The truth about autism parenting

Search for funny memes, quotes and cartoons about parenting and you’ll be inundated with an expanse of choice. Type in ‘funny autism parenting memes’ and the selection is somewhat depressing.

Autism isn’t funny, some of you might be thinking. Autism parenting is really hard and shouldn’t be laughed at. Well…this is where I obviously differ. Finding humour can make things feel more normal. It’s important for me to find humour in all aspects of my parenting. I don’t discriminate between my children – they’re both equally irritating.

I don’t see my son’s autism as bad thing, nor do I see it as a superpower. My innate operating system is Windows 8. He runs on OS X. I basically understand OS X, it just takes me a while to sometimes ‘get’ it. He thinks Windows 8 is fucking idiotic and makes no sense whatsoever. Perhaps he has a point.

He also has biological toddler genes, so sometimes it’s really hard to tell whether he’s being a massive pain in the arse because of his operating system or because of the psychopathic toddler personality winning through.

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or think I’m somehow admirable for how I manage. Because of my boy, I have developed some amazing skills and gained invaluable knowledge that I will be forever grateful for.

Ninja skills: I have the ability to predict a strike and intercept with lightening precision. 86% of the time. Not only could I catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks, I could also put a jumper on it, get a pair of trousers on, not bother with shoes and get it strapped into a car seat all whilst blocking blows to the face and keeping a calm demeanour.

Running skills: I was never one for sports at school, least of all running. Now I can go from zero to sprint in 0.4 seconds at any given opportunity. Even from a sitting position.

Language skills: I don’t bother with silly, quirky language any more and say exactly what I mean. If I don’t want to have to break out the ninja skills, I say the dinner is ready when it is exactly ready, not five minutes after I’ve finished faffing arranging the food perfectly symmetrically on the plate. I also show what I mean -for example, what is five minutes? Is it a ‘Dad’ five minutes going for a quick poo which is in fact twenty minutes? Or is it his sister’s five minutes putting her shoes on which is actually an eternity? Neither. It is the exact amount of time is takes for the last grain of sand to fall through the hourglass.

Detective skills: Like a Chief Superintendent scanning a crime scene for evidence, I have the ability to hone in on possible clues to indicate reasons for a meltdown or an incident and will immediately log it in my memory bank to ensure that it never, ever occurs again. It’s not always obvious and can sometimes take a great deal of investigation. Other times, seeing two kids and one Thomas The Tank Engine toy, it’s a no brainer. *Breaks out ninja skills.

Planning skills: Taking into account all previous incidences that have been permanently embedded in my brain, I have to carefully execute meticulously thought out plans and have a back up contingency plan for any unforeseen circumstances that may have been impossible to predict. Not only could I perfectly carry out a counter terrorism hostage retrieval operation, I could grab a 6-pinter of milk from the shop and still be home to watch 40 episodes of Thomas before bedtime. Or the same episode 40 times. It varies.

Those toddler genes have a lot to answer for.

Pair of pliers with tea. Standard. Nothing to see here.
The pliers was his idea. Not part of an emergency backup plan.

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My Three Obsessions of Parenthood

Before Parenthood (BP): Intelligent discussions about politics, films and how much booze I had consumed at the weekend.

After Parenthood (AP): Comfortably discussing bowel movements with people I’ve only just met; my own and my children’s. Regularly taking photographs of the toilet beasts produced by children that only live on breadsticks, raisins and cheese. Needing a faecal update at every opportunity to help keep the poo anxiety at bay.

BP: Suffering from bed ache after spending far too long in bed.

AP: Suffering from sleep anxiety and graduating as a senior member of the Noise Police which involves wanting to kill my husband for tripping over what sounds like a mountain of tambourines, anyone with fireworks, the postman, aircraft, twatty teenagers on 50cc scooters and barking dogs*. (I am exempt from this as the noise I accidentally make is an accident.)
*Fully aware this will change when I have my own twatty teenager.

