If you have read Part 1 of this blog, you’ll already be aware of the very insightful (and obviously greatly researched) guide to looking after a pet human; letters A to M. I’d like to say that reading the first half of the blog is imperative to understanding the second half, but I’m writing this whilst periodically trying to out-meme my best friend Micky with pictures of Trump, Grumpy cat (R.I.P.) and processed meats that look like penises…so you get an idea of the intellectual level of what is to follow. Think of this like Deadpool 2, but with less gimp masks and no one getting shafted by a tin man.
N is for Never Again
On numerous occasions throughout your life, you will find yourself muttering the words never again! Never again will I forget that swim nappies don’t hold wee or think that it’s a good idea to bounce a baby above my head soon after lunch. These ‘never again’ moments are all part of the learning process and although you say never again, it only takes a momentary lapse in concentration to forget that the toddler you’ve just sat on your shoulders has been overdue a poo for the last three days. Many of these moments are common and widespread amongst parents, and if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid them so far, here are some pointers to keep you on the straight and narrow:
- Never leave a toddler alone with anything that can be used as paint – this includes, sudocrem, marmite, expensive makeup, the contents of their nappy, and paint.
- Try to avoid having glitter and a toddler in the same room together. Don’t get me wrong, I love glitter! But as my friend Tim says, it is the gonorrhoea of the arts & crafts world – it gets everywhere! And I mean everywhere….for days afterwards. You know what they say: you can’t polish a turd….but you can roll it in glitter!
- Before letting your toddler paint your face, make sure the paint you are using is in fact washable, otherwise you end up going to work looking like Freddie Mercury has bumped uglies with a smurf
- When potty training, check dark corners for presents. This includes behind curtains, in the cat litter tray in your best saucepan draw.
- When moaning about someone in the comfort of your own car, check that you are indeed alone. It turns out that if you grumble about the Grumpy Old Man that you’re picking a fridge up from whilst your toddler is in the car, then your toddler will stand in front of you upon arrival and point whilst loudly shouting “mummy, is this the grumpy old man you were talking about?”.
- Be aware that if you leave your child in the hands of a grandparent, friend, or anyone who has the luxury of giving them back at the end of the day, they will come back hyped up on sugar, caffeine and e-numbers, and will resemble the Tasmanian Devil on speed.
- And finally, from Matt Coyne (man vs baby): Never challenge a toddler to a farting contest. Someone will end up sh*tting themselves.
O is for Old
It doesn’t matter if you are 23 with the seemly never-aging youthfulness of Ant & Dec (who could still play their old characters PJ & Duncan from 1992 if Biker Grove ever made a comeback), having a child will age you like Brexit has aged Theresa May. One day you are sipping Snakebite & Black at a pound a pint, the next you are swigging calpol from the bottle with an espresso chaser because after several days of having a small human sneeze into your eyeballs, you have finally caught their lurgy and can’t face dragging a tantruming 2 year old to the shops to gets some ibuprofen….or maybe some gin. This aging process doesn’t come all at once, it sneaks up on you like a bad hangover….you can wake up in the morning knowing that you overdid it, but feel surprising alright, fooling yourself into a false sense of security, until 3pm rolls around then BHAM! The difference is, you can ride out a hangover, and after a grim 24 hours, the world goes back to normal. You can’t, on the other hand, escape the aging process of parenting. You might be reading this and thinking “nah, not me, I’m still the same person I was pre child”. Really? Here are some telltale signs that you are, in fact, OLD!
- You have started listening to audiobooks. Time to oneself is a rarity as a parent, and the precious little time that we do get is less likely to be spent with your head in a good novel and more likely on the essential luxuries, like taking a sh*t without a small human trying to hug your knees or ask “what you doing?”. Therefore, audiobooks are a great idea. A word of warning though: if you run whilst listening to humorous books, you do so at the risk of looking like you’ve escaped from the loony bin. There’s nothing that quite says “nutcase” as a runner sneaking up from behind you then laughing loudly and uncontrollably as they pass.
