A BLOG post entitled ‘Fourteen steps to follow before you have children’ reached me this week, along with probably thousands of others as it apparently went viral around the world. It’s deserved success is due to its witty, perceptive insights into the everyday difficulties and frustrations of parenthood, all dressed up as a test for would be parents.
My favourite is ‘Test 4: Dressing Small Children’:
1. Buy a live octopus and a string bag.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that no arms hangout.
Time Allowed: 5 minutes.
I also liked the final test: ‘Getting ready for work’:
1. Pick a day on which you have an important meeting.
2. Put on your finest work attire.
3. Take a cup of cream and put 1 cup of lemon juice in it
5. Dump half of it on your nice silk shirt
6. Saturate a towel with the other half of the mixture
7. Attempt to clean your shirt with the same saturated towel
8. Do not change (you have no time).
9. Go directly to work
A lot of bloggers, myself included, stick to top 5s or 10s in their posts, so this writer clearly exhausted all of her ideas when hitting 14. But I might be able to help with a 15th, just to round it up.
First, a little bit of background. The Duchess works night shifts (5pm-3.30am, including travel) every other weekend. This is one of those weekends. So, I had the pleasure of taking Boy Wonder and Little Buddha to a late afternoon party at an urban farm a few miles from our house. The Duchess dropped us off on the way to her work and the Kids and I spent the next two hours having lots of fun looking at animals, scoffing and playing party games.
As the other parents drove off into the moonlight, I strapped Little Buddha into the buggy and Boy Wonder got on a ‘boogie board’ at the back. I then spent the next 50 minutes pushing this heavy carriage up the hill from the farm to our home.
We got in just before 7pm and, despite the late hour and my horrendous coughing fit and back ache (who’d have thought I completed a half marathon PB in the Great North Run only a month ago), I ran a bath for the Little Tykes – largely because they’d been near animals and I feared the Duchess would have lamped me tomorrow if I hadn’t scrubbed them back to city-dwelling normality.
The Episode started with Little Buddha, clad just in her nappy, coming into the bathroom to say one word: ‘Poo’. Bless her, I thought, she’s learning to tell us when she’s filled her nappy.
While I was cleaning her up, Boy Wonder, who had just had a pee on the loo, screamed that he needed a poo as he jumped back out of the bath, soaking the landing as he raced to the toilet. He refused to wipe his exhaust pipe, so I dealt with my second clean-up operation in 60 seconds.
I got them both settled in the bath and shampooed (ahem) their hair. Then it happened. Not for the first time in my parenting life, a Dirty Snake floated to the surface of our domestic pond. It was close to Boy Wonder but I could tell from the sheer shock on his face that he wasn’t the perpetrator. I looked across at Little Buddha, who was now standing, the surest sign of guilt in my book.
‘Was that you?’, I asked half politely, half menacingly. She nodded and stared back at me with a solemn face.
I scooped them both out of the bath and wiped them vigorously dry. Then I really panicked: ‘Oh no, your hair needs rinsing’. Using a shower on toddlers is always a joy. Boy Wonder screamed the house down. Little Buddha tried to dive back into the bath water, now very murky. I like to consider myself Mr Laid Back, the Imperturbable One: I used a good dozen derivatives of the word ‘Fuck’ in a mere 30 seconds and silently cried.
I cleaned up the kids, made them warm milk, read a few stories, brushed their teeth, settled them both down. Sighing heavily, I entered the bathroom with industrial cleaners and a bucket and cradled my dear daughter’s expulsions into the more appropriate vestibule. All of the while thinking about that funny little blog post I’d read the day before.
So, here’s my little contribution, which we might call ‘Test 15: Saturday Night’:
1. Call the restaurant and tell the maitre d’ that you’ve got a frozen pizza so you won’t need that exclusive booking after all
2. Call Radiohead’s PR manager and tell him/her that the X-Factor is on so best to give the backstage passes and unlimited Crystal to another couple
3. Push a shopping trolley full of house bricks around the streets for an hour
4. Just at the moment the X-Factor theme kicks in and your frozen pizza looks remotely edible, invite in your neighbour’s nephew to shit in your bath