We hear it all the time:
‘It only seems like yesterday…’
No, it doesn’t. I spawned my son nearly 11 years ago, literally a lifetime and it feels like it. An incredible amount has happened since his sleepy bones were reluctantly plungered into the world and I can’t picture my life without this magnificent beast.
I’m aware that it’s a cliché to say that being a parent changes you, and at the very least it teaches you a lot – very fast – like a baptism of fire. You go in thinking you know it all, maybe even with a sense of entitlement to this ‘knowledge’ – don’t feel bad – confidendence is certainly a requirement, even if it is misplaced. After a while, once you’ve crawled your way out the other side of the fire, you’re grey, tired and you have a new found appreciation for the small things. And if your child asked you to, you’d turn right back around and walk back through the flames. These are just things you learn without realising. You’ll just look up one day and it’ll catch you off guard when you notice that you’re not the person you were and that’s ok.
However. What I do take issue with is the cold-faced lies.
I, along with a huge number of others, have been misled in many ways when it comes to breeding. I’ve been so incensed during my more rotund, hormonal moments that I’ve drafted letters to the education authority demanding that sex education is made more accurate. That the reality is that you’re actually pregnant for closer to 10 months (those weeks count), that due dates are a guess at best, and that you will be a sweaty, wobbly MESS for at least 2 of those months. Oh, and not everybody ‘glows’. I had to learn these things first hand, a heads up would have been nice.
(If you’re on your first round of making a human – you’re welcome.)
The most recent slap in the parental chops is that puberty actually starts around 10 years old, not the widely believed 12-13 years old.
What. Is. This…?
I genuinely have little memory of my own experience, I probably blocked it out.
I knew as soon as I had girls, that we would be in for a rough ride, but my boy? Nah, he’d be fine… He’d be a bit greasy and squeaky for a while, no biggy.
I was wrong.
It snuck into my peripheral and my nostrils and I’m not ready.
A few months ago, Robin and I were talking about the 8-and-a-half-year gap between our oldest and youngest and he asked me one of the most horrific questions that I’ve been asked to date. I thought he was joking, he was not, and I am scarred.
“What do you think will come first – potty training or wet dreams?”
What the actual f*ck?
I’ll just let the trauma of that sink in for a moment…
Well, we are now a solid month or so into potty training, and as far as I know, that was the answer to his question.
But that’s not to say that my adult-sized 10-year-old is not going through some shit that neither he, nor I are ready for. And it’s only going to get worse, there’s no protecting him from this.
Whilst Facebook eagerly alerts me of memories from years ago with photos of my cheeky little cherub, he is busy becoming almost unrecognisable. Swinging anywhere between hilarious and cocky to emotional and cuddly in any given hour. He has times when he doesn’t know which way is up, he’d sleep til noon if I let him, and sweet Jesus, he smells.
I think it was the smell and my lack of tolerance for anything even remotely irritating that made me realise that he’s changing. In the mornings, I brace myself with a deep breath, open his door and make a bee-line for the window. How is he still breathing in that? I fear for my respiratory health every morning. I’ve taken to sending the girls in to wake him up, because they seem to be immune for now.
So do all pre-teens repel soap and water, or is it just mine? Is it acceptable to use a pressure washer on him? Can I put him through the car wash? Should I just burn his clothes and bed sheets? Is there something wrong with his sense of smell? Should I trade him in for a puppy?
So many questions.
What I do remember is being really sensitive (still am) and I don’t want to induce some sort of psychological issue in the kid, but honestly, I’m going to slip up at some point and scar him for life. Everyone does, and it’s usually during this thrill-a-minute rollercoaster.
So, whilst my first born is going through the early stages of not being my baby anymore, my long breeding career means that I’m still dealing with joy that is holding a toddler over a toilet whilst she gibbers on about whether she’s having a baby wee or a daddy wee.
Recently, I had to have a telephone interview for a part time job. The woman I was speaking to had a really strong accent and it took every part of my bumpkin brain to understand what I was being asked. Halfway through this, my precious toddler started shrieking “Ahhh WEE WEE MUMMY!!! WEEE WEEEEEE!!!!” I ran down my stairs, my phone held to my ear with my shoulder, flapping one hand to shhhh her, the other hand with one finger to my mouth, I whipped down her leggings and pants then plonked her on the toilet… Ninja… It wasn’t a wee though, was it?
There is no subtle way of saying “Well done, Baby, you’re very clever. Yes, it was a big poo, well done…. Can you touch your toes so I can wipe your bum?” whilst trying to answer questions on the 5 stages of a risk assessment and Christ knows what else because you weren’t listening 300% to someone you barely understood in the first place…
So, wish us luck, cos my boy is sat in that cart, slowly chug-chug-chugging up the first incline and when the time comes, there’s going to be screaming and I hate loud noises. By the time he comes out the other side, River will be in full white-knuckles mode and Mollie-Ann will be strapped in and ready to go.
And I still won’t be ready then.
(amazingly, yes, I did get the job)