Dear precious first born, there is something pressing we need to discuss with you.
I write this on the eve of a fairly important event. You see, someone is arriving tomorrow – someone who you’re going to be spending a lot of time with – like it or not.
I know you’re young and we don’t talk much – unless it’s about frogs or cars. But I suppose now is as good a time as any to try and have this conversation. I know you think mummy has been eating A LOT lately and my stomach has outgrown the both of us. I see your horrified face when I’m in the shower – but I haven’t swallowed your monster truck set – I’ve been growing a little life long friend for you.
The good news is it’s a brother! And you know boys are cool right? Really cool. And he will love your cars! And your train set. But, of course, only if you want him to love them. No one will force you to share your cars with him. I know you don’t know the word “share” yet – I never learned it myself! But we will have plenty of time to discuss sharing in the years to come.
Now I don’t want you to worry about favouritism. It’s not an issue. You, my darling, are our precious first born! We only have eyes for you (but let’s just keep that between ourselves shall we? Your brother doesn’t need to know!)
Anyway! If the pregnancy is anything to go by – I think your brother is going to be an arse! So much more difficult than you were. But again – ssshh.
I’ve been wondering why on earth we decided to have another baby to be honest. You’re so wonderful! If it ain’t broke – why try and fix it?! What possessed us? Were we just showing off?! Was it a case of when you buy a fancy juicer you only use once and you feel like you haven’t got your money’s worth! We should use it one more time – just to see if it still works?!
But here we are and tomorrow our tiny little family will be transformed to a bigger one. Though we do promise – this will be the only addition. You can relax.
So although it might be unsettling / shocking tomorrow and over the next few months while you get used to him – we just want you to know that you’ll always be our precious first born and we could never ever love you any less! Er… That came out wrong. What I mean is – we will never change our love for you. Just don’t tell your bro.
I’m going to miss you so much over the next few days and I hope you don’t miss me too much. I also hope your dad doesn’t only feed you crisps and biscuits – I’ve given him a detailed list of instructions, don’t worry.
I’ll never forget the first time my son was walloped.
We were at a ‘mum meet up’ at the local church hall. He was not yet two and running around happily, not a care in the world, safe in the knowledge that he had a blissful, blessed life. Another, larger boy looked him up and down, thought for a moment, before opening his palm wide and pushing it with full force, very slowly, into my son’s face – forcing my son’s head back a good ten inches.
I saw the expression on my only child’s sweet, innocent face- utter devastation; shock, confusion. In his eyes was a flash of a new realisation – that life is actually pretty shite – and it’s full of bastards!
I watched the child with my seething eyes and scanned the room for the ‘bad mother’… where was the bitch? (slowly takes off earrings and tucks shoes under the chair) IT’S ON SKANK!
I couldn’t identify her … and my son was now howling and screaming so much that all eyes were on me (tag! You’re now the bad mother). So we scurried off.
I told Grandma. She wasn’t best pleased. I tried to explain to her that the police had more pressing matters on their hands and probably wouldn’t be too interested in filling out a report about the incident.
Soon after, at another kids’ group my son was bitten by another child. I saw the whole incident. Thankfully the fact I had put my son in such a chunky heavy-duty knit that morning had saved his left arm. This time I saw the mum. It’s on!
Ah! But what do I do now? What do I say? How does one start a sentence with a complete stranger that segues to “your child tried to draw blood from my child.” Do you start by complimenting her on her shoes… or remarking on the humidity… and then slamming into “I have reason to believe your spawn is feral.”
I ended up shuffling up and apologising, stuttering and falling over my words like Hugh Grant trying to declare his love. I tried to tell her what had happened in the most polite / British way possible as a look of mortification crawled over her exhausted face. She apologised profusely as I backed away saying it was no problem – of course, no problem, and I felt worse for bringing it up.
If you look up the word “Awkward” in the dictionary I think you’ll find a small picture of one parent trying to tell another parent that their child walloped theirs.
The thing is, my son grew up over the next few months and started getting a bit more boisterous, a bit more ‘playful’, a bit more heavy handed. He clomps about the play groups like a pissed up platypus knocking into the smaller children like they’re wobbly pins at a bowling alley. And slowly you realise, with horror, that one day your child will be the one who wallops another child. And it serves you right for being so judgemental.
My time at kids’ groups is sectioned into: 80% terrified my son will clobber another kid, 10% terrified my son will be pummelled by another kid and 10% being thankful another child is doing the clouting for today. I am also waiting for a not so understanding parent to launch themselves through the air at me like someone out of The Matrix.
