Because what the internet needs is more wittering about rubbish parenting

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Why bother....?

A story from the Daily Mail did the rounds on Facebook the other day, and I will confess that I read it. It was about a "new" parenting test they'd come across (apparently it's not new, it's been around for years, but since when did the DM let silly things like "facts" get in the way of what they wanted to say?). This test consisted of 14 exercises that prospective parents should undertake to prepare themselves, including such things as "Dressing Small Children" (trying to stuff a live octopus into a string bag) and "Grocery Shopping (take an unruly goat to the supermarket with you). It was quite funny, and horribly familiar to many of us with small children, but Google it if you want to know more, as that's not what this post is about.

No, this post has come about because of something that I hardly ever do, which is read the comments below a Daily Mail article, and something that I really try and avoid doing under most circumstances, which is read them by "Worst Rated" (I usually don't partake in this kind of activity, because it hurts my head when I smack it off my keyboard in despair). Many of the worst-rated comments went along the lines of "Well this is complete rubbish. My children slept through from 2 days old and have never once run away from me or tried to put crayons in the DVD player. No wonder the world is in the state it's in if people have no standards and this is why we have feral children running round the streets and excusemeletmewipemymouthIappeartobefoamingatit". Good for them and their perfect children, I say. I only hope that sense-of-humour failure isn't hereditary.

The other type of comments seemed to come from people who are not parents, yet find themselves surrounded by them. I have some sympathy with them. Parents can be terribly boring, let's be honest. We have shrunken vocabularies, and an apalling disregard for normal social boundaries when it comes to discussing bodily functions. These commenters had clearly had enough of this kind of talk, and were using this opportunity to have a bit of a rant. "Self-indulgent nonsense! Why do people even bother to have children if they're going to do nothing but whinge about them?!! And why, if I have no interest in hearing people talk about parenting, have I even read this article, let alone commented on it?!"

Which brings me, finally, and clunkingly, to the point of this post. It occurred to me that the test was pretty similar to a lot of my posts on here. So perhaps some of you lot are wondering why I bothered having kids if all I was going to do was complain about them. And if you are, well, here's why:

1. Because kids are freaking awesome.

No, really, they are. Especially mine. You might not believe it from everything I write about them, but they are, absolutely, without a doubt, the most delicious, fantastic, cleverest, wittiest, cutest, funniest, adorablest things in the whole entire wide world. The Littl'un opens her whole face to give kisses. The Big'un, if you look sad, comes over and says "Do you need a cuddle? Give me a smiley face." These kind of things make my heart scrunch up. I am prouder that The Littl'un knows what noise a sheep makes, and that The Big'un can recognise and sometimes write the letter 'L', than I am of anything I have ever achieved on my own. But no-one wants to read that, really, do they? The things they can do are of no interest to anyone who is not related to them.  And it is really, really hard to write well about the nice stuff. This love is bigger than words. If you try to find the words, they come out corny and sickening and will put people off their lunch. And I'm a feeder, the thought of causing other people to not eat is very concerning for me. Far easier, and far funnier, to focus on the more trying stuff. There is a certain amount of surreal comedy to life with small people that I, for one, find quite easy to write about.

2. Because kids do this weird thing called "growing".

Yep, you heard it here first, folks. Babies do not stay babies. Toddlers do not stay toddlers. There may well be people who actually don't particularly agree with my first statement, and are not that fond of having "kids". But perhaps, the years of arguing about how to eat sandwiches and singing "The Wheels on the Bus" are not the whole reason that people enter into parenthood. You don't just have a baby, you have a whole person. I am still my mother's daughter at 31 years old. And she probably gets more out of our relationship now that I can hold a semi-intelligent conversation and go shopping with her, than she did when I would do nothing but scream in her face (that was when I was a baby/toddler, by the way, it wasn't last week or anything). Unfortunately, even if they're not your thing, these early years have to be done, but I am not aware of any law that says they have to be enjoyed.

There are other good reasons to have children, such as getting to play with Lego, and being off work for a while, and being able to park in parent and child spaces at the supermarket. But despite all of these undeniably attractive perks, life with small children is bloody hard work. It is messy, and frustrating, and veers wildly from being quite boring to unbelievably eventful. It contains many things that are downright not fun. So you will have to forgive us if, every now and again, a little bit of complaining slips out. Or maybe a big bit. Because, while there may be people out there who get bored of the whingeing, there are also people out there who NEED the whingeing. They need to know that there are children out there who aren't perfect. That they are not the only people who are struggling. That they are not the only people who constantly worry that they are doing it all wrong. The blog posts that have described your own hellish day to a T. The Facebook statuses that we could have written ourselves. The sympathetic wry smile from a stranger who's been there, dealt with that tantrum. All these things make us feel a little less alone.

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