A couple of days ago I posted Part 1 of ‘Things they don’t tell you…’ written when DorkySon was just a few months old. This is Part 2, covering the additional lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years.
I was foolish enough to envisage that DorkySon child would be ‘part of my life’. That he would have his own room, where all his belongings would stay, and that there would still be parts of the house, and of my life, untouched by him.
Ha! Not so! DorkySon shares everything with me. He stashes his Lego bricks in my pillowcase. He sneezes, coughs and splutters his bodily fluids all over me, just to make sure that whatever cold he has, I catch too. And if he is eating something he doesn’t like, he will expect me to stick my hand out and catch it, when he spits it out.
In return, I am expected to share everything with DorkySon. Nothing is my own anymore. He will refuse his own sandwich but insist on eating half of mine. He will want to try every cleanser, toner and moisturiser I bring in the house, cheerfully oblivious to their price tags. He empties my underwear drawer, rearranges my bookshelves, and when I’ve got visitors he has been known to walk into the room with a handful of Kotex, saying “Dat?”.
So, acknowledging that having a child is all-consuming, life-altering, and very messy, here are ten other important lessons that I’ve learned during my time with DorkySon.
1. If you have an inkling that your child is now tall enough to vault out of their cot, lower the mattress immediately. Do not wait for them to prove you right.
2. You can bet your ass the first time you leave your child with someone else overnight, it will be the first time they need to go to the Sick Kids Hospital. You will feel awful.
3. You will notice that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of time you spend preparing a meal, and the enjoyment your child gets from it. If you spend an hour making something tasty and nutritious, it is very likely to be dumped unceremoniously on the floor after one mouthful. If you stick a couple of fish fingers and some chips in the oven, they will be hoovered up. For your own sanity, learn not to take this personally.
4. It will take all your restraint not to slap the woman in the street that calls your child podgy. This exercise in self-control is excellent practice for the day that your child pats you on the bottom and says “Mama Fat!”
5. When the third person in a row has complimented you on how beautiful your daughter is, it’s time for your son’s first haircut.
6. Unless you want to pay £60 to repair the ‘water damage’ to your iPod, keep it out of your child’s reach while he is teething.
7. When your health visitor tells you that a baby who sleeps well does not necessarily equate to a toddler who sleeps well, do not scoff at her. She’s absolutely right.
8. If your child shows an interest in helping with the laundry this should be encouraged. However, always make sure you have cleaned any cookie remnants off his hands before he deals with a load of whites. Otherwise you will need to do them all again.
9. Don’t be surprised if your child’s only interest in his potty for the first few months is wearing it on his head.
10. Just when you are reaching the end of your tether – tired, impatient, and in need of a large glass of wine – your child will do something amazing for the first time. The first smile, first laugh, first steps, first colourful crayon scribble, first words… all designed to remind you why you became a parent in the first place. They are nae daft, toddlers… they have well developed survival instincts.