I am much less judge-y than I used to be – I know it is only a matter of time before it’s my child doing the biting / head butting / kicking / walloping. I also know it’s not bad parenting. While my mum still scowls “but where has that girl learnt to wallop? mmm…” I know it’s not as simple as that – I know it’s the child experimenting, testing, playing, expressing.
I know this because since turning two – my own, gorgeous, innocent, wide eyed angel has head butted and bitten me. Me! As though my three day labour means NOTHING to him! He has bitten the hand that literally feeds him. And he certainly hasn’t learnt that from home – unless he can read mummy’s mind when Daddy doesn’t fill the dishwasher (not a euphemism).
And then there is the delicate politics of when you see someone else’s child get walloped. Do you intervene? Is it your place? Where is the rule book?
This morning at a huge soft play centre I witnessed a very small child head butt a larger girl around seven times. We will call the head butter child B for Butt-er. The taller child was sobbing and trying to get away. We will call her child C for Cry. So B is head butting and C is crying. I assume they must be siblings (ah…sibling love – what joys I have to come). I look around the room to see if I can identify the mum of the pair just to let her know child C is very upset.
I see a room of mums enjoying their coffees, reading the papers, chatting to friends. I have no clue which mother owns these two gladiators. I look back at the children. Child C is now lying on the floor screaming as child B punches her. Oh dear. It’s escalated. Time to do something. Yes – it will be awkward but politics means sometimes doing the hard things, putting your head above the parapet, intervening in wars.
So I approach a large table of mums and ask if they have little girls – say what I have seen and they set about going into the soft play to retreive children. Job done. You can feel very pleased with yourself now Steph.
To my horror I realise soon after that the girls were not sisters. They were strangers. And the table I have been at is child B’s mother. The head butter. I see child C in hysterics with her mother at the other end of the room trying to explain to her mum what had happened. The mum then walks up and down the room, clearly upset, looking for the offender and mum.
Lord! What do I do now?! Bloody Hell.
After much deliberation I slither up to the mum of the very upset pummelled girl. My exact words:
“Er….excuse me…I don’t really know how to do this. I haven’t done this before (I meant parenting really). But if it was my son, I would want to know.” I then kindly explain that another child had been head butting her child (and thumping) and that I would have intervened – but they were on the second level and I can’t clamber up the slide at seven months pregnant…(or usually).
The mother was very thankful that I told her what had happened – before asking “WHO IS THE MOTHER?”
Oh….Shit. Gulp. “I think, I mean, I think, I mean it could have been…but I’m not sure – it might have been her?” I subtly nod my head towards the mother in the opposite corner of the ring, I mean ‘room’.
“Thanks” she says, as she strides her way towards her, walloped child in her arms. Me left there looking shifty – like a proper grass! Like the kid in class who just told teacher! Like a drunk, meddling instigator of a fight in a dodgy pub. I have thrown the grenade and can now only sit there like a lemon.
I see the women exchange words and the child is made to apologise. I squirm in the corner trying to look at the menu of “chip butties” intently as the room stare at me – Little Miss Tattletale.
Moments later the younger child, head butter – well she decides she wants another go and does the exact same to child C.
The mum sees it now.
She exclaims something pretty rude into the air.
It’s earrings off.
Ding Ding Ding.
Grandma and I make a swift exit as we see the mother storming up to the parent – it’s on!!
Sons, I want you to prepare yourself for your father and I coming to dinner in around twenty years time (or whenever you hopefully move out).
I’ll ring ahead of time and insist you make my favourite – lasagne – from scratch, and your dad’s favourite – apple crumble. As soon as we arrive your dad will take off one shoe: Just one mind.
I’ll ask for red wine but will only drink it if it is given to me in a very specific cup and if you hold it to my lips whenever I shout. I will jut my tongue in and out of it without ever actually drinking it as that’s just how I will roll.
Once dinner is served your dad will refuse to sit at the table and announce he hates lasagne. He will cry and continually request chocolate milk and a bread roll.
I will eat your lasagne … If the stars are aligned, but be warned, if I get so much as a whiff of a vegetable I will straight up regurgitate it into your open hand. Half way through the lasagne I may decide it’s no longer my favourite – I think it was a different shade last time I had it – and I’ll demand dessert.
Your father will eat the custard, and the crumble topping but then he will discover there’s apple in the bowl and simultaneously shit himself and realise he’s only wearing one shoe which will devastate him.
He will then lie on the floor and eat any old food he can find in between the cracks in your floorboards that you cooked days ago. Probably lasagne – just tastier than the fresh lasagne on the table.
At some point I will want to hold my wine cup myself and when you’re not looking I’ll just let it tip out over your most recent or precious purchase.
We will go to bed at 7pm quite easily and instead of going to bed too, you stupidly will stay up to actually enjoy your evening and watch whatever the equivalent of Breaking Bad is in 2035. You will retire for the evening at about 11.30pm.