BP: Eating out in places called restaurants, fluctuating wildly between high end cuisine and Frankie & Benny’s.

AP: Suffering food anxiety as I rotate between four main accepted meals of frozen beige, pasta beige, rice beige and bread beige. Occasionally pinning them down to pump an Ella’s Kitchen pouch down their necks like a foie gras goose and secretly hoping the tomato sauce on the pizza counts as 1 of their 5 a day.

Oh, to be a mother like the ones I saw in all the magazines.

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Sex education for your five year old: what not to say…

My husband and I made a pact to never lie to our kids. We quickly learned this was an idiotic pact as we informed our children that the local soft play was closed. Again. (How they earn a living, I’ll never know *inserts winky face).

We changed the pact to never giving misinformation to our kids. The pact needed to exist because my husband still thought thunder was created by clouds banging together, despite gaining a physics a-level, and we didn’t want our children to feel aggrieved later in life by incorrect facts they had been told, just to shut them up.

Death? No problem. I stick to the facts. We return to the earth and feed the flora and fauna in the same way it feeds us during our lifetimes. “But I don’t want you to die, Mummy,” my five year old says forlornly. “We all die. But hopefully by the time I die, I’ll be really old and you will have spent a good few years wiping my bottom for me as I won’t be able to use a toilet any more…or not even know my own name for that matter.” See? Facts.

Sex education? Easy. Simple facts. No need to go into details of who has to sleep in the damp patch. Just cold, hard facts. But I don’t have to think about this right now. My eldest is five. She won’t ask about the birds and bees for at least another two years.

Five year old: “Mum…when I grow up to be a lady, I’m going to have lots of babies. *Thinks for a moment* How will I get a baby in my tummy?”

Shit. Really? Shit. Ok. Facts….seed. Seed in tummy. That’ll do.

Me: “A seed gets planted inside your tummy and a baby grows.”

Lame. Really lame.

Five year old: “Do I eat the seed?”

Just say yes. Eating the seed is good…Hang on…NO! NO TO EATING THE SEED! 

Me: “No…ummmm…I tell you what…get your pjs on and we’ll have a little chat about how babies are made.”

Good. Stalling. I like it. Load up DisneyCollectorBR on youtube and she’ll forget all about it.

Me: “You know…it’s not inevitable you’ll want children. Lots of people decide not to. Both your uncles have decided not to have children. Your body. You can do what you want with it…and if that means not having children, then fine.”

Female empowerment. I like where you’re going with this…

Five year old: “So, how do I get a baby in my tummy?”

You carried on talking. Why did you do that? The feminist cause could have waited…

Me: “So…you know girls have…”

Use it’s proper name. Use it’s proper name. Say Vagina. Say it.

Me: “…minnerwins…”

It’s ok. Minnerwin is fine.

Me: “…and boys have windles…”

Well, you’ve said minnerwin now so it’s utterly pointless saying penis. You dick.

Me: “…well…the windle goes inside the minnerwin hole…the hole that bleeds…and puts a seed inside the tummy which meets with an egg and grows into a baby.”

What the actual fuck. The hole that bleeds? Why? Why? Why?

Five year old: “Do the seeds already have names on?”

Amazing question. I bloody love her so much. I love her for completely bypassing ‘the hole that bleeds’.

Me: “No, my darling. The seeds are inside…well…you know the…ball bags under the windle? They’re inside them. There’s no names on them. They’re blank.”

Are you fucking out of your mind? Ball bags? Did her question even require this explanation? No. Just stop now. Stop talking. Get DisneyCollector whatever the fuck her name is on youtube and shut the fuck up.

Five year old: “So…does that doctor that looks at babies on the computer see the name?”

Me: “No…the doctor might be able to see whether it is a boy or girl but the baby comes out without a name, unless it’s mummy and daddy decide on a name before the baby is born. We knew you were a girl and named you long before you came out of my minnerwin.”

Five year old: “Babies come out of minnerwins?”


