Because what the internet needs is more wittering about rubbish parenting

Friday, 24 September 2010

I Am Not A Jar of Sauce...

... I do not need a label.

If you've read, well, anything lately, you may have noticed that writers, journalists and gurus of all types like to come up with funky new names for things. A couple of decades ago we had lots of nifty little acronyms (NIMBYs, YUPs, DINKYs and the like). Nowadays, we seem to have what I like to call the Grazianating of words. This refers to Grazia's (it may well be other magazines too, just this is the one I have a subscription for) constant concatenating (see what I did there, eh?) of words with other words to make new and ridiculous words, which they then use to describe whichever social phenomenon they're observing/inventing this week. You are not just eating less meat, you are a Flexitarian. You do not have a shopping problem, you are Fashorexic. They are not really tight, stretchy trousers, they are treggings. It really does my head in.

Anyway, the Grazia thing was really just a roundabout way of getting to my point (while getting to rant about something that annoys me), which is this: People are absolutely obsessed with putting labels on everything. Including, and perhaps especially, the way you bring up your child.

Now to be honest, this isn't something you tend to come across that much in real life. Most people, as long as you aren't feeding your baby beer and leaving them on the pavement while you pop in to Tesco, don't really concern themselves with what you do with your child, and assume that you're doing whatever works for you. Or at least they have the good sense to know that it's bad manners to harrass you about it. But step into the world of the internets, or the parenting section of a bookshop, and everything changes. Here you will find a vast array of people all champing at the bit to discuss parenting concepts and methods, to label their methods and yours, and to convince you that their way is the best one.

Baby-led, parent-led, Gina Ford, Baby Whisperer, Attachement Parenting, Continuum Concept - which one are you? It all unnerves me a great deal. I never knew you were meant to be able to describe your parenting choices with one snappy little term. I never knew you were meant to have one deeply-held, meticulously-researched and scientifically-supported philosophy that governed the choices you would make. To tell the truth, I'm not sure I've ever made anything that I would describe as a parenting choice. I do whatever it occurs to me to do at the time, with the short-term aim of getting her through the day without her coming to much physical harm or resorting to locking her in a cupboard, and the long-term aim of getting her through her childhood without making her hate me. It never occurred to me that I would need someone to tell me how to raise my daughter. It never occurred to me that someone COULD. If there was a book called "Tips for Bad Mammy and Husband on how to deal with The Baby", then maybe I'd consider it worth a look, but until then, no journalist, parenting guru, or self-proclaimed internet expert knows what we are or should be doing.

I'm not saying that reading about child-rearing has no value. Many people I know have had their lives, or at least their sanity, saved by advice from a book, or from the internet. But I don't see why everyone has to have a parenting "style", or why we have to talk about "parenting" at all. To quote someone very wise and sensible (who I actually met on the internet, but don't hold that against her), "Parent is who you ARE, not what you do". Amen to that.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


If you have seen me today, or have read my facebook status, you will know that I am as proud as Mrs Proud from 1 Proud Street, Proudington. This is because.... The Baby did a wee in her potty! Ta da! I only bought the potty because it was £1 in Asda and is the same colour as my bathroom curtains, but I decided to sit her on it this morning when I was changing her nappy, and she promptly did a wee! It was very exciting. Who'd have thought that you could be so happy about someone urinating into a piece of plastic? So I have told just about everyone I have come into contact with today (thankfully not the man at the garage or the event producer from the BBC) about how proud I am of my big girl.

And then this evening she did a wee on the landing carpet. Ah well. Baby steps.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Lost in Translation

The Baby has a new noise. It goes something like this: "Eyuhhh, eyuhhh, eyuhhh". I am not quite clear on its meaning. It may mean any of "I'm tired", "I'm bored", "I'm hungry", "But I WANT to play with that shiny, dangerous thing", "My teeth hurt", or "Mother, I cannot believe that you are so monumentally stupid that you cannot figure out what it is that I am having an issue about right now". Whichever it may be, it is highly unpleasant and I am quite, quite bored of it.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Mistaken Identity?

