Parenting 101

Parenting 101

I have a new form of admiration for parents. Last week my sister has foolishly wisely trusted me with her two children. And thus I was thrusted into the world of parenthood with no afore mentioned training or manual. Being an acting-in parent is just so exhausting and I can’t even begin to imagine what the real gig is like!

One of the main reasons I am not a parent yet and happily (carelessly would be the chosen adverb here if my mother was the author) allowing the number of good eggs I have dwindle away is precisely that. I can just about manage to take responsibility for myself let alone have another living being(s) solely depend on my good counsel… I mean what even constitutes as “good”?

I am a chocoholic with no self-restraint and I don’t believe anyone should be deprived of it. Milk on the other hand, now that is gross, I wouldn’t force anyone to have it in fear of forever loathing it. And this is coming from an experienced soul who was tortured as a child with my father’s weird concoction of cardamom and honey infused milk. **gags at the memory** I now have an irrational fear of all three ingredients; I wouldn’t want my niece and nephew to follow suit. Do I mind children playing outside for extended periods of time..? No, not at all, by all means please do. Why would anyone say no to some peace and quiet watching some good old telly without the need to have subtitles and voice-over simultaneously on because of the noises these littlins make! It is truly mystifying.

Of course the end result of my non-conformist untraditional parenting strategy results in rearing insomniac children who are hyperactive, with a Maritime stench, suffering from calcium deficiency and superfluous melanin! Yaay me!  This is probably the underlying reason why I am my niece and nephew’s favourite aunt.


In my quest to be an infallible acting-in parent, I concurred that I should dive straight into all things parenthood; I am not one to do things half-heartedly. So I befriended other parents whom I now had common grounds with, albeit temporary, who have kindly indoctrinated me in all things parenting. I must say I am well versed in a new kind of acronyms these days such as the likes of SEN, LEN, LEA and PTA. I now find myself championing causes that were not so long ago foreign to me. I find myself campaigning for small classroom sizes in schools and volunteering at various events. I even had my own stall bursting with homemade goodies at one of the events. I believe they were called cake bake, cake sale, sell cakes, bake sell cakes, sell bake cake…who knows something to that effect anyways.

My diary now indicates school term times where it once indicated cherished bank holidays. My lifestyle now revolves around childcare duties and forward planning is pretty much part of my realm these days. Spontaneity has taken a backseat in favour of forward planning and that child psychology module I did in my undergraduate days has finally come to some good use.  Yes positive encouragement … that I do utilise quite a bit; stick and carrot chocolate, yes that treatment is quite handy too and a bit of 10 minute strikes here and there does a child (and my sanity) wonders. My egg-timer is called upon in such instances where it once notified me if my quadruple chocolate brownie (yes quadruple you heard it right) was ready to be scoffed, I mean taken out of the oven.

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie

I now know the various after-study school clubs within a 10 metre radius of my post code. I even attended my first ever parents meeting. Of course I attended numerous parents evenings few decades ago but not in my current elevated role as an enquirer of my supposed children’s academic attainment but more as a culprit that needed reporting. Those teachers always found the need to report me to my parents for all sorts of trivia; from the sublime to the ridiculous. My personal favourite was from my science teacher who said that I daydreamed a fair bit in her class. Unbeknown to all parties to that conversation then, such was to be my case forever more. Of course my parents didn’t see day dreaming as trivia. To them if something warranted a report regardless of how big or small it was, then it must be serious. The meeting I attended last week though was altogether different.

I sat amongst other parents where we discussed the faith of the after school club. Our good counsel was called upon to determine the next course of action. There was no time or frankly patience for indecisiveness so I quickly relinquished such known idiosyncrasies and put on my sensible parent hat and thought deep and hard about what I the parent would say should say.  There were penetrating questions (clearly to other parents) thrown in on us. Such as should we still have classes during the Easter break? I with my sensible parent hat on uttered the unthinkable… “Sure lets have classes during the Easter break”.  Because in my head I was thinking parents would need their children at some form of an educational asylum to keep them sane… Nope I was mistaken!

This is what I imagine a sensible parent hat to look like!

This is what I imagine a sensible parent hat to look like!

It transpired that everyone else voted for having Easter off because as one parent put it “they needed a break from toing and froing the length of the city“… I had to quickly retract my vote and act in unison. Clearly I suck at this. I can’t wait to hand over my acting-in parent role and resume my permanent favourite aunt role.