- People tell you that you look “tired”. This is polite English code for “you look like a bag of elephant sh*t”. The real kicker is that sometimes you won’t be tired at all and actually you think that you look/feel quite alright on that particular day. But, alas, the massive bags under your eyes are like Lycra bikini bottoms that have been eaten by chlorine and lost their elasticity – no amount of Oil Of Olay or haemorrhoid cream is gonna spring them back into shape.
- You develop more of a “f*ck it” attitude. You have to – it’s essential to survival. Who cares if the washing up isn’t done until the evening or if your little one’s fancy dress costume isn’t homemade but instead bought from Asda at 1am because you forgot that it was “knights & princesses” day at nursery. There is so much to do in life, balancing work, cooking, cleaning etc with looking after a small dependant human with no social boundaries, no fear and an attraction to things that could potentially kill them, that if sometimes you didn’t prioritise and say “f*ck it” then something would eventually give, and it’s likely to be your sanity.
- You watch the TV with subtitles on. This may start as a necessity to be able to understand the news headlines whilst you have paw patrol in one ear and a very noisy fire engine that grandpa just happened to pick up at a car boot, in the other. However, you will become accustomed to them and without realising it will no longer be able to watch Bake Off without them on.
P is for Poor
Pet humans are expensive. You’ll go from dreaming about owning a Ferrari to thinking that the sexiest part of 50 shades is when she gets a job as a journalist without hundreds of hours of unpaid work. On the plus side, your bank account will be a constant reminder that you are safe from identity theft. It is averaged that the cost of bringing up a child, including putting them through university and the associated costs, can be up to £250,000! That’s a quarter of a million!! To put it into perspective, here are some things you could do with £250,000:
- Buy a 3 bed house in Nottingham (or a broom cupboard in London)
- Own an quarter of a desert island in Nicaragua
- Build a waterslide inside your house (warning: you will get wet)
- Go to space
- Buy a snow machine and every year give a new city a white Christmas
- Put an ATM in your kitchen
- Build a luxury underground panic room (But it’ll be more like a panic condo. You know, for apocalypses, hostage situations, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and hide and seek)
- Buy 250,000 penny sweets
- Buy the domain name “cunnyfunt.com”
Q if for Quiet
Silence is golden….unless you have a toddler, then it’s just suspicious
If you are the owner of a pet human, this concept may be unfamiliar to you. “Quiet” was the thing you used to have where you could sit in the garden on a summer’s day, close your eyes and hear things like birds, bees and your own thoughts without wanting to stab someone in the eye with an Ikea pencil. When “quiet” existed, you could say nothing and there would be no noise because nothing was being said. But just like the dinosaurs, “quiet” became extinct when the Toddler evolved and replaced the sound of the birds & bees with battery operated fire engines and creepy VTech toys that turn themselves on in the middle of the night. Now when you close your eyes you can just about hear the remains of your sanity escaping to a happy place and giving you the middle finger on the way out the door. You know that saying “If a tree falls in the wood but no one is around, does it really make a noise?” …well having a pet human has unequivocally proven that yes, yes it does, it makes a really frickin loud noise, because it doesn’t matter if you’re not in the same room, the same house or the same frickin county, if you serve their orange juice in the spiderman cup instead of the PJ Masks cup, you are going to know about it.
