Childrens’ Incessant Need to Embarrass their Parents

Anyone who’s been through it knows that childbirth marks the total destruction of women’s dignity. Sitting around half or fully naked in a culture formed in a cool northern climate. Having one’s private parts, access to which have been zealously guarded since early childhood, suddenly available to anyone and everyone if it would only help for five minutes. Lying around half-drugged in pools of one’s own vomit/ piss/ shit/ blood (choose own humiliation as appropriate) while yelling like a loon.

And now I’m just starting to discover how much worse it gets.

My adorable pair of darlings, no doubt having noticed that I’m getting a little bit blasé about them wandering around declaring every passing adult(ish) male to be their daddy, were asking their own daddy a few days ago about their ‘other daddy’. They had just been watching Coraline (a film based on Neil Gaiman’s book and featuring a button-eyed ‘other mother’ and ‘other dad’, if you didn’t know). As if that was not enough, I was summoned by said individual last night to answer for their referring to their ‘three daddies’. It seems that the unique combination of lighting had produced a triple shadow on the floor. I am still hoping to get through this phase without being summarily divorced.

While I have been fortunate to avoid public toddler tantrums, there was the episode a couple of weeks ago when darling daughter announced loudly at the supermarket (why do they have to talk so loudly) that I mustn’t push my trolley or I’d hit ‘that lady’s fat bum’. Whoever you were, wherever you are, I am so sorry for my failure to teach my children better manners. Actually I hope she didn’t hear. She was less than 2 metres away. Dammit.

The latest public exposure of my parental inadequacies came at the school party where daughter danced around singing, in the sweetest possible and of course loud voice, ‘bite my shiny metal ass’. She got it off Futurama. Which has a 12 cert. Her dad let her watch it: it was all her dad’s fault (perhaps I’d be able to counteract those divorce proceedings). Many thanks fellow parents for the solidarity you all displayed in almost completely failing to hide your smirks. My time will come…

Our wonderful little son got into the act on the train. A very crowded train, naturally. We had of course thought ahead and brought entertainment for him so that he shouldn’t be too antisocial, so he thoughtfully took it upon himself to provide some for others. He is learning to talk and delighted our fellow passengers with his discovery of a new word – ‘bogey’. After several noisy explorations of this new sound dad suggested gently that a more polite term would be better appreciated in public. His response was to stand up tall and proudly announce at top volume ‘bum, bum, bum’ while slapping his own. Repeatedly. At least on this trip he managed to hit the ’emergency’ button in the toilet (which he greatly enjoyed visiting, also repeatedly – I never anticipated having to point out that ‘toilets are not toys’ pre-children) only once.

I can only assume that this is all designed by Mother Nature to steel my nerve so that in future years I will happily engage in public off-tune singing, stupid dancing with arm waving and other activities designed specifically to embarrass them. In order that they may become stronger individuals. Nothing whatsoever to do with base revenge and getting some of my own back. I wouldn’t be so petty. Honest.

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