As if the universe was telling me something, I was introduced once more to the world of parents and children this week, though this time in my place of employment working on infrastructure and capacity building for early years. If you are baffled by that it is just a shamancy phrase for working with parents. Seriously you don’t have to be a superstitious person to sense that the cosmos are trying to convey some sort of a message here. I am not a superstitious person, you know what let me go and decipher this cryptic terseness first before I make any ill-founded claims … which reminds me I mustn’t walk through that scaffolding on my way out later.


The Get-Out Clause

I am an unmarried woman who is yet to loan her womb for the advancement of the world. Whilst I can’t give expert commentary on holy or civil matrimony nor on making one’s womb habitable for other beings to survive within it however, I believe that I am well placed to share few personal opines on dating doldrums and other paraphernalia. I am not a paragon of familial union or maybe I am but let’s not digress because this is not what this post is intended to be.

I have given the dating charade a passing chance here and there. In 99.99% reoccurring of the cases, friendship was both the get-in and get-out clause. I have only partaken in such exercises once or twice, maybe thrice at a push if we widen the criterion and add the hot guy from my college days who at a closer inspection and one date night at Pizza Hut later turned out to be what our cousins across the pond would call a douche.

Of course this process isn’t representative of all. But there is no reason why my own ethnographic study couldn’t be replicated.

I am a very guarded individual and thus it is hard to let those sentries down for any man, or women may I add. Unsurprisingly when it comes to dating it is the same. I say dating, it is anything but. I equate “dating” (ok we’ll stick with the word for now because I can’t think of a suitable synonym) to a phone contract.

No reputable phone company will allow you to just walk away with a brand new off the shelf state of the art mobile device and entrust you to keep up with monthly payments for 36 months without doing some rigorous examination. I too follow suit minus the credit check because how much a man makes or doesn’t is none of my business (damn you feminist ideologies for leading me astray from the much desired and lucrative path of gold digging. I once scolded an affiliate for showering me with gifts, would you believe it; on the basis that I am more than capable of buying my own gifts).

I subject my potential affiliates to meticulous and painstaking examinations that would last anything from 2 years to a lifetime. Some people just ooze suspicion so they are put under permanent surveillance. Such examination ranges from, but are not limited to: surveillance in the form of internet trawling, cross examination (usually with fellow female companions), character reference, covert participant observation (to the man in question this usually translates as: she is digging me but playing hard to get so let me up my game), overt participant observation (to the man in question this usually translates as: she is a flirt and probably equates to numerous other things in his head that I fortunately aren’t privy to).

With each test that is passed the male in question moves up a rank. Accepting a friend request on whatever social medium I feel most comfortable with adding him to, to exchanging email accounts (I must admit to begin with their emails are delivered to the junk inbox and are treated as suspicious sender), to adding them to my mobile phone’s contacts list once I am satisfied with their writing skills. If he can manage to write/send an email with most linguistic rules intact with the odd LOL thrown in for good measure, he can proceed.. it is all in the writing my friends, it is all in the writing.

If a man can conjure up a simple declarative sentence other than ‘I want you tonight’ it is a good indicative, as any, that his dealings are that of elevated social groups, not the one-night-stand types. I must admit that I suffer from an innate subconscious ability to read between the lines. Ambiguous grammar punctuation is a turn off. Am I alone in thinking so?

Of course I make an exemption for hipsters, no need for tests where they are concerned. I say let us go on few tree hugging sprees and dabble in some bohemian sensibilities whilst enjoying the sweet sound of alternative music. I’ll happily gift you my favourite black skinny jeans for you to titivate, when yours has come off at the seams.

Hipsters aside, once a potential affiliate has passed all the required competency tests they enter the coveted stage of ‘getting to know one another’. This stage is more organic and more often than not lasting friendships emerge from it that transcends distance, language, religion and culture. What can I say I am an international lover!

Google translate and my listening skills come in very handy when the person in question doesn’t speak any of the Lingua Francas I am versed in. I just listen to them and pick up the odd word and depending on what translation Google feels like giving me that day (because that thing is a fickle) I make up the rest of the conversation based around that word/phrase.

Similarly when the romantic endeavours of both parties come to an abrupt cul-de-sac, the sustained friendship refrains both parties to the contract to cancel it altogether and return to the perfect strangers we were. Bit like you fulfilling your contractual obligations to the phone company, and once the company is satisfied that you aren’t a dodgy person they offer you more lucrative deals in the hope that you will stay with them longer. Friendship is thus the get-out clause. See, there is a point to all those tests after all.

And on that note…Happy Thursday lovers! Believe it or not, Thursday is the start of the weekend for many. The rest of us mere mortals such exoneration shall await till 5pm Friday.