Anal retentive parents tend to make things harder on themselves. I had the nappies, babygros and custom-printed feeding schedules but no clue when I decided to dive into parenthood. Here are things I know right now, with a definite need for more insights as I go along:
- You’ll need 20 extra hard drives to store the obsessive pictures you take of them.
- You’ll make up a ‘hunt the mess’ game – writing down where they’ve left their droppings with each room listed, the number of ‘offences’ and a column for each person. Add clues if you’re feeling generous and send them around the house to tick off and tidy up their mess. Reward them with something small. Boom.
- You may have to be super-creative about sneaking fruit and vegetables into meals so that your full-of-crap eater doesn’t develop scurvy or rickets.
- You’ll need a few journals. Kids are comedians. They say and do the funniest things. Film them or jot stuff down and give them the journal(s) when they turn 21 so that they can bask in the awesomeness of their outrageous younger selves one day.
- You WILL develop a grudge-gift for rating poo: “HEY MOM, come and see what I made. It’s as big as my face!”
- There will be sand E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. When they go to play school or aftercare they’ll come home with sand in their pockets, shoes, undies and body parts. Before they come into the house, hold them upside down over an empty hole, and soon you’ll have your own sandpit.
- You become a motivator creating phrases such as “WOW, you run like a rocket”, “Your smile makes my heart happy”, “You’re SO strong”, “What a beautiful brain!” and “Can we keep you?”
- You’ll need an honest un-BS-y answer for everything – Easter Bunny, Santa, Jesus, tooth fairy, death, ISIS, clouds, Donald Trump, private parts, etc.
- Start practising what you preach – or there’s no way in hell that child’s going to listen to you.
- The child WILL NOT listen to you. YOU might have been a people-pleaser growing up but not this one. While you’re five seconds away from myocardial infarction, they’ll be Buddha-calm. Learn from them. You’ll need your full strength for worse shite they’re about to do.
- It’s not in their nature to be fastidious like you. No matter how many times you show and tell them how to wash their hands PROPERLY – they’ll be 41 and still washing their hands badly. Dodge the face-caressing for as long as you can.
- You’ve always overestimated your intelligence and patience. Just try to insert information into a primary school child and you’ll soon realise you’re not that smart. Or zen. PS: When the child’s still the size of a bean in the womb, start an education fund. Don’t be a dumbo.
- Teachers are special, magical beings – unless they’re abysmal. Then remove the child from that school immediately and find a better one.
- Unless the baby’s walking for Victoria’s Secret or found a cure for cancer, keep the baby stuff on social media to a minimum. Excludes family, dear friends and other humans with kids.
- Children can smell BS. And fear. Remain steadfast. You’re older and maybe bigger. And there are sometimes two of you. But kids are wily rats. Do be careful.
- You WILL underestimate your ‘nappy guilt’ and recycle everything until your bin is down to one measly bag of dirt so unreachable that the homeless have to do capoeira in order to reach it.
- Despite yourself, you may tell the child weird stuff like “It’s ok to eat snot but only your own. Just make sure no-one sees you. And DON’T touch me until you’ve washed your hands, ok?”.
- What you’re dealing with is nothing compared to what your parents went through with four of you. Word.
- A hands-on partner is more than worth their weight in gold. The love you had for them will multiply 100-fold.
- Kids are time vampires – nothing will prepare you for the slothfulness of a child, ESPECIALLY when you need to get somewhere urgently (church, school, bed, etc).
- Forget the baby books and well-meant advice. That’s theory. Your child’s unique and you have the chance to make hands-on, practical decisions with that specific child in mind. Just try not to stuff it up.
- The child is a sponge – while you’re teaching them how to behave nicely, they’re busy taking in your dark side too – racism, sexism, and your attitude towards religion/others/food/your body/their other parent.
- They’re not your buddies. They’ll have lots of friends but only one set of parents. It’s up to you to teach them well even if it means they don’t like you much. Why do you think they’re called ‘home truths’?
- You WILL want to punch small children in the face when they bully your child. That’s frowned upon. Be patient. Your child will grow into a long-legged, bright Amazon who won’t give them a second thought.
