Tag Archives: crying

A situation of panic; a breakdown of order

This morning, I was pondering a word that sums up parenthood. This was obviously in the nano-seconds that occurred between throwing porridge in the general direction of E, assembling rain coats and school bags and chasing B around the kitchen table brandishing his shoes and trying not be irritated by the fact that he clearly thought this was the best game he’d played since 4.30am this morning, when he was wide awake and trying to gouge my right eyeball out using only his forefinger and a smattering of dribble.

Fulfilling. Enlightening. Joyous. Inspiring. Affirming. Nope, none of these words sprung to mind when I considered parenthood. Once I had worked my way through a number of swearwords, one word remained: Confusion. Later, I looked up the definition of confusion (let me clarify: fatigue may have dulled my mental facilities, but I did remember what confusion meant, I just wanted help putting the words in the right order), and the first entry I came across read:

‘Lack of understanding, uncertainty. A situation of panic; a breakdown of order.’

Now, if that is not the perfect explanation of parenthood, I don’t know what is. But then I probably don’t know what is, because being a parent, I am in a perpetual state of confusion.

I find myself confused a lot. And Confusion is not just content with hanging around like a house guest that has not only over-stayed its welcome, but also seems to have unpacked its suitcase and put its toothbrush in the cup next to the sink.  Confusion makes you shrug a lot as you look at your one year old screaming and wonder quite what the hell is wrong with him, and then before even have time to scratch your chin, quickly introduces its best friend, Guesswork, who appears to have slipped in through the back door when you weren’t looking.

Perhaps my son is teething, I guess, as I look at my crying son, reaching for the Calpol. Or maybe I have given him my sore throat, I muse, shaking the Calpol bottle. Although it could be a viral thing, I shrug, but open the bottle of Calpol anyway. I suppose it could be something else entirely, I think, as he swallows a dose of the strawberry loveliness and then continues to scream anyway. Maybe it is life threatening. Should I take him to A&E? Or perhaps just a cold? Or possibly he is just bored and screaming is a good way to pass some time.

I am confused about what stage B should be at in his development. Should he be feeding himself by now, I wonder at lunchtime. Probably not, I decide (spot the advanced level of guesswork at work here). At which point he commandeers the fork from me, spears a piece of chicken and pops it in his mouth, looking at me with those ‘you really are a twat, aren’t you, mummy’ eyes.

I am confused about his needs. He points and babbles in a very determined way, but most of the time, I have not got a clue about what he is after. So confused was I yesterday by his vehement pointing, I traced the line of his finger direction like a forensic scientist tracking the path of a bullet, holding up every object in its trajectory, but he just shook his head and grunted more loudly, waggling his forefinger in the air. In the end, I offered up the fridge, a door, the light bulb and some floor fluff in a desperate attempt to find out what he really wanted. It turns out that time, he had something stuck to the tip of his finger that he needed me to remove. It looked like a bogey, but hey, I’m just guessing.

I am confused about why my four year old can be breathtakingly well behaved, offering to wash up and tidy away his toys (I did have to ask him twice to repeat that last one, so astonished was I), only to be found face down on the floor screaming about the unfairness of it all three seconds later. I rarely find out the exact cause of the meltdowns, but with a recent incident, I am guessing (there I go again) it was me and my big mouth having the audacity to say something contentious like ‘let’s take your library books back this afternoon’. I know. What a bitch.

I am confused as to why my one year old wakes up in the dead of night, then is quite happy to spend the next hour staring, wide-eyed at me through the cot bars, only screaming loud enough to peel wallpaper the moment I threaten to leave. Actually, I was confused about this. Now I am just mightily pissed off.

I am confused by my son’s questions. No, I don’t know what slugs eat. I don’t know why electricity is invisible. I am not sure he is right that there is good oxygen and bad oxygen, but then again, I am not sure. Let’s just leave it as a ‘probably’, shall we, and move onto safer ground like what we are having for dinner.

They say there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Although when I first heard this adage, I heard it as death and taxis. Which seemed a little less profound than people seemed to give it credit for but pretty realistic, as anyone who has tried to hail a black cab on a Friday night in London will contest.

However, it seems there is only one certainty in parenthood: Confusion. I checked back on the definition of this word. To clarify the aforementioned definition, the online dictionary I used gives the following example:

“The shaken survivors retreated in confusion.”

Which pretty much says everything I wanted to say about parenthood in six words. I not only rest my case, I lock it in an underground chest constructed of reinforced concrete and go and lie down in a darkened room for a while. You know, just to have a few more guesses about my children.

