Parenthood - only the strongest will survive

R is for rascals. Children are scamps. You were one too. Don't encourage them to be wallflowers

SHEA TOMKINS

Published 16/08/2011 | 13:17

LAST WEEKEND, I caught up with two old friends that I frequently shot the breeze with during the late '90s. We reminisced on times long past and laughed about how different we were back in the college days: a time when we didn't have a tiny pair of pitter-pattering feet to our names.

We also spent a while discussing parenting, as most people new to the business do. It started me thinking about how similar all humans are, when it's all boiled down. If you strip away the man-made distractions, it appears that we were put on this planet with one main function - to procreate. The following is an A to Z of parenting, from someone still using the ropes to steer himself along.

A: is for attitude. From the moment they take their first breath, the attitude evolves. Right now, broccoli is getting a going over in our house.

Ask the young lad if he likes Thomas the Tank Engine and he'll scowl at you like you have insulted his intelligence. Not so long ago, he worshipped at the Tidmouth Sheds altar; now you will spot him knocking on the Death Star door.

B: is for baw-baw. A bottle is the most important tridaily event of a toddler's life. The younger lad resembles an in-full-flight Michael Flatley, when he locks eyes on a baw baw from across the room.

C: is for company. Wherever you go, infants will either follow, or yell for you to get back. You will soon come to terms with leaving the bathroom door open, when doing your business. Otherwise it will be kicked, or rammed, in.

D: is for discipline. As much as you try not to copy that vicious teacher with the wagging figure that scarred your own childhood, it will happen. The index finger will rise and you will find yourself going 'ah-ahah' many times a day. You know it's not really having the desired effect, when they start doing it back to you.

E: is for energy. Every adult must have it or you can forget all about bringing up kids. Stock that cupboard with Beroccas, or prepare to fail. E is also for ear plugs.

F: is for flatulence. Kids get great entertainment out of it, once they discover that they can produce it. With some adults, the novelty never wears off.

G: is for grip. I have lost more chest hair in the past six months than in the previous 10 years. Gnashing at the shoulder blade tends to hurt too.

I: is for imagination. The other night the young lad refused to sleep in his own bed, as he claimed that there was an army of ants marching about. After checking it out, he saw there were none. Then he said he had taken the batteries out of the rats, but that they might come back. In the end I picked him up and threw him into our bed. He was asleep in seconds. Kids know how to get what they want.

J: is for jumping. You wait so long for them to be able to do it, teaching them how, and clapping like daft ones to encourage them. Eventually, when they get the hang of it, they jump off every raised surface they can find. Then you spend your time yelling at them not to, and wonder why you bothered in the first place.

K: is for kisses. There is nothing sweeter, than when he comes over and pecks you on the cheek before wobbling off to bed - priceless.

L: is for light. Do you remember that light-as-a-feather newborn perched on your arm, almost defying gravity? That's not how they stay. Year by year they stretch until soon you, and your good woman, develop arms like Keith Duffy. It saves you having to do weights, though you might find your muscles unbalanced.

M: is for the mother-in-law. What both adults need in the name of sanity. Mother-in-laws are invaluable to parents and more often than not, they are only way you are going to get out that door to recharge your batteries - without having to pay for it.

N: is for nuts. Young parents do go crazy from time to time, roughly about once a week. Don't think you are alone, however. Those next door are more than likely hitching a ride on the train to Looneyville with you.

O: is for old. There's no avoiding it. Having children will make you feel old, because, eh, now you are. If you want proof, challenge them to a bounce-on-the-bed competition. You will gasp first.

P: is for pet. Have a soft spot for one child over the other, and prepare for trips to the juvenile rehabilitation centre by the time they hit 12. 'But it's not fair, Johnny got a motor bike for his birthday'. 'Be quiet, and blow some bigger bubbles. There's washing up liquid under the sink when you run out.' Kids notice these things.

Q: is for quiet. In our house the hush descends at around 8.30pm, and lasts until roughly 6.30am. It means more to us than winning the lottery. Q is also for quids, something you will have far less of.

R: is for rascals. Children are scamps. You were one too. Don't encourage them to be wallflowers.

S: is for sleep. Most afternoons, you will question whether you have Mexican blood, because you crave a siesta. Ninety nine per cent of the time, you won't get one. S is also for selfish - something you can never be again.

T: is for tornado. ' This house looks like a tornado has hit it.' Homes with kids are seldom tidy. Fastidious beings need to realise that. Embrace the mess, and you embrace the child.

U: is for underpants. A word kids love to say. At least once a day, I am referred to as Underpants Head. Not by my workmates. I hope.

V: is for vanity. Little children, quite rightly, love themselves. Sometimes you have to roll with it, in the name of confidence building. Though there is a thin line between confidence and cockiness. They are usually pretty easy to tell apart.

W: is for willie. Yes, young boys, and girls, become very curious very quickly. How you explain, and name things is entirely up to you. We took the straightforward approach. He has yet to meet a person with the same name. We'll deal with that when it happens.

X: is for X-rays. Little ones have accidents. The young lad was whisked off to hospital three times before he reached his first birthday. The younger lad is simply told to get over it. Second-child complex - they might have a point.

Y: is for yo-yo. That's what we feel like, sometimes, as we go up and down the stairs, at their beck and bawl.

Z: is for zoom. The noise the young lad makes, when he's going out the gate on his bike.

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