Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Belgian Waffle teen abstinence lecture, first draft

I did not think I would have children. Throughout my teens and early twenties the memory of my vampire younger sister, non-sleeping demon that she was, smeared in baked bean juice with peanut butter in her hair, burned brightly and indelibly. I remained stony hearted in the face of babies; I would far rather touch a dead pigeon, or deadly spider, than a baby - they seemed a bit gross to me, and invariably ugly. I did not see any up side to babies, unlike dogs, or horses. Disturbed sleep, filth, incontinence, deadly boring non-conversations about some or other biscuit, or puddle. No. Decidedly it was not for me.


And yet, by some weird alchemy, I got ecstatically, deliberately pregnant at twenty six, by far the first person I knew to go down that road. That story is for another day. For these purposes, I will only say that my younger self was quite correct. Disturbed sleep, filth, incontinence and deadly boring non-conversations were all indeed part of the process. They weren't the hardest parts either (anyone else have a total, intractable clash with their partner on vital aspects of parenting? No? Just me then). But it was right, and wonderful (and awful) and mercifully, very funny. Funny is important. I had not realised that babies and small children could be such a lasting, ever-changing source of hilarity. They are funnier and funnier. I am ridiculously privileged to have them.



However I am not here to sing the praises of my children. I have just squirted ketchup on my foot and ketchup is my least favourite thing in the world ever. I have had to take my sock off and am risking my toes with the weepette and still shuddering in a post-traumatic fashion. It has made me want to list the worst things about having children. The small things that suck my will to live from every pore simultaneously.



1. Ketchup. I would never have imagined I would live in a house containing ketchup, let alone handle it. It makes me retch, even touching the bottle. And yet here I am, face contorted in a rictus of disgust, wiping ketchup off my big toe and wishing to erase the last five minutes from my memory forever.



2. Sand. I hate sand so much. Oh god, how I hate sand. I have mentioned this before. Why must small children like sand? Whenever I step into a sandpit, I get goosebumps all over. The sound of flesh against sand is simply the most hideous noise ever, worse than unglazed china. Wiping sandy feet, ugh. I have come face to face with so much sand in the last seven years. I am praying for the day they don't like it anymore. Please can this be soon?

3. Putting socks on. Why must children's socks be so small and unstretchy? And their feet so unyielding, and always facing the wrong way? Why do they still make me do it when they are old and in perfect control of their limbs for the purposes of playing Mario Party Eight? Why do I give in? I have no answers. But there is a design fault.

4. Public swimming pools. Children love splashing in that delightful soup of old plasters, bleach and verrucas. I hate it. Hate hate hate. And then, adding insult to injury, the icy changing rooms. The lost pants. More of the cursed socks. And then small children, giggling delightfully, opening the door to the changing room and running away as you stand wearing a grey bra, one sock and no pants. I'm going again tomorrow morning. Pray for me.

5. Splitting up fights. Siblings. You are boring. I don't care who did what to who or who had the larger crisp. It makes me die inside. Again, I have said this before; but this is exactly what the worst bits of parenthood are; repeating the small things that drive you insane over and over and over.

6. Packed lunches. You will not be surprised to hear that this too, I have mentioned before. More than once. It goes like this: you never remember you have to provide the packed lunch. You either have no bread, or nothing to put in the bread. Sometimes you have neither. You fight with stone cold butter and lack of imagination. You cram it all together. It comes back wholly uneaten, but thoroughly messed around with, so crumbs, yoghurt, old pieces of ham, banana and jelly are all mixed to an appealing slurry-like texture. You must then clean the mess out and like Sisyphus, start again. It would be quicker, cleaner and equally nutritious to fill the lunch box with stones. I might do it next time.


I could go on, but I'd much rather you did it for me...

35 comments:

Helena said...

Argh! Lunchboxes!
When I was at school my Mum used to put a piece of cheese wrapped in clingfilm in my lunchbox. It was always sweaty and horrible by lunchtime and I hated it.
But I ate it because she told me that she could see through the holes in the school gym wall when she looked down her microscope at work (she was a pathologist).
I believed her, because I was small and supid and I'm still angry about it now.

redfox said...

Oh, yes, post lunch sludge is so vile.