R is for Retrospect
Sometimes things work. sometimes they don’t. That’s life. The important thing is not to beat yourself up about what was or what could have been. It’s likely that even if it matters to you, it probably won’t matter to your child, and it almost certainly won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I learnt the other day that my school were having a reunion. I contacted a couple of the people that I still stay in touch with to see if they were thinking of attending. It would be interesting to have a nosy around my old digs, but I didn’t want to go if I didn’t know anyone, and it’s not like I could organise a group chat of all the people in our year group, on account of me being the least popular person in that year. I tried way too hard in school, at the detriment of making friends, and if I could go back now I would tone TF down – still concentrate on my studies, but spend less time brown-nosing and more time socialising. I got chatting over Facebook with one of the few people I was still in touch with – in school she was hard as nails and I respected her no end, if not a little fearful of her. It was interesting, because what she said next was something I’d never have expected. She wished she had been more like me. Me?! You mean, a lonely, slightly chubby, boffin with zero fashion sense, braces, a crap haircut and no friends? Yeah, right. She explained that she wished she’d been more academic and that she tried so hard to fit in at school that it was to the detriment of her studies. It’s funny that what we beat ourselves up about at the time, actually may be perceived completely differently by people around us. As it turns out, she now has a very fulfilling career as a nurse and I am surrounded by fabulous friends, so maybe it is true that everything works out in the end, or at least everything happens for a reason. So the next time things don’t go exactly how you wanted them to, take some advice from 90s rock band Oasis; don’t look back in anger, at least not today.
S is for Support
One of the things that will get you through parenthood is support from friends and family, all the way from preconception to bundling them off to Uni and beyond. For example, fertility is a sensitive subject and lots of people aren’t sure how to respond to bad news through fear of offending or saying the wrong thing. What I love about my close friends – Jane, Jo & Micky is that instead of the sympathetic head tilt, put-on sad faces and optimistic cliches, they usually respond with a mixture of sarcasm, innuendos, penis jokes, hugs, booze and the acceptance that it is just a bit sh*t. They humanise the whole thing. When the second lot of fertility drugs I was on failed, Micky’s response was “f*ck it mate, you’ll just have to start advertising in the housing ads of the local newspaper; entitle it “Womb For Rent” or “Rent-a-Womb”, to which I replied “Living Womb needed” or “Womb For Two” might work. We then spent the next half hour coming up with womb puns (interspersed with cat memes) my favourites being “No Womb At The Inn”, “Womb To Grow”, “Get A Womb” and “Womb for Improvement”. By the end, I felt less stressed out over the whole situation and like I could fight another round of hormone f*ckwittery.
T is for Truce
As humans, sometimes we argue – it’s natural. If we all had the same opinion all the time, it wouldn’t be an opinion at all, it would just be the way. To paraphrase the legend that was Charlie Chaplin: we are not machines, we are not cattle, we are human we have the power to make this life free and beautiful; to make this life a wonderful adventure. But one thing I remember my mum instilling in us as kids is to never let the sunset on your anger. We were never allowed to go to bed angry, but instead say our sorrys, hug and call a truce. This has stayed with me ever since, and I still believe it now. It’s not necessarily about who is right and who is wrong – sometimes it might simply be to agree to disagree. The bottom line is that life’s too short for holding on to grudges.
U is for Unrealistic
We all have expectations; of parenthood, of life, of ourselves. It will come to light, at some point or other, that at least some of these expectations are unrealistic. We then face a decision: adjust our expectations or increase the pressure on ourselves to fulfill them, despite their seemingly impossible nature. When I was pregnant, I expected to return to both work and my pre-baby physical state within weeks of having Joshua. I envisioned my life as being no different, bar the addition of a small human that I could carry around with me like one of those tiny expensive handbag dogs. I was wrong. Oh how I was wrong. For a while I clung onto these expectations, desperately trying to reach these unattainable goals that I saw in glossy magazines and #SoBlessed celebrity instagram posts, and making myself miserable in the process. It wasn’t until I realised that I was trying to hit a pinball into Tiger Wood’s arse crack 500 yards away using a limp banana, that I started to readjust my thinking. Sometimes the goal is not impossible, you just need to move the goalposts a bit to be able to score. And use the appropriate tools (no one likes a limp banana).
