Lately, I’ve been thinking about some things I used to do before Becoming a Parent™. I was first instructed to apply myself to this task by members of The Chorus of Doom during my pregnancy. Grave warnings were issued about how life would never be the same, and sacrifices would inevitably be made. True. I can’t say I enjoy the same relentless self-obsessing without interruption these days, but nor do I miss having to explain what I’m doing with my life. Others assume an explanation since our one arrived. The relief. I have parenting to fall back on while I figure it out; usually in a state of high anxiety over whether I should be world dictator on a full or part-time basis. Lean in *glances furtively around* can I excuse myself from this one? I’d rather chew my own elbows off than endure another meeting where everyone talks in their weird telephone voice, and gesticulates in ways that interferes with their own peripheral vision.
Nowadays, the aforementioned parentatti can be heard cheerfully reminding rookies what’s “all ahead” of them in that self-satisfied tone that suggests it never occurred to the naïve couple that their midget drunk will grow up and demand more things to meet their ever expanding basic needs. Seriously? Did you hear that, Dad? (yes, I’ve been known to call my fella that – it’s all ahead of you). Well, if I’d known. One day they might even use the expression ‘Jesus Christ!’ in a situation appropriate way. Like when they can’t get their own pants down while clamouring on to the potty. And this is something to worry about apparently. Pass me the manual. It says here it won’t last forever. Did you hear that, Dad? How do you fancy pulling an all-nighter first Friday in 2028?
‘Before’ is a broad term however. And for me, it increasingly has less to do with getting up off a chair unaided, or watching just one more episode of a box-set at three in the morning (hey, I’ve lived) than jumping off piers. That’s right. I’ve regressed for the umpteenth time in my parenthood. It was a relief to know I can still revert to ten-year old behaviour round the family Christmas Dinner table, and remain suspicious of adults talking to me like I’m one of them. But this is unprecedented. I haven’t leaped off a pier since my teens.
Quick! the parentatti are coming
Not only do I want to sprint down one and fling myself knees-up overboard, I want to travel there by bike and abandon that bike on a mountain of others. I want to lay flat a digital watch on the ledge before leaping. And forget to bring a towel. Then I want us all to commandeer the road back home in a bird flight formation.
Really, I just want to live retro in a day directed by Steven Spielberg. Where walkie talkies are the height of sophisticated telecommunications, the encyclopaedia is our Google of the day, and there’s a soundtrack for when things get really exciting or tense. I’d like some ominous sounding synths as I approach my Boss’s office. And I wouldn’t half mind getting drunk by proxy through a two-foot creature waddling around our kitchen helping itself to beers from the fridge. I’ve heard that’s all ahead of us anyway. Jane said it happened with all hers but not to worry, it was just a phase.