Me: “Goodness…is that the time? I think it’s time for sleep now. Goodnight.”

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The Eight Methods of Negotiation

Parents have spent centuries developing ways to combat the power struggle that exists between them and their offspring, using pathetic attempts at gaining compliance so they can delude themselves that they are actually in charge. It appears there are eight main methods of negotiation that exist when dealing with children, although this certainly isn’t exhaustive, and I have adopted all of them at some point or another.

It’s not always necessary to use all eight methods for the same activity – hair washing, for example, may only require one or two. However, there are some activities that require pulling out all the stops; mealtimes being one of them. Sick of serving up beige food with the nutritional value of bark, or having to witness that look when I present them with something new, these eight tried and tested ways may be all I need to lead me to victory:


“Look at this delicious dinner I have just made. It has special ingredients that make you really strong and clever.”

*Only really used when I have the required amount of patience (varies daily). If I have not had an adequate amount of sleep due to dealing with the dream shark, and I get presented with the look almost immediately upon delivery of the dinner, then this method will be skipped entirely.


“You’re not leaving the table until you have eaten your dinner. Even if you have to stay there all night.”

Standing my ground. I make my position perfectly clear. I’m definitely in charge. I’m almost definitely absolutely possibly going to win this.


“There are children starving in Africa who would give their leg limbs for a mouthful of your dinner.”

Clearly floundering, I jump straight into cliché, followed by muttering, “you ungrateful little shit,” under my breath just to make myself feel better.


“Try it and I’ll give you £1.”

The child waivers slightly. The promise of a gold coin usually bags the win…but not this time. The food is just too nutritious.

Emotional blackmail

“I have spent hours making this for you. I’ve even made my fingers bleed making this dinner and if you don’t try it, I’ll be very, very sad. Do you want to make me cry?”

*Inserts other words such as disappointed, heartbroken, devastated and ruined for maximum effect.


“If you don’t eat your dinner, I’ll never cook for you again and you will have to survive on scraps out of bins.”

Other threats include dobbing them in to their favourite teacher. Despite usually being incredibly effective – it’s time to go nuclear.



Complete with a dramatic door slam and stomping off powerfully, spitting expletives through gritted teeth followed quickly by an overwhelming sense of failure and guilt.


“Five mouthfuls…three…just one mouthful…taste it…just taste it, please…just lick the spoon…one lick…sniff it then…one sniff…look at it…just one look…look at it with one eye and you can leave the table.”

YES! They looked at it! VICTORY!

And who says this parenting lark is difficult? *Pours large glass of wine and beats self with parenting stick for not sticking with ‘Incentive’.

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A smile is all it takes…

I’ve almost entirely stopped caring now about the judgements I receive when I’m out with The Boy. He is a fairly sizeable 3 year old and it’s not unknown to receive a disapproving look when I’m carrying him or pushing him in the buggy. I don’t care that it looks like I’m carrying a 15 year old boy like a chimp baby.

He rarely has shoes on. This is mostly met with amusement and bewilderment at how he walks across sharp gravel like it’s soft grass. I’m passed caring about that.

The ear-piercing scream and lurching towards me to swipe at my face or bite me? Yeah…sometimes a little harder to take but all in all, I don’t care about everyone else. I’m just concentrating on trying to make things better for The Boy. Mostly for my sake – I’m no angel – but a little for him too.

Today was one of those days. I’d taken him to his favourite place. Did everything he liked in the order he liked it. Made our way to the highlight of the day and all was going swimmingly. We arrived at a short queue for the steam train but all was good in the world because I’d pre-purchased the ticket. It was a minute maximum to keep him from losing his shit and becoming angry hulk boy about not getting on the train instantly. Then the big decision…whose poor carriage do we get into knowing there was going to be some ‘social issues’ whenever other human beings are involved.

Carriage full of kids. Avoided. Carriage with a small space left. Avoided. Carriage with chairs that can be climbed over (despite people sitting on them). Avoided. An end carriage, closed in, only two other people – an older couple. This will do. In my head I’m already feeling sorry for them and apologising for The Boy. I know I shouldn’t but I do do this.