At 11.32pm I will start screaming as though I’m being slaughtered. As soon as you get out of your toasty bed I’ll stop. I will continue this every hour on the hour until 4am.
Your father will wake up at 11.45pm and start shouting out numbers, colours, modes of transport and favourite characters from his favourite TV program.
He will continue to do this every two hours on the hour.
At around 3.30am he will crawl in the dark on his hands and knees in search of an object – any object – then find the radiator in the room and bang his object against the radiator until you give up and get up at 4am.
(He may find a tambourine or xylophone – you probably don’t remember even buying them! But he can find them like a pig searching for truffles).
The next day we will both insist on chocolate cake for breakfast and make you watch utter shite on repeat for 4 hours.
Just when you think you can’t take anymore Grandma will pop round. She’ll give you a leaflet about the dangers of drinking too much and how it makes you terrible sons and give us a chocolate cake and a cuddle and take us off to the pub.
Prepare yourself lads,
We’re looking forward to it.
(Revenge is a dish best served cold, and that lasagne better be stone cold or I won’t touch it).
At age two, to a goose, I wouldn’t say boo
whereas you son, would shoot it and stuff it too.
Why is it you?
who cant sit still, while fifteen others do,
Who has to play with the fire extinguisher on the wall,
while everyone else is queuing, single file, down the hall?
Why is it you who has to snatch the block off the three month old,
who doesn’t seem to acknowledge anything you are told,
who needs to jump up and down at the front,
who has to roar, bark, gurn and grunt?
Why do you always rugby tackle the babies,
leap and stomp and stamp on the daisies?
When others are sitting, listening sweetly in a trance,
why are you performing a deranged, erratic, river dance?
When everyone is singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ notes
why are you trying to shove the maracas down your throat?
About six months ago or more I bought a Peppa Pig cup cake pack from T’co-op.
I saw it, in between the cheese aisle and the wine aisle and I had a vision: There was me in my kitchen, two ankle biters next to me on cute stools. We were all wearing matching novelty aprons. My eldest was cracking an egg into a giant bowl. My youngest was adorably licking the wooden spoon. Icing sugar filled the air as we all chuckled spooning the mixture into the cup cake holders.
“Just think of the instagram pictures!” I thought! Just think.
Well six months passed and I glanced at the packet between making mountains of toast and wiping arses and cleaning and laundry and drinking and the time never came.
This morning – I don’t have a clue what possessed me but the baby was napping and my three year old was on his tenth tantrum of the day and maybe I was still drunk but I thought – let’s do it! I announced to the child “shall we make some cakes?” with smug glee.
I was finally going to be one of those mums who mother fudging BAKES BABY!
He looked at me with about as much enthusiasm as the average person would if I asked them if they wanted to help me lance a boil.
We weren’t wearing aprons. We were both wearing sweaty onesies. We weren’t in the kitchen as we can’t possibly fit in due to the bags of recycling and wine bottles as well as the oven being a death trap. No icing sugar filled the air because we are renting and I am a control freak.
Did he want to crack the egg? No.
Did he want to pour the mixture in? No.
Did he want to stir? Hell no!
Did he want to lick the spoon? (obviously the best part of baking). Did he bollocks! He looked at the spoon of creamy goodness like it was a pile of cockroach anuses on a Bush Tucker Trial.
He actually started crying like he was being tortured.
Then came the pleasure of waiting for the fuckers to be cooked. Turns out 12 minutes in child minutes equates to 100 hours of pure Hell. Then having to explain we couldn’t put the icing on (which I had already managed to fuck up) until they were cool brought another trauma no doubt he will be reliving to a counsellor in twenty years time – or Jeremy Kyle.
This is not how I envisaged mother and son baking time to be. And no I didn’t include the baby – are you crazy? Bull in a china shop springs to mind. A piglet in a cake factory would be a closer analogy. I have enough problems. The two of them would probably gang up on me and I would end up being pushed into the oven like the witch.
So we eventually iced the bastards and popped a sticker on the top.
They were as hard as rocks and tasted like scrambled egg. Despite this he seemed to enjoy eating them but I have a feeling Mr Kipling would have made him happier.
I am not deterred though – I want to make Gingerbread men this Christmas, but now I know the truth and my vision has shifted. Just like our vision of motherhood changes after being slapped in the face repeatedly with the wet kipper that is reality.
Instagram / Pinterest – they lie! Our perfect visions of motherhood are utter bullshit. Motherhood – not quite what it says on the tin.
“We made a cake didn’t we?” I chirped to him.
“Yes” he said.
“Is making cakes fun?” I asked.
“No” he said firmly and went back to watching Paw Patrol.