As a child, I used to be terrified of the number 3 after a slow counting of 1 followed by 2. Three meant: this is no longer a friendly food fight with your little sister, but an offence that carried some vague but surely terrifying consequence.
You can ignore 1 and 2 like the younger brother of a school bully, but when it came to 3… 3 was not just bad, it was hardcore. You did not mess with 3. Three bears. Three strikes. Game Over.
My daughter can count to ten now, but for some reason the power of 3 seems be to be completely lost on her. And we tried. I reached out to the mighty 3 in a moment of desperation: after several rounds of intense negotiations for her to eat, have a bath, put her pyjamas on and keep her pyjamas on, I was at the end of every tether come bedtime milk. I snapped. “Nanami. Drink your milk. NOW!
She looked at me with those big brown eyes that could melt a glacier. “Three” she said quietly followed by a big, heavy sigh that sounded like genuine disappointment. Great. My two-year old now thinks I’m an idiot. My day just peaked.
There was nothing more to do than admit full defeat, give her a big cuddle and be glad that I’m raising a child that won’t be afraid of numbers.
There is this notion that by virtue of giving birth you suddenly morph into some kind of heavenly creature with bottomless patience and a slight penchant for martyrdom. Anything other than servicing the needs of your angel child is deemed as selfish, and mothers who fail in their display of complete dedication to said child, will feel the sharp glares darting across from members of the parenting community.
I have long given up the charade of being anything other than human, which includes such lowly behaviour as… feeling angry, feeling sad, tired or just so fed-up that an Aperol spritz suddenly seems like a sensible breakfast option.
So why is everyone obsessed with being perfect? Will the whole system collapse if we admitted to ourselves that we still enjoy a dirty joke? Or perhaps a bit of Schadenfreude, even if it is at the expense of a young child? What kind of an example are we setting for our kids, if we become humourless autobots with the predictable behaviour of a vending machine? “You said the word please! That’s 100 points and half a glass of juice for our lucky winner in the pink dungarees!”
There need to be boundaries of course, we’re not a household of feral cats. We don’t throw things in the house, even if that thing is a ball and is clearly meant for throwing. We don’t hit other people, even if they ‘share’ our toys and we really really want to. We don’t pick flowers for fun or hurt animals, and that includes the teeny tiny ones such as ants. No feet on the table, and no shoes in the house. That kind of thing is a red line, and once crossed, mummy monster will come out and descend like a ton of lego bricks.
But whatever happens between those red lines, is fair game – and yes that includes jumping on the sofa and laughing at your own farts.
My two year-old recently declared that she was too busy to talk to me. I must admit that at first, I was surprised and perhaps a little proud of the fact that she expressed her wishes so clearly and concisely. “Mummy, I’m still busy with the book. Please let me finish reading. You can go away.” A cool push of the hand against my face.
There are times when I wish that I could be as forthright with the people in my life – but alas – what I tend to do is take a deep breath, dig down to find my inner Zen and pronto: smile. Albeit forced through the teeth with a glint in the eye that I hope is mistaken for friendliness.
My daughter doesn’t have to care about anyone liking her. She doesn’t have the concept of social perceptions, and a need to keep up, let down, or change any of those. She just…is. How refreshing, if not a little sad to be rejected by my own flesh and blood.
The things that I do for you! Feed you, dress you, wipe your bottom…make sure you’re safe, you’re happy and have everything you could possibly need. I used to be a size 8, you know.
And just as my indignation starts to build up and I feel myself actually getting a bit annoyed, there she is. Her little cheeky smile tilted at 45 degrees. “Here you go, mummy. Can you read it?” She passes me the book and there I am, wrapped around that tiny little finger of hers once again.
Hi this is my first post as a blogger, and the fact you are reading this means I have an audience. Although being a ‘blogger’ doesn’t sound as impressive as it perhaps did ten years ago, I am happy to join the party rather late than never.
Who am I and why am I sending words into the ether? My name is Judy. I am a journalist, a filmmaker, a charity director, a social tech entrepreneur, a graduate, a wife, daughter, sister, mum.
And now I’m a blogger too. So here we go. Another label to my name! Things are starting to look busy.