You ever have those days you feel like a God amongst parents? When everything goes right and you feel like you’ve found your parenting groove? When you decide you’re not going to use the tellysitter or their pads, pods and other electronic devices as a means to get some peace? When you think to yourself, today I’m going to parent!
Well, last Saturday I felt pretty good about how I was adulting-with-kids. That’s really all I can hope for – the odd day.
Rather than eat myself up over an inability to string a series of good parenting days together I’ve come to the realisation I’m simply a pretty average parent. Average as in there are a lot of us guilt-ridden, winging it, ‘can’t I please have an effing moment to myself’ mums & dads out there feeling the same way I am. We love our kids, no doubt about it, but the fact is we don’t seem to like a lot of the same things they do. For example:
- Ground Rules. I like carpet and they seem hell bent on covering up every last foot of it with whatever they can drag out of their wardrobes and toy boxes.
- Telly Snubbies. I occasionally like to hear the news, whereas they prefer to drown it out with screams of, “Daddy, no-ooo!! I want dwagons! I want Tooffless!”
- Foodies. I like to cook a variety of nice meals. They demand spag bog.
- Real Jigsaws. I like it when they play with toys, but they prefer to scatter them into bits around to house to see if I can’t piece them back together.
- Nocturnal Animals. That I like sleep a lot more than they do has been highlighted to me every single night for the last 24 years. In much the same way not being able to spot a square of carpet in the lounge room gets me worked up, going horizontal just seems to start their blood pumping.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really good parents out there too, without whom the rest of us would have nothing to feel guilty about. Thanks guys – keep up the depressingly good work.
I sometimes wonder if my primary role (role as in a Benedict Cumberbum acting sort of way) as a parent is simply to get the kids used to being yelled at so they can survive boot camp when they enrol in the army.
Which might present its own problems for them in a decade or two.
“Private! Pick up your gear and drag your lily-white ass down that hill! NOW! GO! GO! GO!”
“I love you too, Sarge.”
“Sorry, Sir! For a second you reminded me of my parents.”
But every now and then we have a day which makes us feel good about our parenting, don’t we? A day which we’ll look back on for the following month and mentally pat ourselves on the back with.
I must have had a particularly good night’s sleep Friday night, because on Saturday I was even ready to mock myself for being an overachieving superdad.
There was a hot breakfast and cups of tea and I played a board game before going for a bike ride with the kids. We even followed this ups with a trip to the local library. I was almost unrecognisable from the previous day’s frustrated father of seven, trying to stay one step ahead of the four year old by walking a loop through the kitchen/dining area while reading my phone.
So I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Obviously, that wasn’t going to last.
“You can all grab a couple of books each,” I told the kids as we walked into the library, not bothering to keep my voice too low because when you’re being a super-parent it’s nice to have people notice.
Not a single head turned our way.
What have libraries become these days? You used to be able to count on a good shushing at the very least.
“Mum! Dad!” Miss9 squealed as she came racing through the library holding a book and waving it about with the same sort of disbelieving wild excitement she exhibits having miraculously found her homework just before we head off to school. “I have the best book for you.”
“I don’t know if we need this,” said Tracey, flashing me the title, 100 Ways To Happy Children.
Not today, I thought. They have nothing to complain about today.
“It’s perfect,” continued Miss9 loudly. “It’s full of great ideas for parents like you. Now you can have happy children instead!”
Instead of what? I wanted to ask her. And it seemed to me I wasn’t the only one. You ever had one of those moments when it suddenly felt like every head in the place was facing your way? And still no one was shushing Miss9. Almost no one.
“Shhh,” I hissed at her. “Keep your voice down. I think we’re doing fine. What about everything we’ve just done? Bike rides, walking the dog, playing games, bacon. Being here at the library.”
“But we haven’t done the best thing yet,” she told me. I should have seen it coming. “We haven’t played our iPads.”
See? Love them, but on a totally different page to the point of being different books in different reference sections in different libraries.
So anyway, like I said, some days we get to feel like a God amongst parents. Only then we realise it’s obviously not one of the big name deities, more like one of the lesser known gods who watch over broken toys, squabbles, messes and the odd fart joke.
Because on average, that’s what being a parent is all about, isn’t it?
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”
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