To give a little context to this post, I’m not usually one for long winded ramblings about why kids are so great. Usually it’s pretty much the opposite. I’m also not one for indignant rants about the ignorance of other people because let’s face it, we all know that other people can be right bellends and you’re better off just sticking to the ones you know are pretty decent. That’s just the way it is. Yesterday I overheard a snippet of a conversation and have been mulling it over ever since. Maybe I didn’t hear the rest, maybe there was more. Maybe there wasn’t. Either way it got me thinking.
So it starts out with Beast 1 having been under the weather for the last couple of days – sore throat, bit of a temperature, general clammy-ness. He insisted on coming with me to town to pick up my new glasses and promised he felt well enough. I did get around to choosing those new frames in the end; I have to say that Sally in specsavers looked pretty alarmed when we walked back in to collect them.
Errands run, and dodging the twenty or so people loitering outside catching invisible Pokemon with their phones *wtf*, we made our way to Costa as Jasper had a pretty sore throat again so I’d promised an icy drink to make him feel a bit better. Now given how The Beasts usually behave in public, Jasper was being exceptionally good & was waiting patiently in line for our turn. Oscar was at home with daddy so all in all, nothing much to report. It was pretty busy and there weren’t that many staff in, so the line was slow going and usually this would be cause for panic, because if there’s one thing The Beasts definitely do not excel at, it’s behaving themselves in long queues surrounded by cake and hot beverages.
In Jasper’s hand was a chocolate lolly – you know the ones in the foil wrappers that are basically just slabs of chocolate on a stick, and he was allowed to choose this in M & S as a little treat because he wasn’t feeling too great. So anyway, he’s eating his lolly and every so often he pauses to look around, and when he does so, his arm moves automatically and the melted, sloppy top of the lolly gets closer and closer to the lady in front of us.
Now the lady in front of us was really rather perfect; perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect nails and general perfectness all round. Stark contast to The Beast and I, who look like we’ve been dragged through a hedge and then smeared in various foodstuffs at the end. Each time the lolly comes close, she glances down in disgust and flicks the (non existent) chocolate off her perfect jeans. This happens about four times. Now I completely understand that a stranger does not want chocolate smeared all over his or her clothes. That’s not what this about, before anyone gets upset. And I wasn’t just watching and letting him do it, as I do feel it’s important to teach children to be mindful & respectful of other people, so each time I reminded him to be careful where he waves his lolly & not to get it on the lady.
Whilst this is all going on, Jasper’s jabbering away about my glasses, how poorly he’s been, why his drink is taking so long, whether he’s allowed a cake and a Lolly and an icy drink (he isn’t) and to be honest, as a fairly well established parent, some of it just filters out and you hear the main bits (enough to say no to cake, lolly and cooler at any rate) and just nod along to the rest. This clearly isn’t a skill miss perfect in front has mastered however, because it appeared as if Jasper’s chattering was literally and physically hurting her ears, and every few seconds she’d glare at him out of the corner of her eye, wince, then roll her eyes, and then rub her ear in a rather exaggerated fashion. I felt like saying to her: “look, I get it, not everyone loves listening to a small boy talk incessantly at midday on a Sunday while waiting (ages) for a coffee, but he’s really not doing any harm and actually, just cut him some slack – he’s five years old and has as much right as anyone else to stand in this queue and talk to his mother. And the lolly hasn’t touched you once, so calm down.”
But I didn’t. We waited, I manovered Jasper back a bit, and she eye rolled, and at one point I though she was going to break her neck where she was craning it round to check there was no smear of chocolate on her jeans (there wasn’t) and everyone got their drinks. As we slowly walked past on our way out, due to the general fannying around that was going on with getting bags hooked on the right arms and making sure the drink lids were on tight, to her companion I heard her say: “God that kid was getting chocolate all over me. And he was so annoying.” *shudders* to which her companion smirks and says “not a fan of children then, no?” She then replies “eurgh no: I’m lucky enough to be child free thanks.”
Now this turn of phrase took me aback, as if having children is just a result of terrible bad luck and no one had any choice in the matter, like when you get cancer or run over by a bus or something. Certainly not like our children were carefully planned and very much wanted, and not like there’s thousands of people on this planet that are not lucky enough to be able to have children. And yes I get it that actually, some people just don’t want kids, and I completely respect that choice, but in any event, it is a choice. It’s not random luck.