We get on. The Boy instantly wants to stand next to the window. It’s where he always stands. Shit. “Ted, sitting here.” I try knowing it’s futile. He tries to push his way to the window again. “Ted, sitting here.” Desperately trying to redirect him knowing it’s pointless. In my head I’m hoping the couple get it and offer to move, but they don’t. He tries again. “Ted, sitting here.” Aaaaaaaand….meltdown.

There’s the scream. Oh, and here comes the biting. Now he’s smashing his head against the bench. Still screaming. Perfect.

The couple just look at me, horrified. “Ted, sitting here.” Utterly pointless but I try, mainly to show them that I am trying. Still they stare at me, waiting for me to ‘do something’ to stop the noise. The Boy lurches towards the woman’s leg and grabs her ankle. “Owwwwww!” she shouts as The Boy buries his nails into her skin. Fuck. I wasn’t expecting that. “I’m so sorry. He has autism and doesn’t understand why I’m stopping him standing next to the window, where he always stands.”  Still nothing. Just a stare boring into my soul, whilst leg rubbing. They’re looking at me like I’m the most abhorrent parent in the universe.

In a second, it flashes across my mind. “Get out. Just apologise and get out. It was a fucking stupid idea bringing him here today.”

As I’m visualising taking him off the train, my mouth opens and what came out even surprised me. “Would you mind if we swapped seats?”

She looked at me like I’d just asked if it would be okay if I pulled my knickers down and take a dump on the floor. She didn’t answer me – just stared. After an excruciating five seconds, she and her husband stood up and let The Boy stand near the window, making their annoyance well known with their audible tuts and sighs.

The train moved forward. The Boy was calm. Sweaty and red, but calm. I held him on my lap and kissed the back of his head. Inwardly, I was laughing. Laughing at the lunacy of the situation that I find myself in so regularly. Laughing at the rage The Boy must have felt when he gouged the poor woman’s leg. Laughing at how the carriage was eerily silent after what had probably felt like an eternity of screaming.

About halfway into the train ride, all was still calm. Everyone had resumed normal business. The kids were chatting busily with their parents, asking a million questions and dispensing a million facts. The traumatised couple sat next to me had relaxed into the ride and were chatting about the flora and fauna. All was well.

As I looked up, I noticed the mum sat opposite looking at me. She held my gaze and then she smiled. She continued to look into my face for a few seconds before we both looked away. In those few moments, she had said a thousand words:

“It’s okay.”
“I understand.”
“I don’t judge you.”
“It hasn’t bothered me.”
“You’re doing great.”
“We’re in this together.”

I don’t know what her experience of autism is, nor do I care. She just got it and wanted to tell me. That’s when the tears unexpectedly erupted. I buried my head into the back of The Boy’s mass of tangled hair and let a few tears fall. I’m sure she wouldn’t have wanted me to have cried at her show of kindness, but it meant so very much.

We all have those desperate situations as parents, regardless of whether your child is impaired or not. Those moments when you think, “what the fuck am I doing? I have no idea what to do next.” You know you’ll get through it. You always do, but that bit of recognition speaks volumes and makes it feel okay.  A smile is really all it takes to make things feel a little better. Thank you to her. I will always be grateful for that smile.

A Toddler’s Guide to Choosing a Transition Object

Frightening illustration from Wikipedia
Frightening illustration from Wikipedia

You have probably discovered by now that your primary carer cannot wait to bin you off with anyone who will have you. Despite being desperate to bring you into the world, your massively differing body clock seems to cause your grown up to have psychotic episodes and be really ill, or whatever.

Screaming till you choke on your own spit and clinging to their leg is futile. Grown up brains are underdeveloped and lack the ability empathise with your emotion. They’ll always prioritise ‘I desperately need a poo’ or ‘if I don’t eat something, I’ll die’ over your emotional well being.

