When I was pregnant, I had a list of things I swore I’d never do. I was going to be the perfect mother, swinging my Cath Kidston changing bag around with the smug air of a woman whose beaver had fully recovered from having a screaming face emerge from it.
I’d always be organised, never leave the house without wet-wipes and have a strict rota for the gurning cuntery of children’s TV presenters. Yeah, turns out that’s all basically shit. I remember watching women dragging their screaming children across shop floors and thinking, ‘Oh God, I’d never do that’. Again, shit. I would always adopt an expression which I hoped might simultaneously convey pity mingled with a frown of disapproval; because children’s arms are delicate, you know.
Dragging them through puddles of their own miserable tears can only do severe physical and mental damage. Now, when I’m pulling my own toddler through the Sale! section of Matalan while she screams ‘wank!’ at me hysterically (she picked it up at nursery; actually it was ‘pile of wank’ to start with, but we’re beating her down), I can almost feel the similar expressions of bump-stroking pompous pregnant women burning into my head. Granted, the fact that Grandad also taught her to shout, ‘not the cupboard again, mummy!’ does make me sound a little like Fritzl, but you can never account for children being able to lock it from the inside. And using their precocious Tetris skills to build a small tower of tampon boxes to stand on.
Interestingly, I found my astoundingly naïve list of ‘things I’ll never do’ the other day; and when I stopped laughing, I actually read them. Here was my top five;
1) No dressing up: I never fully understood the joy in making your child look like a twat before giving birth. The only thing that comes near is watching fat people trip up before looking accusingly behind them at thin air, or seeing the look of despair on people’s faces while they hover over their shitting dog with a perfumed bag over their hand like a little gay glove. I quickly got quite bored with the whole ‘babygro with ears’ situation; if I’d wanted a bear cub, I’d have gone camping and smeared honey on my clunge. The turning point came when we took Ruby to a 1940’s themed weekend dressed as Charlie Chaplin: it was going quite well until she threw a tantrum in Nisa. Apparently flailing arms, a dishevelled quiff and the moustache are more reminiscent of the Nuremburg Rally than Modern Times; short sighted perhaps, but we just didn’t see that coming.
2) TV: Who was I trying to kid here? Did I really think that we’d sit around the dining table playing Monopoly and japing each other wearing beige polo necks? No, our morning starts with a disembodied baby’s head and four fat-bellied tarts gambolling around Astroturf like a chubby Technicolour gangbang.
It’s all very ‘right on’, which is partly why I despise it with every fibre of my black, cynical bones. I don’t care that the female presenter only has one arm, but I do care that she’s shit; I can only resign myself to sniggering into my tea while the producers get her to demonstrate yoga positions that require two arms, minimum. ‘And this is The Snake, she smiles sweetly, her stump twitching like it can smell a piss-take on the wind. No Cerrie, that’s you doing some kind of Nazi salute while formulating sweet, sweet revenge on the Producer.
3) No lying: again, pitiful in its sweet, honest naivety. Lying to kids is brilliant; perhaps not as good as seeing them come off the Ghost Train weeping silently with shit stains seeping through their Gap pants, but a pretty close second. My daughter thinks balloons are made of fairy skin which is why she can’t have them, and if she sticks her hand down the toilet it’ll emerge from a toilet in Albania where a monkey will eat it. When she’s finally old enough to realise that she doesn’t have arms like (a) Mr Tickle or (b) Inspector Gadget, I’ve got a whole load more to crush her with. My current favourite is that pigs are horses for gypsies; I don’t know why, I just like the thought of lots of be-ringed gypsies setting off for market on a family of miserable Saddlebacks, beating them with cucumbers.
4) No swearing: Apparently calling the midwife a ‘cunt bucket’ and the father of your child a ‘knob jockey’ during labour means I could cross this off my list reasonably early on in the process. I do try to monitor my language around Ruby, but we were called to nursery the other day after she’d allegedly called her keyworker a ‘Pikey’. I thought this was unfair given that his name is Mikey and she does have an admittedly fat tongue - I think of it as Jamie Oliver syndrome - but they weren’t having it. I did laugh when I read her daily report sheet; ‘Ruby called Mikey a ‘Pikey’ whilst playing snap.
He snapped (fairly) on two pictures of caravans. Speak to Dad; this will not be tolerated’. Given that I’m meant to be the first point of contact, I can only assume they know I’d laugh like a retard spotting another retard in a cheap slogan t-shirt. ‘I’m the Daddy’? Really? Would it be inappropriate to suggest a wank into a little pot, because you look like you’d struggle to fertilise mushrooms in a gro-bag.
5) No embarrassing her: I fully intend to be singing ‘B B B Bennie and the Jets’ like the stutterer out of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ at her eighteenth birthday party, preferably dressed in something from the Ann Summers fancy dress section; the ‘Pirate Hooker’, perhaps.
When I was pregnant I signed up to something called ‘Babycentre’, which is basically a website that sends you chirpy emails every week to inform you of your baby’s development. Last week they sent me an article on ‘how to cope with your masturbating toddler’. Apparently toddlers can ‘masturbate to orgasm, often with a red face and panting’; and the advice on dealing with this? Distraction. ‘Come on Levi / Chastity / Divine, get your hands from down your pants and come and finish this jigsaw’. Yeah, because that’s going to work, isn’t it? Your best bet is looking the other way and mentally pledging to tell all their friends about it when they’re a teenager; at least then you always have something to look forward to when they’re screaming in your face with snotty tears and wiping their arse on your clothes out of spite.
I genuinely think the best course of action with children is to do whatever makes life easier. And failing that, that’s why God created that fat woman the colour of gravy who puts them on the naughty step on Channel 4.