A related issue that puzzles me is why some people feel that photos of children with food smushed on their hands and faces are adorable. Children themselves are in fact frequently adorable, and I recognize that they also frequently are in a position to get mushed-up food on their persons, but I cannot feel that these moments are ones that should be preserved, shared, lingered upon. Surely the sticky squashed food times should be passed over as quickly as humanly possible, so that one can appreciate the charms of the clean, silky child. No?

katyboo1 said...

Oh yes. The repetitive tedium. That is what kills me, every single time. How can the same human beings be so utterly boringly stupid and yet so isanely clever and lovely simultaneously? It does my head right in.

I hate the constant questions. Not so much new and interesting ones but the repetitious ones. The 'can we have juice?' question they ask fourteen times on the way home from school and then eighteen times between putting your key in the front door and moving through to the kitchen, even though you have already answered them. GAH.

And the mess. It's not the regular mess I mind so much as the fact that they wipe greasy fingers on chair covers and use their elbows to deposit bogeys. That kind of mess.

I shall have to go now or I will hijack the blog.

pinklea said...

DD is 21 now, but I also hated providing her packed lunches - and actually, the regularity of her food requests annoyed me tremendously at the time. I also dreaded having to chat with other parents at birthday parties or pickup/ dropoff for school (antisocial creature that I apparently am). I mean, we are here simply because our children are in the same class/ activity, not because we are best friends, so quit asking me intrusive questions and telling me about your sex life! Don't miss those days at all, not one little bit!

justme said...

I will not comment on this post, because you would hate me! But then I had my caby much later, and at 26 could no, no, NO not have coped.
On a separate topic.....are you sure twitter is good for you???????
Cos I know 'everyone' is doing it now.......but....
Sorry
Just saying

Provincial Lady said...

My friend is phobic of sand (and onions, and most other foods). Guess where she works? An aquarium. She has a degree in fish related subjects.

Grit said...

the worst thing ever is what they have done to the house. fuckme it was bloodydesigner before they came along. now look at it. shit in a skip.

(i'm sorry about the swearing. i only do it when i'm here.)

Jaywalker said...

Helena - Ha! Your mother. So inspired. Ha! Damn. Am I too late to try this?

redfox - I am entirely with you. I am not appealing when encrusted in food. Nor is anyone else that I know of, including small children however sweet.

katyboo - yes; you may continue. I don't mind.

pinklea - god, at least people talked to you. They think I'm an alien I think.

Justme - you had a "caby"! Is that a baby capybara? also oooh explain. Why is twitter bad for me? Because it reveals how truly mindless and dull I in fact am? More opportunities for time wasting? Yes and yes!

Provincial lady - goodness. I hope they don't make her do anything in the shallow seashore parts. Poor thing!

Jaywalker said...

Grit - I'm always relieved when you swear. My children are into "bugger" right now, due to my excessive use of it to Oscar, viz. "you little bugger wait til I catch you".

I was too young to know better, house wise. I had mainly lived in fetid pits, so this one is much like all the others.

Kate said...

we disagree constantly about everything. are brownies okay for breakfast? is lord of the rings an appropriate movie for a 2 year old? you name it, we fight about it.

Z said...

You think socks are bad - be glad you didn't have a girl child. Baby tights are altogether worse than any sock.

It's the repetition of everything that gets me. I have favourite books, but I don't want to read them 25 times a day, or watch the same DVD over and over, unlike small children.

And the competitiveness - you buy them each a present and they both want the same thing, so they're never pleased with what they actually have for more than two seconds.

I had two school-age children by the time I was 26. I was the youngest in the family so I didn't know about the messiness of it all.

Liberty London Girl said...

Natasha McElhone, who is obviously Not In A Good Way, poor, poor woman, gave an interview to The Funday Times yesterday where, when asked, 'What do I like about the weekend?' replied 'No lunchboxes.'

Personally I don't know how my mother coped. I used to leave mine mouldering uneaten under my bed for months. God I was a horror LLGxx

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/celebrity/article5675328.ece

Iheartfashion said...

Packed lunches are the bane of my existence! And all the more difficult with a son who has Type 1 diabetes and must count and calculate every bite of carbohydrate he eats for his insulin dose. So I not only have to pack the lunch every day, but tally it all up and write a note with it for the school nurse.
Then I have a 7-year old daughter who is incapable of eating when there is anything disgusting going on in the room, which is all the time in school. Chewing gape-mouthed, nose picking, odd food combinations: all cause her to lose her appetite, so her lunch comes home uneaten but mangled beyond recognition most days.
And don't even get me started on public pools...

River said...

