Friday 20 April 2018

It's either me or him

Viewed from a distance, family life looks as good as it does on Instagram. However, viewed up close, one must remember what Sophie White calls the Monet Rule

Cashew nuts
Cashew nuts
Sophie White

We are going on our very first family holiday tomorrow and I am bursting with excitement. This is because I haven't been thinking in too much detail about what the coming week holds. Currently, in my mind, the holiday is like an Impressionist painting - when observed from a distance with slightly unfocused eyes, it looks beautiful. However, in sharp focus, from close up, it's a bit of a mess. But that's pretty much parenthood in general.

The Monet Rule can be applied to lots of activities attempted by parents. For example, one might expect a trip to the beach for a family ice-cream to be a pleasant experience, but in reality, there's sunblock in Yer Man's eyes and the ice cream is too cold and too covered in sand for him to enjoy.

You try to do a nice thing as a parent, but inevitably, you will be thwarted by the very ones you are trying to please. The children.

Every time I think of the holiday, I smile in anticipation of introducing Yer Man to swimming in the sea. However, I am not taking into consideration the attendant 'thrashing and saltwater in the eye scenario', an incident so likely to happen, it is basically a foregone conclusion.

I haven't even had the nerve to apply the Monet Rule to the plane journey, but I'm pretty sure it'll be horrendous.

Whenever I tell other parents of my acquaintance that we're going on holiday, their first question is not, "Where are you going?", it's: "How long is the flight?" This question is gasped out with an imperative of such urgency that I have become quite terrified of what lies in store for me tomorrow.

Sure, I've witnessed parents and kids on planes before and I know the subtle-but-snide shock waves of judgment that invariably ripple forth through passengers and cabin-crew members, a storm of intense irritation with the parents and kids at its epicentre.

Before, I would never join in with the muttering - "Would they not control that child?" or "This is what's wrong with kids these days, no discipline". I was too busy luxuriating in the profound relief that it was not my problem. Before, you couldn't pay me to be these people.

But now, tomorrow, I am joining their club in exchange for a bit of sun and an Airbnb overlooking the ocean. It remains to be seen whether this will be worth it.

I needed a plan of action for the plane journey - two-and-a-half hours by the way - so, to get some ideas, I did a little survey of mothers I know.

Is it just me, or does everyone have a parent they use as a barometer for parenting decisions? Someone who has a similar set of parenting values, but who is perhaps a shade less lazy than you are. Someone realistic to aspire to.

My Parent Barometer or PB is a great mother and, to my mind, infinitely more responsible than me. So, when she floated the idea of Dozol - a children's pain relief, notorious for its sleep-inducing properties - for the plane, I was amazed. She's suggesting that I essentially drug my child. Apparently, everyone is at it.

If a parenting practice is giving me pause, then it usually has to be pretty bad, and I think drugging children is one to draw the line at.

But her suggestion did get me thinking that it was unlikely that we would survive this plane ride without a little narcotic intervention, so I have procured a Valium to be placed, cyanide-like, under the tongue in the event of emergency/tantrum. One of us needs to be sedated and I'd rather it be me than him.

Obviously, in the interest of safety and parental responsibility, I won't be sharing my Valium with Himself - somebody needs to be sober to make sure we actually make it to our destination.

It's a personal Valium that I won't be telling anyone about. For the baby, I'll be making these chewy choccie bars to appease him and to have on hand should the Valium give me the munchies.

Chewy Cashew and Date Bars

Makes 12 bars.

You will need:

12 pitted dates

150g (5oz) cashew nuts

6 tablespoons raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

2 tablespoons runny honey

5 tablespoons coconut oil

Place the pitted dates, the cashew nuts, the raw cacao powder or cocoa powder, whichever you're using, the runny honey and the coconut oil into a food processor and blend for about five minutes until the mixture is completely smooth.

Line a 20cm (8in) square container with baking paper, and press the blended date mixture in firmly. The mix will be quite greasy, but it will firm up after setting in the fridge for a few hours. When it has set, cut it into 12 bars and store in the fridge.

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