This is when you need to invest in a Transition Object; an object that can serve as a replacement when your mother – so called -pisses off to ‘earn money to live’ or some other bullshit excuse in an attempt to make her look less selfish.

Selecting a TO requires careful planning and research. It needs to fit a very specific criteria in order to get your grown up working in complete harmony with your needs. It doesn’t just serve to comfort you but can be used for bargaining, manipulation and all other forms of skulduggery normally observed in an adult human mother when trying to get you to sleep in your own bed/not piss yourself/smile in photographs. So, here is my handy guide to help you make a good choice:

It is important to consider when choosing a TO that you will be carrying it with you at all times, day and night. Having a TO that is average size (a generic teddy bear size) is pointless. It either needs to be larger than a five year old, or small enough to fit in the palm of your hand making it incredibly troublesome to a) carry or b) find*.

*At your convenience

Because it’ll either be being permanently dragged through exfoliated skin cells, animal hair, mud, puddles of your own urine or being clutched in a sweaty, greasy little hand, it needs to be a neutral shade of beige to fully display the collection of crusty matter. This will also come in very handy for the next point as it makes it disappear easily amongst the rest of the detritus.

An inconveniently large TO ideally needs to be a blanket to aid with the dragging through crap process as well as the getting lost regularly saga. A tiny teddy or stuffed animal of indiscernible species is also ideal for this very important part of TO ownership. It is essential that the TO is lost at least once in the bed covers, every night. This is to ensure your grown up doesn’t get too much sleep; sleep causes cancer so you will be helping them live longer.

Perhaps once every six months, lose the TO in the local area – far enough away that your grown up has to employ the efforts of international rescue, but not too far that it is gone forever. High anxiety situations such as this keeps your grown up’s skin looking more youthful.

If you feel like your grown up has been particularly emotionally unavailable, then you will need to lose it in a motorway service station. Despite the fact you will go through extreme grief during this difficult time, your grown up will suddenly possess powers of omnipotence to be at your beckon call, usually with large amounts of chocolate.

Due to the power a TO has to possess to fully ensure the grown up conforms when required, it needs to be either a) expensive (think Build-a-Bear) or b) irreplaceable. Ebay needs to be redundant and no amount of frantic internet searching will be able to locate anything like it on Earth.

This is also why it is imperative that you never let your grown up wash it. If, God forbid, another child does have the same TO as you, you can at least guarantee, by the no washing rule, that it won’t be covered in the same crusty shit, or emit the same cheesy smell that yours does.

Despite the fact you have employed its services to act as a replacement for when your grown up has disappeared again ‘treating yet another head lice infestation’, know that your TO will never let you down, always be there for you and will comfort you when you’re left on your own in front of Cbeebies…again. The sooner you get one, the less likely you’ll end up addicted to crack and yo yo-ing in and out of prison. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Written by Edward, aged 3 years.

Eight of the Biggest Changes Since Motherhood PLUS EIGHT MORE…

A while back, I wrote an informative piece on eight of the biggest changes since motherhood. Clearly being a bit previous with its publication, I have thought of several more. So, here for your gratification, is the original piece with an additional eight, and to save myself from further embarrassment, I’ll add a disclaimer that this list is not exhaustive and will likely be added to on a regular basis as my life continues to devolve into chaos. Enjoy.

Obviously, there are a multitude of things that are just not the same after Vaginal Destruction Day, some quite surprising in fact. Like my new found hatred for fireworks. I used to really enjoy them before VDD; perhaps that’s because they only seemed to appear on one day a year. However, since having children, they seem to have exploded onto the scene from October until the New Year with their constant threat of waking sleeping children. Thank you wanky cheap imports.

Clock changes. Getting the extra hour in bed. Oh, it was heavenly. Now, it’s just utter torture knowing that your 6am, four year old alarm clock will now be jumping on your head at 5am.

However, there are sixteen (and counting) major things that are just not the same for me anymore.