I am sure - absolutely, positively convinced - that the nursery has got confused. There must be another baby there (well, toddler, they have finally acknowledged that, even though she isn't walking, there is only so much time a 14-month-old can spend playing with sensory baskets, and so have let her go to the far more exciting toddler room) with the same name, and that her key worker has got them mixed up. How do I know this? Sample comments from today: "She's not a bit of bother", "She's so quiet!", and most unnervingly "She slept for an hour and 40 minutes. Yes, she just lies down and goes to sleep, no trouble at all". That ain't my daughter. My daughter is the one who, when she gets home, punches her daddy in the face and steals his glasses, waits until I have just taken her nappy off then makes a break for it, shouts "BAA!" at everything, and whinges until I let her steal food from my plate. Although the food she did steal was cabbage. Granted, it was covered in oyster sauce and she wasn't meant to be eating it, but at least it was green.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Baby's Days May Be Numbered...

Not in a sinister way, I might add. To my knowledge, no-one has ordered a hit on her yet. But you may recall me acknowledging that it was getting more than a little ridiculous to keep referring to her as The Baby, when she is 14 months old, never stays still, is capable of taking her own top off (this is a new one, and quite funny when you are getting her ready for her bath, less so when you are trying to put her pyjamas on afterwards), and eats nearly as much as I do. I decided that she could stay The Baby until she was walking. Which she still isn't, but I suspect it might not be long. We have a Standing Baby! Kind of. She very often doesn't notice she's doing it, having been holding on to something, and then started lifting it up and shaking it about, meaning she is standing unsupported. Woo. Sadly, the minute we notice and start with the praise and adulation, she promptly sits down and refuses to do it anymore. I thought the Perfect Parenting Handbook advocated this kind of loving encouragement? I thought it was supposed to help them develop? Not my contrary little child, obviously. Sometimes, I swear she is looking at me as if to say "Mother, I am not a performing seal. Kindly cease and desist with the gushing. I will do it again in my own sweet time."

Anyway, I must find a new alias for my child. As I am not very original, it is likely to be The Toddler. Although that sounds a bit weird. As if it were the title of a really bad film. Maybe with Vin Diesel in it.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Fell Off The Wagon

Have been back on the debating section of Three nights in a row. I am a bad, bad person with no willpower. I have not posted yet, but surely it is only a matter of time. It's a slippery slope. Somebody help me. My name is Bad Mammy, and I am addicted to reading and getting annoyed with the opinions of complete strangers.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Food Ramblings. For A Change.

I have spent the last few days doing quite a good impersonation of a neurotic mother. I know, what's going on? And the root of my neuroses is food, of all things. Regular readers will know that (salt obsession aside) eating is one of the few things The Baby truly excels at. So why the wiggyness? It's the stupid Health Visitor's fault.

SHE HAS DROPPED OFF HER LINE! Dun dun duuurrrr.... (that was scary dramatic music, by the way. Did you get that?)

"The Lines", for those of you who are lucky enough to not have to worry your heads about such things, are, apparently, the ONLY way you can tell if your baby is well-nourished or not. When you go and get your baby weighed, the HVs plot their weight on a graph which has lines on it showing how they're meant to grow, and your baby MUST STAY ON THEIR LINE or BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN and you are a TERRIBLE MOTHER.

The Baby came out a pretty average weight, and by the time she was 4 weeks old, had jumped on to the 75th centile line, and cruised along there quite nicely ever since. 75th centile, by the way, means that in a room of 100 babies, she would try and eat 74 of them. In other words, she is, as is well-documented in this blog, a bit of a chunk. However, on Friday, I was informed that, despite the fact that I may soon be reduced to selling family heirlooms and possibly my organs on eBay just to keep her in organic rice cakes and spaghetti bolognese, she has dropped off the 75th centile, and is now hovering somewhere between there and the 50th.

This is, of course, my fault. The Baby has decided that milk is just not something she really wants to get involved with now she knows that there are chips and blueberries in the world, so apparently her diet now does not have enough fat in it. What the hell???? So now there's another thing for me to worry about? Fruit, veg, fish (as omega3 may or may not be good for babies, but hey, best be on the safe side), iron, vitamins, checking for salt and additives, trying to introduce new flavours, encouraging her to eat wholesome meals with the rest of the family, and now dairy and fat - THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH MEALS IN THE DAY TO COVER ALL THESE BASES!!

