Oh I love a pious non-parent’s thoughts on parenting. Blah, blah, blah, I’d never do this, and all you need to do is that, and why can’t she see it, when I’m around her kids I just do this and they always co-operate, she is just making problems for herself, stupid parents.
Hey, I’m not going to judge you too harshly for your judging, non-parents. I did a bit of that judging myself before I was a parent and truth be told I still do from time to time. But when we do, you should know that you and I are speaking out of our arses. Really, out of our arses. Becoming a parent is a humbling experience, I’m sure there are other ways to be taken down a peg or two but few with such rapid results spring to mind.
One day you will find yourself creeping back to some mother’s door when she is sick and tired of you and your kid to plead with her to leave what she is doing to help you find a bottle cap somewhere in the bomb site that is her house after your children’s playdate. And you will be saying, could you please check your bins, could you have thrown it out? Yeah, I’m serious, I know you’ve got dinner to cook and stuff but please stick your hands in your rubbish bins and swirl them around in there to look for a bottle cap, a fairly small bottle cap come to think of it.
I’ll come back to this later.
The first “we’ll never” to be broken as parents for us was our “we’ll never use baby dummies/pacifiers”. Pre-parenthood we both thought dummies were a bad thing to bring into the spectrum – stupid parents, but a few weeks into it with our colicky baby and my bleeding nipples we were reduced to a hysterical argument over dummies (nb. that’s an argument of hysterics and not a funny argument), held over the din of our crying baby. He remained opposed to dummies for much of the argument as only someone with intact nipples can be - blah, blah, blah, talking out his arse. But a further ten minutes of our baby howling and he was all ok, where’s a dummy.
And this is what you may never experience as a pious non-parent, if you never cross over to the darkside of parenthood. You may never feel the wondeful bewilderment of doing something that you think is a terrible idea because if it works you are solving an even more terrible problem. You may also never get the opportunity to realise that you were actually dead-set wrong on something, that it wasn’t so straight-forward after all. To think to yourself - huh, fancy that, I actually knew nothing, not even about myself.
We tried and we tried. We poked that dummy in, we nudged it in, we snuck it in, we held it in, we forced it in, and our daughter hated that thing. Who knew an infant baby has such tongue manipulation, but that tiny tongue came in every direction to dislodge that damn dummy from her mouth? We gave up. Never mind, to this day we are breaking parenting ”we’ll never’s”.
So our daughter never really understood dummies. She never even noticed dummies until quite recently. I’m sure I remember Lauca asking about dummies and I thought I remembered providing sensible explanations too, but somehow she has come to know them as ’baby whistles’. I quite like the thought of her reality; where there is something so essential to a baby’s ability to communicate and entertain itself that we parents are always stuffing them into their mouths, to be at the ready for the baby’s whistling tweet. The tweet never comes, but we all wait and hope for the day that a baby decides to actually use its whistle.
When Lauca started playing earnestly with dolls she realised that her doll was missing something vital to its integrity, something that all babies seem to have - a dummy in its mouth. One day being the ultimate recycler that kids are, she secured a quite distinctive flat bottle cap from somewhere (I don’t know where so its irreplacable) and proclaimed it her doll’s ‘baby whistle’. How she loves that bit of plastic, its so important to her doll because you know how babies feel about their whistles, and how she misplaces that beloved bit of plastic crap all the freakin’ time.
And so this is how I have come to find myself at mothers’ houses, that have been upended by a couple of hours of toddler play, pleading with the mother to help me find a bottle cap, like a needle in a haystack, this very precious bottle cap.