Children are more addictive than HobNobs…One's never enough!
22:47 GMT, 7 November 2012
We're watching Strictly Come Dancing and my son is asking random, illogical questions.
He’s delirious with tiredness because it’s his sixth birthday and we’ve spent most of the day at Topsy Turvy, an appropriately named soft play centre.
My elbows are burning due to a drop-slide friction burn. Frankly I could do with a lie down myself — but Artem has taken his shirt off again and it’s quite distracting.
More addictive than chocolate biscuits Having more than one child is inevitable.
‘Is he the kind of man who goes to a men’s boutique’ the just-six-year-old asks, his tiny cheeks flushed with exhaustion.
Mr Candy and I exchange glances. I decide the best way to answer is to say no. It cuts off any further questioning. But our son continues down another confused conversational path.
‘When you get married, do they tell you how many children you can have Did they tell you four or did you have to vote for it’ he asks, before launching into his final — and my favourite — illogical question of the day: ‘Is it true your lips can fall off’
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Then he drifts off to sleep on the sofa. Completely pooped is the technical term, I think. My husband carries him to bed.
Sometimes I am inclined to think parenting is as complicated as trying to prepare for being a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
There’s just no way you can second-guess those questions, is there It is all so unpredictable. You’ve just got to hope you make it to the next level.
When I get to work on Monday, my friend Alice tells me she is pregnant. We work out that around the time she told me earlier this year that she probably didn’t want children, but her new husband did (he specified a daughter), she was about six weeks pregnant.
Alice is of a non-hysterical, laid-back nature. She’s stoic in an emergency. I work with Alice, and if I told her she had to jump out of an aeroplane tomorrow morning, she wouldn’t panic — she would just ask what time.
That’s how unflappable Alice is, but right now she looks a little worried. ‘Any advice’ she asks.
‘God, no,’ I reply, because after a decade of parenting four children I’ve got nothing for Alice.
She is a far more rational, patient and lovable woman than I am, so her experience as a new mum will be totally different to mine.
None of us can advise each other on what it feels like to be a mother for the first time, can we
Our experiences are so individual and personality-based. Which is why I get cross with those books that claim to define a parenting style.
How can they know what would suit me or Alice We’re totally different women. That kind of advice just makes you feel you’re doing it wrong if you don’t do it a specific way.
‘Nothing at all’ she asks, looking even more worried.
‘Well, if you insist, I have got a few snippets worth bearing in mind,’ I reply, getting oddly jealous of Alice’s wonderful news. ‘You may need to do the following:
‘Find out what a vulgar fraction is. I keep getting asked this by my ten and nine-year olds.
‘Go on a weekend staycation in the bathroom. Because once you have kids, you’ll get as much privacy as you’d get in a Thai jail.
‘Remember not to expect them to be grateful for anything you do. Ever.
‘Tread on some Lego. In the same way you might need to think about toughening up your nipples for breastfeeding, you must toughen up the soles of your feet for treading on bits of hard plastic.
‘And find out what a men’s boutique is and if anyone’s lips have ever fallen off.’
Alice doesn’t look any less worried but she thanks me and gets up to leave/escape while I am lyrically comparing parenting to living in a ‘snow-dome of uncertainty’.
She’ll work it out herself like we all do. And she’ll be a wonderful mum as nearly all women are. ‘And remember,’ I call after her. ‘Mother-love is the crack cocaine of all human emotion. It is more addictive than HobNobs. One won’t be enough!’
Good luck, Alice.
LORRAINE CANDY is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.