Advice you really need

There is advice that you listen to; there is advice that should be listened to but you have to find out for yourself; and there is advice that needs to be filed under F for FUCK. OFF.

The last category of crap advice is in plentiful supply in everyday life: “Smile, it might never happen.” Oh, really? You’re so profound, you total and utter chuffwit. I mean, how the flunk do you know that it hasn’t already happened? Or perhaps this is just how my face looks when I’m concentrating, or for that matter, resting. And even if I do have a terrible case of Bitch-Resting-Face the thing you seem to be ignoring is that it’s MY FACE. And above all else, does this piece of advice ever actually work? I mean, perhaps you consider a tense, narrow-lipped grimace that screams DO. ONE. a smile, but I would rather my smiles be, you know, happy.

Phew.

Sorry about that, but crap, cliched advice flung out with as much thought as a knee-jerk gets right on my left tit.

And it only gets worse when you become a parent.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of the type of advice that is so well-worn it’s practically transparent, the king of which has to be, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. Oh, please. And when exactly is that? And if I did, I would smell of cheese and no one would be my friend and apparently it’s all about the making of the friends when you are a new mum. They are the ones that keep you sane, get you out of the house, who will “get” you when all you want to talk about is how many poos the baby has done, and precisely which stage on the BabyCentre poo chart he/she has reached. But if I just sleep when the baby sleeps then I’ll resemble Worzel Gummidge and get invited nowhere so, really, please don’t say this again or I’ll have to punch you in your perfectly rested face.

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I’ve been sleeping when the baby sleeps.

And then when the sleep deprivation gets too much, and you are crying about how your fanny feels like it’s been hit by a NutriBullet, and how you fear you’ll never walk further than the end of your own road ever again, or actually sit down to eat a meal without having a small person screaming in your ear, the last thing you need to hear is, “Well, at least the baby is healthy, that’s the main thing.” FFS. OF COURSE THAT IS THE MAIN THING YOU TOTAL FUCKTARD… Most of us don’t actually scream this in the face of the well-intentioned but ultimate imbecile who just uttered these words in your presence BUT does this really qualify as advice or reassurance? Of course the baby being healthy is numero uno in the list of things you want right now, but is it really too much to ask to be offered a sympathetic ear and some encouragement? I found being told “You just gave birth to a baby, you’re a hero” usually made me feel a bit better, followed by a long list of reasons explaining exactly why I was awesome, and why my baby was lucky to have ME. To top it off, this would also be accompanied by a cup of tea and some biscuits while someone else took the baby for a walk around the block (I hope you’re taking notes if you’re related to, or friends with, someone about to have a baby).

The fact is, however, that the list of useless advice that floats around us every day, pissing me off with its pithy “wisdom”, is endless – you’re making a rod for your own back?…No, I’m not. And even if I am, IT’S MY BACK… more haste, less speed?. .. yeah, yeah… Keep calm and carry on?… How about you keep calm with my finger in your eye…? What I really wish was around was a list of advice that would have actually helped me avoid wasting time and energy.

I wish someone had caught me by the shoulder and told me not to allow the small people to take anything other than themselves into their bed. Maybe then I would not have  allowed The Eldest to take a new pair of shoes to bed with her. You will know the ones as Before Parenting you will have dismissed them as hideous, while judging the parents as sartorial retards because who else would buy their child shoes with flashing lights in the soles? Now I know that most parents just want to get out of the shoe shop with everyone still alive, so if the small person wants shoes that light up like a tiny disco then that is fine.

So, The Eldest had flashing shoes, I was tired, she took them to bed. After an hour and a half of lighting up her bedroom like a crime scene, punctuated by the smacks of the soles being banged together like really-shit symbols, she finally fell asleep like this:

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I realise the pillow case seems odd but my daughter’s hair is easily dried and dred-locked. Silk does not dry hair as much as cotton but unsurprisingly there is not a huge amount of silk bedding aimed at toddlers. As a result we were stuck with a choice between 70s porn-star chic or Rastamouse…

Another piece of advice that would have saved me a whole lot of hassle over the last couple of years is “Don’t bother making picnic food.” I never learn and always approach a picnic with a total lack of realism. Despite all of the types of food The Eldest does NOT like, it is remarkable just how perfectly picnic food suits her – she likes a carrot, cucumber and bread stick; she likes a cheese sandwich and a humous-filled pitta bread; she likes strawberries and grapes; and she likes crisps. She really likes crisps. I generally don’t pack them though, I pack all the other stuff. I spend actual time preparing it all, wrapping it carefully in tin foil and filling up the cool bag (I don’t own a cool bag, it’s a plastic bag, or just the underneath of the buggy). So, the picnic is packed, the crisps are not. So how is it possible that within minutes of arriving at any picnic, my carefully prepared offerings are rejected in favour of her plunging her entire arm elbow-deep into a family-sized packet of Walkers Sensations? She wanders around like a miniature James Herriot and resists all of my efforts to tempt her to eat actual food. Advice to self – when it comes to picnics I should dial down the effort and just leave her to her veterinary training.

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There she goes, armpit deep…

The list of parenting advice that I need to be reminded of on a daily basis goes on and on: don’t laugh the first time the one-year-old dives backwards out of your arms – you catch him with a giggle, a kiss and an exclamation of wonder about what a risk-taker he is – he continues to prove you right every time you pick him up. So what if you’re also carrying a scalding hot cup of tea, I mean that just adds to the excitement, right..? Don’t tell a two-year-old a bedtime story that features her as the main character unless you want to be wracking your brains every night for the next five years – that is 1825 plot lines – are you really sure you’re up for that commitment? And don’t tell a three-year old about the Mermaid themed birthday party 5 weeks before it actually happens, unless responding to the question “Can I be a mermaid now” 5 times a day for the next 35 days is your idea of conversation…

On and on and on, I could go. As I’m sure you could too – go on, make a girl feel better, what advice would you give yourself, and which would you file under F?

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