# 1. Makeup.

How the feck did I have time for shit like blusher? Get the black bags hidden. Do I look less like death? Yes. Fuck it, just get out the house.

#2. Tampons

Has the flow changed, or just the flow outlet? Who knows, but there’s carnage every 28 days.

#3. Body hair.

This is a conversation I had with my four year old daughter the other day:

4yo: What are you doing?
Me: I’m putting my deodorant on.
4yo: Why?
Me: Because when you’re a grown up, you need to use it to stop being so sweaty and smelly.
4yo: Does it make your hairs smell nicer?
Me: Did your Dad put you up to say that?

#4. Underwear.

My underwear drawer is possibly the most depressing place on Earth. But, it’s sooooooo damned comfortable.

#5. My brain.

Who are you? What am I writing about? Have I eaten today? Shit, I think I’ve just wet myself.

#6. Muscles.

I have a new found strength as a mother. I can wrestle an inhumanly strong toddler into his trousers, his high chair and his car seat. But only using my left arm. The baby bicep. You pick a hip and stick to it meaning that one arm constantly bears the weight until you have just one ridiculously strong arm which then comes into it’s own when overbearing the strength and will of an outraged child.

#7. Lie ins.

Fuck off end of British Summer Time.

I don’t know whether it’s just me, but I spend my life yearning for a wake up time that doesn’t begin with the number 6, but when I do get the chance of a lie in, I lay there awake. I just stare at the ceiling listening to the screams and mayhem from down stairs and can’t close my eyes. Either that or I’m writing a novel in my head.

#8. Toenails

I am fully aware of my unusually large big toe. However, it can always be made more beautiful with a splash of colour. Now my husband doesn’t know whether it’s my leg hair or toenails causing the lacerations to his lower body in bed. That, or we’re stuck together like velcro because of the sheer amount of body hair between us.

#9.  Bath time.

Bath water seems to possess similar qualities to holy water; my children scream as if being burnt alive like tiny demons. Unless I’m in it. Then bath time consists of :

a) staring at the furry animal between my legs for an inaudibly long time to ensure it isn’t going to bite them.
b) being water boarded.
c) orifice violation.
d) husband taking a dump.

#10. Language.
My ability to use three syllable words seems to have vanished. Along with my ability to say the word, “dead,” without shuffling uncomfortably, coughing loudly and changing the subject immediately onto rainbows and unicorns.

#11. Pockets
Coats, dressing gowns, trousers; if there is a pocket on a garment, it will be brimming with random floor pickings that make no sense whatsoever but still don’t quite make it to the bin.

#12. Carbon footprint

Three hour daily drives for ‘nap time’ + house full of plastic tat that will never decompose + washing machine that only gets turned off when it explodes + every light in the house being left on + the use of AA batteries increasing 400 fold = death to the earth.

#13. Facebook Profile Pictures
Faux-ejaculate Binge Drinker to Earth Mother in just a few clickety clicks. No-one with ever suspect you’re rocking in a corner, flicking your teeth, whilst secretly plotting the murder of your snoring husband.

#14. Music

Disney songs and nursery rhymes now infiltrate my brain like an infection. Every day, I end up punching myself in the face after driving all the way to work listening to the some Disney shit when I could have been listening to anything else. ANY. THING. FFS.

#15. Organising.

“Husband, when is the next gap in the diary between after school activities, weekend activities, birthday parties, earning an actual living, charity fundraising, clearing out the loft and buying more unnecessary pets? 2056? Okay, I’ll book Derek and Pamela in then.”

#16. Me time.

Wisdom tooth removal? Smear test? Ingrowing toenail excision? When can you fit me in?

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Is it really good to be different?

For World Autism Awareness Week, I wanted to share some photos of The Boy, celebrating what it is to be different. I wanted to highlight his quirks and nuances and be proud of all the things that make him different.

It seems being different is celebrated in a way to help children that don’t quite fit in feel better about themselves. But should we really be celebrating difference?

