“Ralph! Don’t do that to Scarlett” (“Ralph”, pronounced “Rafe”)
“Isabella, come and eat these crudités” (honestly)
“Scarlett – don’t hurt the lady” (the lady being me)
Today Mini and I went for a cheese toastie in our local café only to be confronted with 13 toddlers and babies along with their 7 vile bits of parent. Their vileness was thus:
- They had taken over every table in the café (never mind that I also like to spread myself out)
- Their buggies blocked every exit (never mind that mine has often done the same)
- There was child-detritus all over the floor (never mind that they looked incredibly apologetic, and Mini has done similar)
- They were too busy talking to each other to mind how their kids were getting in everyone’s way (never mind that Mini gets in someone’s way at least five times a day)
- They were posh (I have been accused…)
- They were young (I have not recently been accused…)
- They made me even more aware of the impression Mini and I make on others as we widely and noisily dander about our business, thinking we are the centre of the universe.
All parent-hating is now essentially self-loathing dressed up as something slightly more Daily Mail-ian. My instinct on arriving at the café was to pull a disgusted face and leg it – which others have done to me upon seeing Mini regurgitate her dinner, or sneeze and then delightedly suck all the snot down into her mouth.
I’m revolted at myself every time I ask for a ‘Baby-cino’ or shove my way past people on the bus to get to the disabled spot. I am embarrassed for myself whenever I go on about how Mini dances or talks, or how gorgeous and funny she is. Because all of that makes me One of Them: a vile parent.
The British are often accused of disliking children, but I think it is really their parents who we dislike. We think of them as either child-obsessed and smug (well-behaved children) or selfish and lazy (noisy children). We don’t want them invading our public spaces, either in the real world of pubs and cafes or the virtual world of social media. Even the word ‘parenting’ is annoying me as I write it. Was it invented in 2001? I’m sure my mum never “parented”.
My blog has been described as an effective contraceptive(!), but the reality is that I take so much pleasure in my daughter, I’m embarrassed to show it – afraid of being a vile parent in the online world, as well as the real one.
This post is dedicated to the woman I met in the park last week. After we mutually flapped about whether our kids should be in nursery she told me that she was trying a new “parenting philosophy”. I internally groaned until she told me that this new philosophy was summed up as “woman, calm the fuck down”!
I’m now trying to apply it myself. Am I a vile parent? Oh, woman – calm the fuck down.