Thursday, 11 April 2013

Be afraid, be very afraid

I am afraid of my son. I am not kidding. I wish I was.  He rules the roost and he rules with an iron fist. This is partly because I am a pushover who melts every time he smiles, cries or says/does something cute. But it is also from a lack of confidence.  I am afraid of most children in a way.

It is because I never really had that much exposure to kids beyond my peers. Sure, I babysat when I was a teenager but that involved sitting on someone else’s sofa, eating and watching TV while the kids slept most of the time. I never had to provide much supervision during waking hours and I had never changed a nappy before my son was born. I wasn’t all that interested in kids either (probably for the same reason). Because of my lack of experience I didn’t know what their age meant - how much independence they required or deserved, or what they understood - so I never knew what level of communication to strike with them. Use a “baby voice” and assume they know nothing and risk their scorn and derision – “well der, of course I know milk comes from cows!” Or talk to them like adults and hope they don’t find me as terrifying as I find them? There is a reason children make some of the scariest baddies in horror films – for your reference see Children of the Corn, The Exorcist, The Shining, the list goes on.

To the uninitiated, children have the incredible power of the unknown quantity. They represent walking time-bombs, we never know what to expect and fear the worst. If I tell them off for jumping on the glass coffee table or playing footy with mum’s fine china ornaments will they cry? Or worse, will they defy me and then tell their mum I abused them? Hate me and tell everyone they think I smell? They may be innocent but to me they always seemed so cunning…

I guess I am not what you’d call a “natural” at this motherhood gig. I was never a “chuck the baby on my back and off I go” kinda chick. I was the one struggling with the nappy bag the size of a suitcase and freaking out the minute the baby cried in public. I was the woman who was so flustered she forgot to put her boob away properly after breastfeeding in a park (only once, and thankfully I noticed before I got ALL the way home…)

In my experience, every day is about delicately balancing everything you do to keep them happy. Don’t, whatever you do, skip a feed, be late with a nap, deny them some toy or dangerous/expensive/fragile object. The whole day can fall into disarray. Take today for example. Thanks to the wonderful invention of daylight savings, which I am now petitioning be abolished, my monkey has been waking at 5am all week. This would be OK if he also napped early or extra long, which he did yesterday. But today, exhausted after a string of resist- and-cave tantrums over his lunch, I eventually had to try some tough love and left him crying in the cot. For 25 minutes. It was worth it though because now he is asleep. However the many plans I had for my day (see my To Do List post below) and the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes cannot tempt me and all I can think of doing is going for a little nanna-nap myself.

Of course once you get your head around the nuances of your own spawn, the daily grind becomes much easier.  You develop the confidence to exert the ‘power of the big people’ and utter those arrogant words “because I said so”. But I still fear the wrath of a toddler and prefer the path to an easy life.

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