In that moment, there was nothing to be gained from stopping and asking her what she meant, not least because the sugar bomb from the chocolate pop was due to detonate and I didn’t want to reinforce her belief any further with a hyper little gerbil hanging off my leg, so I didn’t, but to that lady, there’s some things I could have said.
I could have said:
Lucky is having two healthy children.
Lucky is having no problem conceiving those children, having decided that we were ready to bring them into the world.
Lucky is having few problems growing those children.
Lucky is delivering those children in a hospital, with midwives and doctors and modern medicine, and the NHS.
Lucky is having enough food to feed those children and having clean water for them to drink.
Lucky is having decent schools and doctors and dentists and everything you need to keep those children safe, well, educated and (eventually / hopefully) turn them into productive members of society.
Lucky is having bright, enthusiastic little Beasts who bring light into our lives and surprise us every day. Who make us smile and laugh (and yes, cry into our wine at night sometimes but hey ho, at least I can afford wine – lucky.) Little people who make me question how I see the world and make me consider how I can make the world a better place for them to grow up in. The conversations about whether snails are important and where bubbles come from, does the Gruffalo really live in the Deep Dark Wood and why boys have different bits to girls. What are clouds made out of (cotton wool, obviously) and if bees make honey then do wasps make jam? (No, wasps do nothing for anything and exist only to ruin picnics and fall in your sweet drinks like the bastards they are.)
Being able to get out of boring social events early by looking at your *perfectly awake* children, shaking your head, ruffling their hair and saying “best get you home to bed, SUCH a shame we can’t stay.” Or having an excuse to pile onto the sofa with a bowl (massive bag) of popcorn and the duvet to watch The Little Mermaid. (No, you can’t swap your legs for a fishtail and live with the fishies Jasper.) Reading all the books you used to love from childhood to your own children and falling in love with them all over again – seriously how great was Roald Dahl? And seeing your children fall in love with them too. Sprinkling porridge oats mixed with glitter onto your lawn on Christmas Eve (for the reindeer) and seeing their eyes alight with magic. I think that’s lucky.
I think lucky is knowing how lucky you are.
Other than the odd bout of gastroenteritis, which to be fair, is hideous – I can’t say that there’s anything particularly unlucky about the life we have with our children and was surprised at how flippant she was about being lucky to not have kids. Maybe it was just an offhand comment. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism because she’s being trying to conceive for years and been unsuccessful. Maybe she just hates kids. I don’t know. But I wanted to say to her: I see you, and your perfect exterior, and you see me, with my (not) perfect exterior, and you judge me for creating life. You judge me for doing the best I can and giving my child a chocolate pop when he feels unwell. You judge me for having the children that you don’t have and you judge me for allowing my child to irritate you in a queue of people in a shop. And I judge you, for how perfect you are, and how great you look, and how quiet your Sunday’s probably going to be.
It’s a question I’ve asked many times, but where has the solidarity gone? And the tolerance? Children are expected to behave like adults and to be seen and not heard, before they’ve even had the chance to understand what that means. And if you’re carting round a couple (or more) kids and looking frizzy and exhausted on a Sunday afternoon, you’re unlucky, you poor sod. Look at you, you really lucked out there with those accidental children that just appeared out of nowhere.
Sure. Sometimes they are hard work. Sometimes you wonder if you made the right choices and whether you’re any good at this parenting lark. But sometimes I also sit and wonder if I’ve made the right sandwich for lunch & whether I should have made a different one. I’m still pretty lucky to have a sandwich at all.
Absolutely sometimes it’s easy to be envious of those people that aren’t woken up a twat o’clock every morning with a poke in the eye and a pat on the head, and sure, sometimes you want to cry when you’ve finally managed to make yourself look presentable in something you don’t feel like ten tonne tessie in, only for one of your kids to vomit all over it or flick yoghurt at you. Yes that’s shit. But there’s so much of it that isn’t shit and that’s what never gets remembered. So to you miss perfect, I should have said, actually I’m the lucky one, not you.
Oh and I also hope that your cake was dry and that you didn’t realise your coffee had gone stone cold before you took a massive slurp. Just because you called my child annoying. Only i’m allowed to do that – because I made him. So there.
As always, likes, shares and comments are appreciated!
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