Momentarily distracted by Twitter

B is heading, with his wobbly gait and frequent pauses to look at something fascinating that has caught his attention on the floor, toward seventeen months. Wait. I mean nearly a year and a half. I used to get so bloody annoyed when parents would quote their toddler’s age in months. What is that all about? It’s just extra maths forced upon you, that’s what it is. And let’s face it, I don’t tell people I am five hundred and eight months old. Mind you, put it like that and it’s no bloody wonder I look so god-damn, black eye-bagged, saggy-jowled tired.

So anyway,  B is nearly a year and a half. That amazing, joy-filled age when your child really starts to gain some independence, a personality begins to blossom, they engage with the world in new ways and provide you with unalloyed delight at every turn. Hang on. Sorry, it must be the fatigue. I was momentarily possessed by the spirit of an Annabel Karmel / Super Nanny mash up. What I meant to say is that it is an age that brings a whole new level of pain, irritation and cluelessness. For both of us…


Listen mummy, it is obvious why I am crying. Any fool could work it out. Here I am, lying on the floor, face down, wailing every last atom of oxygen from my lungs. Why are you looking at me with that quizzical face? If you really loved me, you’d know what was wrong.

Oh god, he’s crying again. Why is he crying? Did he fall when I was momentarily distracted by Twitter? I didn’t hear the sound of flesh hitting floorboards. Mind you, I may have been singing loudly at the time. Is it a teething cry? A hungry cry? Can he not just bloody give me a clue? A little sign, maybe. You know, point to the thing that is making him cry? No, no…  don’t point at me…

Throwing stuff

Life has been pretty dull up to now. But then I discovered I could throw stuff, and I haven’t stopped since. There is nothing that I won’t try to throw. Yesterday, I attempted to throw a pillow. It wasn’t my finest hour, I ended up on my back being swallowed up by an aggressive item of bedding, but I gave it a go. My favourite thing of all though? Chucking stuff into water. Toilet or bath, whatever is wetter – there is nothing quite as funny as the sound of that splash as whatever I have thrown hits the surface. Mummy seems to find it less amusing, strangely.

Throwing the remote control into the bath was not at all bloody funny, despite the squeals of delight from B. He won’t find it quite so funny when we can’t change channel and he has to watch In the Shite Garden every night until he is ten. Mind you, marginally less hilarious was throwing one of E’s toys into a toilet full of warm wee, although I give him begrudging respect for being able to do so within a four second window between me getting off the toilet and quickly closing the lid, having spotted him loitering with intent moments earlier. But this throwing thing has to stop.  In fact, come here. I am going to sellotape your arms to your torso.


Surely, I can make this no clearer, mummy. I am pointing, finger outstretched, towards the blue car. I am even making repeated noises that any idiot would know is the word ‘car’. I am pointing at the car, saying the word car and staring at the car. So why is mummy looking at me with that idiotic frown on her face and not giving me the CAR?

B knows what he wants. He is just crap at telling anyone else. Pointing is all well and good, but I find he lacks a little finesse in the pointing stakes. It is all very clever mastering the art of straightening your forefinger, but a lack of fine motor control means he is less pointing, more air scribbling. He could be pointing at the ball, the fire engine or the bloody book, how am I supposed to know? And grunting at me is not helping much. I pick up each toy in turn and offer it to him, which provokes a shake of the head with renewed arm waving and louder grunting. We could be here some time. Finally, I offer him the car, which he takes. Right. The car. Why didn’t you bloody say so in the first place?

Eating stuff

Mmm, this is crunchy. Oh, and this one is quite soft. Wait, this is one is a bit… hairy. It is amazing the range of snacks that I can find on the floor. I would rather not be interrupted by mummy, who when she spots me having an unauthorised chew, will chase me round the table and try and fish the tasty morsel from my mouth. I mean, please. I don’t know where her hands have been.  And I don’t want to state the flipping obvious, but we wouldn’t have this problem if she just swept up once in a while, would we?

Oh bugger, what’s he eating now? I just need to get him to open his mouth… I find a headlock facilitates this process nicely. B seems to have developed a vice-like closure on his lips in his desperation to keep chewing whatever dried up, dusty morsel he is snacking on, so I resort to ferocious tickling to make him open his mouth. Oh look, it’s a hard black thing… it could be an insect… or something that dropped from someone’s shoe… or a fossilised pea… do you know what? I think I would rather not know. I put B down on the floor, he leans over, picks something small and shrivelled from the floor and pops it into his mouth. Now, I know what that was. It was my will to live.