I used to say that I wished the kids had come with an almanac - a waterproof one which swam around in their placentas, and when you gave birth, whoosh, out it came. Now the rules about this almanac were that you were only allowed to use it in moments of sheer desperation - moments when the usual tricks weren't working, the bribes are tossed aside by the bribee, the calls to helpful people have left you with nothin', and frankly you have literally NO IDEA what to do next. The Almanac for the "What the hell do we do now?" moments that every parent has (usually in the wee hours of the morning). Then you open the Almanac specific to your kid, specific to the day, you find the answer of what the hell is wrong with the kid, and (here's the best part) you also find out how to fix it! Ahhhh! Now I see! You've been crying hysterically, wailing to beat the band and kicking me madly because teddy's smile is 1/8th of a millimeter more crooked than it was three weeks ago! NOW I get it, I just have to hold him 1/8th of a millimeter in the other direction and you'll stop that incessant screaming! *phew* Saved by the Almanac! So we all know such a thing doesn't exist - and if it did, we'd all break the "only in desperation" rule anyway. I've since decided that it's the children who need the "for dummies" book, and they need it in relation to being parented - a book which teaches them some of the essential truths of childhood. Here are a few entries in that book:
- "Get out of here, I need to poo!" literally means Mum (or Dad) wants you to skedaddle, pronto. We DON'T want you to stand there and tell us every type of dinosaur including the 4 you just made up and what they like to eat best. It means, kid, BEAT IT.
- "What part of, I NEED TO POO are you not getting?" means, if you don't get the heck out of here on the order of right this very second, you're going to find out what a very angry Mumosaurus looks like. (Note: It's very hard to be angry using words like poo, but the other word would not be considered positive parenting by example...)
- Tired Mum has just stepped on a lego in bare feet for the third time today, the laundry has flooded, there is someone at the door, and your sister has a case of head lice which she announces loudly to everyone she meets. Now is NOT the time to say, "Mum, can I have a bowl of cereal? And can you only use the Pooh Bear bowl? With a green spoon? And only use the biodynamic Vitamin D enriched milk. Thanks." Word of advice, kid: Don't even ask. Just get it yourself (and try not to spill) or wait a day or two. Because if you say that while the above is happening, you WILL get your head bitten off.
- Mum or Dad smashing their toe on furniture and being in utter abject pain is not a good time to start laughing hysterically.
- Whatever it is you desperately need, want, or are just plain ol' being obnoxious about (food, drinks, favourite toys, small parts from toys you haven't played with in six months, blankies with holes in them, t-shirts that haven't fit for several weeks, essential scraps of paper from pre-school) we are guaranteed NOT to find in exactly the moment you need it. Get over it. We will only find it several hours/days/weeks later when frankly, you could care less about this previously 'life or death' item.
- Shrill screaming is only allowed in instances where it is warranted, e.g. if your life or your siblings' lives are in immediate danger. It is not allowed in any other circumstances, ever. Shrill screaming is not allowed if you are merely annoyed over the unfairness of life, someone touching you or your stuff, or you think I can't hear you (because I CAN, I'm just ignoring you), or because you like the sound of your loud, high pitched voice. Fact remains, kid, I can scream louder than you can, but I WON'T because I follow the rules about when it is allowed. You should too.
- "Mummy and Daddy are napping, now go away" is not an invitation to open the door and comment on why we are naked in the wintertime, and tell us that we really should be wearing warm jammies otherwise we will 'freeze to death in the night.' Given this is one of the only times we're 'napping', frankly, we don't give a shit if we get frostbite ON OUR you-know-wheres. Now go away.
- World Wars were not started over which DVD the world leaders wanted to watch. Why are you trying to start one that way?
- You had better realise that your whole life, there will always, always, always be someone touching your stuff. Just ask me about the people who keep stealing my knives at work. It sucks, but I can't complain to my boss that "so-and-so is TOUCHING MY STUFF!" You will never be able to complain about this and have anything meaningful done about it, so why bother doing it now? Learn to hide your stuff better.