I remember packing wholesome nutritious sandwiches for my tribe and finding them thrown in the far corner of the yard for the dog to eat. Had to remind them if they were going to do that at least to take the plastic wrap off first.

The Recessionista said...

Like you, I never thought I would have children but also had my first at 26. Now 4 kids and 20 years later, with my youngest being 8, I find I have been making pack lunch since the eldest started school at 4, ie when I was 30 and my little man will be at school (hopefully) for another 10 years so I will have been making pack up for a total of 26 years! In fact I could well be dead by then and he would have to have school dinners! the 16 and 17 year olds frequently do a LLG and deposit their leftovers under the bed - I often find a green furry offering just waiting for Mr Mouse to come and find it. The other thing they always leave are the bloody Actimel! These aren't cheap (I keep telling them - do they give a shit - No!)but I like to think I am keeping their tummys full of friendly bacteria. I live near the beach so the idea of pebbles for pack up tomorrow sounds good to me, I may have to go for a walk later......

Wife in Hong Kong said...

Dear Belgian Waffle - love your list! I could add and add..... Never thought I'd be a mother, of four. Think stones in the lunchbox a good ruse. Or else simply put in the bread crumbs you know will be there by the afternoon.

Juci said...

The weight. (He is 10 months and about as many kilos.) The entropy. (He can cover a surface area of cca. 40 square metres in assorted toys, distributed evenly, in about 90 seconds.) The shit. (And because I am masochistic, I use washable nappies.)
I know, the hard part hasn't even begun.

LadyFi said...

Hilarious! Rolling on the floor gaiety!

I hear you about the sand - my god! the house is filled with the darn stuff - plus half a ton of gravel, mud, and snow... depending on the time of year.

We don't do lunchboxes in Sweden, they get proper lunch at school and kindergarten. Thank goodness!

justme said...

Ahem! Sorry about that. No caby, though sounds quite interesting, just a very easy baby who ate everything he was given and smiled all the time. And I quite enjoyed the lunch box making, but I am weird like that.
The twitter.....I just fear that it may be totally addicive. Blogs are bad enough for time wasting (not that I actually count it as a waste) but I think if I was on tritter I may become obsessed. Bad enough that I update my Facebook profile 4 times a day! I am resisting twitter.....
But maybe you are NOT so obsessive and can control yourself!

Pochyemu said...

This is the kind of mother I will strive to be:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvQKHGsQpl4

She then went on to say that if she didn't have a host of nannies to raise her son for her, she would just 'doi (die, in Essexian). I would just DOI...well no, oi wouldn't doi, oi'd just get anuvver one.'

Mickle in NZ said...

There is always the hope a sproglet becomes obsessed with one food. No school lunches here in NZ so my Mum always had to make us each a packed lunch (we were never, ever allowed the privilege of buying our lunch via order from school to the local cake shop)

At seven I was obsessed with Paddington Bear and would only eat marmalade sandwiches. This went on for over a year.

The folks used their homemade lemon and grapefruit marmalade on my lunches. Now days I can't stand the stuff. Or the pineapple fruit cake Mum made weekly for years (neither can my sister).

making a packed lunch - I now do so for myself can choose what ever I want - money willing. Is only me and the cat to feed on a daily basis.

Word Verification = a very apt "unfeire"

You are allowed to yell this out!!!

Zed said...

Yep, sums up my list nicely too. I gave up making pack-lunches for Todd when he reached the age of 10. He never ate what I gave him so told him to do his own.

I still have to repeat things on a daily basis to Todd - the girls are far better-behaved, but the shrieking - gah, the slamming of doors - my house, the temper tantrums - again?

But over the past few years the girls have started bringing me up and it's hell. I can't swear, touch a drop of alcohol before 6pm, get drunk, have friends round for a noisy evening - I tell you, what goes round, comes round.

You've been warned.

Belle said...

I can't imagine what it must be like to have a pathologist for a mother.
Ketchup - I agree - could there be anything more vile?
There is that squeezy-yellowy mustard-stuff...

Completely Alienne said...

I agree with most of these and would raise you watching the same sodding video time and time again - I can't bear the Jungle Book nowadays - or reading the same book over and over again.

On a totally different subject - Jaywalker have you been writing to Mrs Mills at the Sunday Times under a pseudonym? Cos today I read the following:-

PET’S CORNER
My boyfriend won’t let me buy a pygmy hippo. What should I do?
CH, by e-mail

Increase your repertoire of exciting sexual techniques. Then get a bigger bath and try him again.