- You WILL want to punch childless grownups in the face when they complain about ‘I’m SOOO tired, I binge-watched xxxxx last night’. Or when they brag about reading books and taking naps.
- You WILL want to punch pet owners in the face who think getting a pet is ‘just like having a child’. Be safe in the knowledge they don’t know jack.
- Activist for gender equality: You WILL have unreasonably violent thoughts when faced with yet ANOTHER pink outfit/plaything, and will want your girl child to experience the joy of caped Batman PJs with printed 6-pack. And Ben10 shoes that glow. You WILL purchase these despite the ‘Boys’ label, becoming a one-woman protagonist against sexism in toys, clothing and reading matter for kids.
- You won’t know what to do about their painful penchant for Justin Bieber and will turn into a judgey nun when they sing along to songs about drug addiction and sex, like ‘Can’t feel my face’ or ‘Cake by the ocean’.
- Your ‘inside’ voice will escalate into your ‘outside’ voice faster than a jet.
Warrior nun-like courage
- You’ll never get used to the chaos: food under the kitchen table, smudge marks on the mirrors, hidden toys in your bag, being a pack horse, toothpaste on the tap, never wearing white, and the sugary carpet of sand underfoot. Kids are nightmares for the anal retentive OCD parent. Adapt or die.
- When the child reads YOU a bedtime story, you’ll feel immense pride.
- It really will hurt your heart to punish them when they’re rude, but it’s necessary. You don’t want to be responsible for bringing another jerk into the world. Teach them basic manners and consideration for other living things. And not to litter.
- They will break your heart. Sometimes you can’t even help crying. It could be joy or anger. That’s just the way it is.
- Try to keep some of their artwork. They’ll make a scheisse-load. Especially if you have a quirky monkey who likes drawing crocodiles, dinosaurs, zombies and God on the beach. You need to have something to pore over when they leave the nest.
- You’ll be teaching them how to leave you. They need to know how to pay bills, be hygienic, have street smarts, willpower against peer pressure, and the discipline to study and cook themselves healthy meals. Hopefully they’ll always come home to visit. Not with laundry. Stuff that.
- When they scream “I HATE YOU!” you’re apparently doing something right.
- Nothing will prepare you for the fear that they’re in constant danger – child-trafficking, paedos, rape, bullies, rubbish friends, crossing the road, seesaws, flashers, etc. Teach them to trust their gut and memorise your telephone number and address from a young age, but without making them as paranoid as you are.
- Try not to think about your baby having sex one day. All you can do is teach them the value of their bodies and minds and that their worth is not tied up in another person’s viewpoint. And hopefully that will prevent shite love choices.
- The shame you feel when your child embarrasses you in public will be tiny compared to the creativity you show in dealing with the situation in a non-violent, covert, and classy manner.
- You WILL cry over every stranger’s bullied, missing, abused or dead child.
- They’ll be the EXACT opposite of you: the child of two diligent, anal retentive, sarcastic introverts is an unmotivated, scruffy, eye-rolling, zombie-loving, disobedient rat. But you don’t know whether to marvel at her balls or punish her indefinitely.
- If you needed to, you would die for this person.
Magical like a unicorn
- Secret smugness at having such an awesome, original, bright and beautiful child. Enjoy the awesmosis.* Crappy characteristics? They got those from The Dad.
- You’ll be helping them cultivate a healthy sense of fearlessness (different to dumbassness).
- Your capacity for forgiveness will grow – you’ll love them even if they consistently break or ruin your favourite antique-something. Unless they do it maliciously, then that’s another story.
- It’s best not to cultivate a mini version of yourself – you’ve already had your chance. They must be allowed to be themselves. This won’t stop you from silently sniggering when they sit on the loo with a magazine, just like you, or pull your EXACT bitch-face to the poor dad.
- You’ll never marginalise your body again after giving natural, drug-free childbirth.
- You CAN teach a small child to care about others’ needs besides their own.
- You develop superpowers such as enhanced hearing and a 6th sense.
- When you grow up, you’ll want to be just like them.
Nobody forced me to have a child, but I know choosing to be a parent as an OCD anal retentive, seems to have made me a decidedly more decent human…
*Awesomeness by osmosis