V is for Voracious
Voracious has two meanings, the first of which is to engage in an activity with great eagerness or enthusiasm. This is the definition of a toddler in one sentence. Due to the fact that they have (in relative terms) spent very little time on this earth, everything is exciting to a toddler and they take to life like a puppy dog on crack. If you’ve ever seen the film “Up” then you’ll be aware of the affect a squirrel can have on a dog. One minute they are planning to take over the world, the next mi….SQUIRREL! This is the effect that the world has on a toddler. Sometimes this is adorable and heart warming, like how a simple walk to the shops can be an adventure with countless new flowers and trees to see, birds, bees, butterflies and clouds that look like choo choo trains. But sometimes this can be a frickin nightmare, like how a simple walk to the shops can be an adventure with you having to stop them poking every piece of litter, chewed gum and dog crap they find on the way then having to pick them up rugby ball style under one one arm, kicking and screaming, because the post office closes in 5 minutes and you wouldn’t let them take home the squished hedgehog with its anus hanging out its mouth because maybe it was only “sleeping”.
The second meaning of Voracious is wanting or devouring great quantities of food. This, too, is a very accurate description of a toddler. Joshua is a human garbage disposal – I’ve never seen such a small creature hoover up so much food. But here’s the catch….it’s only when HE wants to. A toddler changes their mind as quick and as often as Game of Thrones kills off their characters. One day Joshua will LOVE peas and will ask for thirds. Another day, if he finds a single pea in his omelette, he will declare the whole thing inedible and wave his hand for you to take it away like you’ve just served up Boris Johnson’s testicles in a light red wine jus.
W is for WTF
Ever do that thing where you go into a room and think “what am I doing”? Well that’s what parenting a toddler is like…but with more expletive initialisms, and instead of a room it’s just your life. I used to be cool and do things. Well, no, that’s a lie, I’ve never been cool. But I did used to do things…like go to the theatre and art galleries, and the toilet with the door closed. Now I just argue with a miniature version of myself about eating vegetables. And this emotionally unstable pint sized dictator that I am now responsible for (who indecently takes 35 minutes to put on shoes but can open 3 apps, delete itunes, and call my mother in law in less than 17 seconds) has an uncanny ability to know exactly how far to push me towards utter insanity before reverting back to a lovable cuddle monster. It’s no wonder that sometimes we ask ourselves WTF am I doing?! But in these situations, we just have to step back and take a deep breath before reentering the room. Or if that doesn’t work, go back downstairs, because then you always remember what you went upstairs for in the first place.
WTF also stands for the World Taekwondo Federation, who, as far I know, remain blissfully unaware of the other meaning of WTF. Or maybe they just don’t feel like a changing it. One of those “we were here first” situations I suppose.
X is for X-Men
Because a baby’s nails resemble the claws of Wolverine. And because nothing else baby-related, or even social acceptable, starts with the letter X – most words beginning with X are either scientific biological terms or adjectives for hating foreigners. X-Men is also quite fitting as a toddler is more akin to a superhero than we often give them credit for: they have no fear, are virtually indestructible (as long as you don’t overtly acknowledge their injury), and they’re not bothered about being seen in public with the fashion sense of Lady GaGa.
Y is for yes
It is important to set boundaries for your pet humans; implement rules and enforce consequences for breaking said rules, otherwise they run the risk of turning out like the spawn of Lindsay Lohan and Macaulay Culkin. However, with that said, sometimes you have to pick your battles, weigh up the possible outcomes of the argument and contributing factors such as how much time you have, how sleep deprived both parties are, how messy the outcome is going to be, and is someone going to end up in A&E and/or covered in sh*t. Sometimes you have to forgo the battle to stay sane enough to keep fighting the war, and just say yes.
Z is for Zoo
Because this is what your house will look and smell like when looking after a toddler. You know when you visit a zoo and you see monkeys defecate in their own hand then throw it at each other. This is pretty much what toilet training is like. Even when they are out of the crapping behind the curtain stage of life, general housework doesn’t get any easier, especially when they insist on “helping”; folding laundry with a 2-year old is like trying to straighten a desk full of paperwork while a fan blows on it. Thinking about it, living with a toddler is a lot like living in a student house – nobody sleeps, everything is broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.
That completes the second half of our “A-Z guide to looking after a pet human”. I hope it has been helpful, or has at least put a smile on your face, because when it comes down to it, we only have one life, you might as well smile whilst you still have teeth.