After four years of extensive research in the field of parenting, Sophie White has made a breakthrough discovery about children
Children, in theory, should totally work. They are cute. They’re smaller than us. They are easily distracted. It all sounds manageable, no? Even, dare I say it, pleasant? And yet – yep, there’s that pesky ‘yet’ – much of the time they are a goddamn nightmare. If you live with a child, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you live with a child, it is likely that you have suffered a child-related injury (and could be eligible for a claim which basically means spending the child allowance on a takeaway). Child-related injuries may include scooter-inflicted shin bruising and shouting-relating loss of voice.
Of course, as a species, they are incredibly crafty. They’ve managed to secure themselves ‘sacred cow’ status meaning if you ever bad mouth them, a veritable pile on ensues similar to what happens when you tell people you don’t love puppies.
As convention demands, before I launch into any (even mild) critique of children, I must preface it with acknowledging that children are a blessing, they are miracle angels who we all adore. However, there is a crucial design flaw with children, or more specifically with my children.
They are essentially made of me…
… and I don’t particularly like me.
Thankfully, they’re not 100% made of me, perhaps more like 25% me but it’s that little ‘me’ bit that gets amplified when they are making my life miserable (for short stretches, in between being joy-dispensers, I hastily add lest anyone accuse me of not being grateful enough for my kids).
As the tantrum starts building and peaking (his and mine), myself and the four-year-old face each other down and his beautiful little face contorts in rage and I think “I know that face.” It’s this design flaw, that our children basically are us that makes having kids a lot like living in a confined space with a very small, very angry version of yourself.
“He is me,” I think as he flings stuff around and shouts and cries. And somehow because he is me, nobody is worse than I am at trying to calm him down. During public rages, even passing strangers have successfully diffused the situation better than I ever could. I suppose this stems from the utter futility of arguing with yourself, but it doesn’t stop me feeling like a complete failure.
One of the main problems with children is that there’s only a very short space of time before they start exerting their own free will. Very short. A matter of days really. And as an adult it’s hard, baffling even to suddenly have something so tiny overpowering you.
Parenthood as a whole could basically be boiled down to a series of irritating catch 22s. For example, they’re old enough to insist on doing everything themselves but only very badly. They are adorable and cuddly but also very, very sticky (well mine are anyway). They want to be independent but have all the coordination and sense of an extremely belligerent drunk who doesn’t want to go home at the end of the night.
I used to think all these catch 22s were grossly unfair until I hit the mother load of irritating parenting related catch 22s: the one person you might have turned to for help on this matter, your own mother, is utterly useless because you are her and he is you and families are essentially just a whole elaborate Russian Doll situation with people coming out of people willy nilly, with each new person crazier and more batsh*t than the last.
This realisation has at least served to bring my mother and I closer together. I apologised for everything I’d done as a child and she relented and accepted that my older child’s genetic baggage, aka his adorably crazy ways, was all her fault.
While you’re here, have you listened to our new podcast The Spill with Sophie White and Rhona McAuliffe?
This week’s episode kicks off with an examination of Janelle Monaé’s PYNK, which features her and her fellow dancers in opulent pink vagina trousers. Sophie and Rhona go on to discuss if people are treated differently because of their level of beauty and finish by helping a reader who can’t stop fantasising about women.