You know how we all have that one friend who just seems to nail parenting? Their kids are well behaved and do what they’re told all without raising a voice. They’re lovely. They’re organised. Their shit is so together you assume it’s plaited with a ribbon.
And yet, as hard as it is to believe sometimes, I suspect we’re all that parent to someone.
I was parked at my kids’ primary school waiting for school to finish so I could take them home – by which I mean I was filling in time attending to my Pokemon and distracting Miss4 with some music.
“Bruce,” a friend said, tapping my window. “How’s Tracey doing?”
“Great,” I replied, turning off the music and lowering the window ready to have a bit of a chin wag. We hadn’t chatted for ages and school pick up is notoriously good for a natter.
“Daddy, that was my song!” Miss4 complained from the seat behind me. “Daddy, turn it back on!”
“I can’t talk with it on,” I explained to my daughter, hoping against all odds she’d accept the logic of this. That went about as well as you might expect.
Which was a bit of a shit, because the last person you want your kids to chuck a tantrum in front of is that parent – and this was my that parent.
“Daddy, my song! Turn on my song! Daaa-ddeeeee…!!”
With much the same speed I approach cake, Miss4 went past the point where you could decipher the actual words – it was pure wailsong and blubberbluster.
“Here you go,” I said, handing my iPhone back to her. “You can catch Pokemon for me.”
Meaning, except for an occasional ‘I caught a Pokemon’ thrown in from the backseat, I got to have a nice chat about Tracey’s progress and could casually slip in the fact we’d recently bought a bus.
Even while we chatted, there was a part of me which was applauding the fact I’d settled Miss4 down so quickly and congratulating myself for totally faking how well I owned this parenting caper.
Again, that continued to go about as well as you might expect.
Suddenly, just as Miss9 and Miss6 appeared on the far side of the road next to the Lollipop lady, there was an explosion of indecipherable ranting from the back seat. Not blubberbluster this time, though. Too much frustration and rage in it, and no crying. It was all hollerant.
At first I decided to ignore it, in the hope it would go away, but rather predictably it just got worse.
“I’m sorry, just give me a second,” I said to my friend, interrupting what was now a totally and wonderfully bus themed conversation which, sadly, I was having increasing difficulty hearing. I turned in my seat to address my daughter. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”
I threw the ‘sweetie’ in there to show what a good dad I was, and backed that up by not using cuss words to suggest she please shut the hell up, like any normal parent would do.
“The Pokemon fiffdorf!” yelled Miss4 at the top of her lungs.
I smiled knowingly at my friend and gave a little mini eye-roll I thought would best convey some a message along the lines of, ‘It’s a sacrifice, but being a super parent is just what I do. They’re worth it though, bless their cotton socks. Oh, the sweet innocence of youth‘.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I said, doubling down on the ‘sweetie’ bit, “but I couldn’t understand you. Just talk normally. What did you say again?”
“The Pokemon,” said Miss4 loudly and succinctly over my shoulder, going on to use a phrase I swear I’ve never heard her say before. “Pissed. Off.”
She hasn’t used it, but I know I have. Dammit.
So anyway, nice chat. Kids are here. Gotta go.
And of course, now I’m wondering if anyone looks up to me as being that parent. Jeez they must be feral.
Raising a family on little more than laughs