Jaywalker said...

Kate - this is what comes of having a 'thing' for French men. Constant, wearing conflict. Mais oui, c'est si romantique.

Z - ok, tights sound worse. I hate my own plenty..

LLG - I fear this is still to come. Hundreds of old cups of tea in varying states of decomposition. It's their birthright.


Iheart - oh no. That's so awful. At least if they eat nothing I can be totally indifferent.

River - that made me laugh. We used to dump it all in the school bin when we got slightly bigger and more devious.

Recessionista - sodding Actimel. Danone owns me. Strawberry especially, goes nicely in the ham/banana/crumb sludge.

Wife in HK - Imagine the righteous outrage. It would make my day.

Juci - If you ask me, that's the worst bit. It does get better because of the miracle of speech, I promise. Honest. (Washable nappies - respect, respect respect. You should get the freedom of the City of Brussels or similar).

LadyFi - I force mine to have school dinners too (they hate it) but school has this habit of springing wildcat no canteen days on us - hence unpreparedness and general chaos, lunches composed of corner shop chocolate bars and crisps.

Justme - I am at least as obsessive, but I pour most of it in here. Twitter is teaching me more than I ever wanted about British sport thanks to Fourstar.

Jaywalker said...

Pochyemu - baby named after Bluewater. Magnificent.

Mickle - I had exactly the same packed lunch - that I made myself - for about seven years. Here's hoping..

Zed - I can quite imagine. How is Hermann?

Belle - thank god they don't like mayonnaise or vinegar or I would have abandoned them on the nearest church porch.

CA - no, it isn't me but it totally should be.

K said...

I don't really mind ketch up, but I hate mustard. That stuff totaly grosses me out.

I never thought I'd ever be a SAHM. Never ever, ever. But I love it (most of the time).

Lisa said...

The worst thing now that mine of getting on in years - not enough, mind you - is the sibling crap. Garbo wants to be left alone in my bedroom with a box of crumbling crackers and the flat screen television. The Actor would kill for someone to play with. The Dancer is always trying to escape, but first must mug me for cash or debit card. Mixing them together will most assuredly provide lots of hilarity that leaves me curled up in the fetal position with my fingers plugging my ears.

Mr Farty said...

Ketchup? I must have been in my teens before we saw that on the kitchen table - mother declared that it was common, and who were we to disagree? Now I love it.

Repetition? Even now, I could act out all the parts from Karate Kid blindfolded from memory.
Unfortunately that video was accidentally destroyed when it fell into a volcanic vent.

ptooie said...

Shoot. My kids aren't even in school yet, but I have to pack the husband's lunch most nights. I fear for my children, that they might get his repetitiveness even after they've outgrown the current read the book a zillion times nonsense. Husband has the same lunch, 4 nights a week, 49 weeks a year. I'm sick of making it (though I can just about do it blindfolded), can't believe he isn't sick of eating it.

Juci said...

How could I forget this one?
So the baby's ten months old, and he still spits up frequently. And because he moves around a lot now and I can't watch him every second, he leaves nasty little surprises all over the living/dinig room floor in various colours, depending on his food obviously. (The colour coding continues on into the nappies, say, orange in the morning for his lunch - pumpkins - the previous day, then green in the afternoon for his dinner - broccoli. And I haven't mentioned the little black seeds from the kiwi. This phenomenon really puts me off fruit and veg.)
TMI, sorry.

Jaywalker said...

K - bleugh. Only CFO eats that stuff.

Lisa - yeah, I can imagine this. The answer is wine.

Mr F - WHY must I be the kind of parent that lets its children have everything they damn well wish? Big big mistake.


Ptooie - are you not tempted to shock him with some novelty item?

Juci - The incredible vomiting baby! Yick. Nasty indeed.

3limes said...

Oh that is so funny! I want to add to your near perfect list the following:
1.Mushy food. Ugh.
2.Vomit. And it is ALWAYS me that cleans it up.
3.Pre-teen hormonal, no idea why or what to do TEARS. It is very sad and you know they will pass but they don't because it is the worst thing in the world EVER!

Jaywalker said...

3limes - oh no. Will look forward to this one with trepidation, given the constant death panic from Lashes already.

Mushy food - what, like baby food? Yick. Disgusting. Especially meat flavour. FOUL.

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