After this little discussion, as I was trying to wrestle The Baby back into her clothes, I then heard the Health Visitor advising another mother on weaning her 6-month-old. It seems that in the 8 months since I first shoveled some porridge into The Baby's open and extremely willing mouth, the Guidelines From On High have changed, and now you are meant to skip purees and mush, and instead give them finger foods like bits of banana and let them feed themselves. This is called "baby-led weaning", and parenting circles are full of people who've been harping on for years about how it's the best, most natural and instinctive way to wean a baby, and now get to be even more smug that everyone else is catching up with them (not that all people who do baby-led weaning are smug, I hasten to add before I get myself in trouble with all the very lovely people I know who have done it, just that many of the people I know to be smug in general do baby-led weaning). Meanwhile, the rest of us get to feel like there's another thing that we've somehow done wrong.

So I have spent the weekend trying to sneak milk into The Baby's mouth, and covering everything with cheese sauce, and generally having a little bit of a worry that I have failed and am failing my child in some way. My child, who by the way, is obviously completely healthy, still fairly chunky, can now feed herself with a spoon, and has loved pretty much all food (except the anti-green veg phase we're having right now) since the second that spoon touched her lips. I think the worry may be, as always, slightly unnecessary.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Baby Jekyll and Little Miss Hyde

OK, so here is what must have happened. I actually gave birth to identical twins. Thye took one away from me at the hospital, and modified my memory. And there is someone living in my house (possibly in the cupboard under the stairs, or the spare bedroom, they're so full of crap I could have Octomom and her brood in there and not know) who pops out every now and then when I'm not looking, and swaps the babies over.

There's no other explanation. One minute (especially the minutes in the morning) I have a child who doesn't want to do ANYTHING. She doesn't want to eat (or at least, not much, and not with any great enthusiasm), she doesn't want to drink, she doesn't want to sleep, she doesn't want to play, she doesn't want to watch TV, she doesn't want to have a story, she doesn't want to cuddle, she doesn't want to be put down, she doesn't want to climb the stairs. All she wants to do is make a really unpleasant noise, and make faces that suggest her heart is breaking, and it's all my fault. Then all of a sudden, when my back is turned, the stranger in my cupboard pops out and replaces her with Nice Baby. I like Nice Baby very much. She plays happily by herself, until I go over and she gives me a big cuddle and a kiss on the nose. She points at things and says things that sound adorably like words. She grabs her toys, gives them fierce hugs and shrieks with laughter. She smiles, sings, dances, and is generally a joy to behold. But then the stranger in the cupboard takes her away again, and brings Grumpy Baby back. This makes me a little bit sad. Grumpy Baby throws diva strops. They are not fun. Although is it wrong that I find it a little bit funny when she puts her face on the floor, as if she is exhausted by the awfulness of her life?

So if you're listening, stranger in the cupboard, please can I have Nice Baby for a little bit longer tomorrow? And can I maybe have her first thing? 5.30am is a lot easier to deal with without the whingeing. Cheers.

Some Randomness...

I don't have the energy to write a proper post. So here is an assortment of random thoughts.

- The Toddler says "No" like a Scottish person.

- Why do baby clothes have pockets on them? What are the designers thinking - "Ooh, we'd best make sure there's somewhere on this 3-6 months sleepsuit for his wallet and keys"??

- I can't remember when I last cleaned my bathroom.

- If everyone in Eastenders works on a market stall or in a shop, why do they all always have enough money to go and drink orange juice in the pub at lunchtime? Orange juice in pubs costs a fortune. And they all work about two seconds from their houses anyway.

- Is it bad if your toddler recognises, and noticeably perks up at the mention of the word "Beebies"?

- I bought The Toddler a special, hypoallergenic, cot-sized pillow today, in the hopes of getting her to sleep better. I had been expressly forbidden to do this, as we have, at a conservative estimate, 847 pillows in the house already. The Toddler is currently sleeping peacefully, with her head nowhere near said pillow. I think I'm in trouble.

That is all.