Before I had children…

I was in my early twenties, on a bus in Edinburgh, and I saw a mother pull down a toddler’s trousers and pants, then hold them over a drain on a busy street so they could pee. I was horrified! What kind of person would do that in public?

When I bought my first house I came home one day and spotted my neighbour’s kids sitting on their doorstep looking glum. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.
‘We’re grounded out.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘We’re not allowed back into the house for an hour.’
I was shocked – those poor children. I kept an eye on that family after that…

I was a recruitment consultant and had phoned a temp to offer them some work. As we spoke, her child kept bellowing ‘muuuuuum!’ in the background, despite her repeatedly hissing at them to be quiet. If I ever have kids, they’ll be much better disciplined than that…

Oh, how life laughs at me now.

I saw a documentary about old fashioned methods of child rearing, and was startled to hear a tip from an experienced nanny: avoid eye contact with babies if you want to get them to sleep. How cruel, I thought, picturing myself cradling and singing a beautiful baby to sleep in my arms. I forgot about the programme for several years. It came back to me one night about 3am, as I sat in our hall in the dark with my husband, listening to my middle child as he bawled his head off in his cot.


‘Think we should try again to get him to lie down?’ my husband asked with weary despair – as soon as our son could pull himself onto his feet, he had stood in the corner of his cot screaming for attention for at least an hour of every night. He sometimes fell asleep like that then smashed his head off the bars of the cot, waking himself back up in an endless vicious circle.
‘OK, go and make him lie down, but remember not to speak to him or look him in the eye…’

I could have called this post, What I’ve learned since becoming a parent:

  • if your newly-out-of-nappies toddler wants to pee, you have about 20 seconds, if you’re lucky, to find somewhere – and a drain is better than it seeping down their trousers.
  • older children can be so noisy and irritating, crashing about your house, shrieking and yelling and breaking things and asking for food, they should consider themselves lucky to only be put out for an hour.
  • young children view a phone in their parent’s hand as an invitation to talk to them. They just don’t seem to get it that you’re talking to someone else. When my kids were young and I knew I had to make an important phone call, I’d need plenty of time to prepare for it – get a good TV programme ready, lay out some snacks, ensure they’d been to the toilet, separate rooms so there’d be no fighting.
  • supernanny says you can beat bad sleep habits with a week of controlled crying. Ha! She’s so wrong. It takes months. And that’s without eye contact!.

2 thoughts on “Before I had children…

  1. Yup, and don’t think that it’s just young children that view a phone in their parent’s hand as an invitation to talk – this continues into the teen years too. The phone rang yesterday afternoon, I took the call in the living room and within seconds I heard feet bounding down the stairs, the door opens and in comes my teen, his baseball cap on the wrong way round, and performs a Mexican wave accompanied by booping noises. They’re unreal!

    Liked by 1 person

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