I’m a persistent over-sharer, not because I get to hear people congratulate me on being brave for being different, but because I seek solace from those that say they feel exactly the same way. How many of you have felt relief after reading something that you could relate to on many levels? How many of us belong to groups and join forums just to be among like-minded people? Is that a bad thing? It’s human nature to want to belong, to fit in, to be accepted and to feel comfortable around those that are similar. It is what helped the human species survive in the first place after all.

My olive skin is a completely different shade to my daughter’s pale creamy tones. But we share the same DNA. My son learns and understands the world differently to me. But we share the same DNA. I have friends of all different faiths, backgrounds, colour and ability. But as humans, we are all variations of the same DNA.

Perhaps it’s not revering people’s differences that should be encouraged, but understanding and accepting that, actually, we’re not all that differentThere’s probably more that unites us all in our similarities than there ever will be to divide us in our differences.

As the research rumbles on into understanding autism, I hope that one day, autism will be viewed in much the same way as a personality trait or characteristic; something that is taken for granted rather than feared. I don’t want to cure my son’s autism anymore than cure his shaggy, light brown hair or round, green eyes. It’s part of him. Of his DNA. So, instead of celebrating my son for being special or different, I’m going to commend him just for being him; undeniably brilliant.

Photo credits to my dear friend, Maria.

Why can’t you be more like…

I thought having autism might free my son from my perpetual comparing but apparently not; as we all sat together in his group session for children with communication and socialising difficulties, I studied the only girl in the group. She’s a gentle soul, afflicted with over receptive senses that suppress her. She contorts her body to try and cope, making the space she is in and the world she struggles to understand as small as possible. She is completely silent apart from the delightful tinkle of laughter she emits when she’s being tickled and I’ve never seen a child so mesmerised by shaving foam. What I can see is a calm, passive, non-aggressive, quiet and amenable little girl – the very opposite of my boy – and for just a few guilt-ridden moments, I stare at her and wish that he could be more like her.

I see her for a snapshot of her life, once a week, and can only see enviable qualities that my son doesn’t have. What I don’t see is how long it takes to get her dressed. I don’t see her screaming in pain as she’s being washed. I don’t see her frozen in fear at the sound of a plane. I don’t see how very small her universe must be in order for her to cope. I’m guessing at these things of course. But we all have desperate moments.

Perhaps in a tiny snapshot of life, there’ll be someone looking at my boy and only seeing a passionate, curious, energetic, enthusiastic and happy child and perhaps wishing that their passive, introvert, quiet and shy kid was more like him. I wish that someone was me but it isn’t. In the fog of exhaustion, it is sometimes just too hard.

Now I’ve got it off my chest, I could make a solemn vow, from this moment on, to stop making comparisons when times get tricky…but I won’t. It’s a promise I know I will break and that will only add to the mountain of guilt that I was bequeathed the moment I became a parent. No…I will let the thoughts in. I will take a moment to look at them, accept their truth, and then let them float on by without further attention. I will remind myself that everything passes. I will remind myself that I am doing the best I can. I will remind myself that everything will be okay. I will remind myself that I am that someone (very nearly) all of the time.

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An Idiot’s Guide To Stains

It is usually possible to extract enough information from the location of stains on a person’s clothes to decipher whether they are indeed a parent and the age of child they are a parent to.

From the moment the baby is evicted from the mothership, it leaves clues of it’s existence around your person. This is most commonly in the form of a white smear perched happily on your shoulder and will remain there in various guises until the child leaves home.

A new game develops early in parenthood known as, “Is It Poo?” The rules are very simple; locate an unidentified stain, stare at it quizzically for a few seconds then sniff it. I would thoroughly recommend not licking as it is usually poo. In fact, the game should be renamed, “How Did Poo Get There?”

Clothes that you would have ordinarily thrown out for the wash get picked up, dusted down and put back on ready for another days onslaught. Non-parents will happily point these stains out to you at every opportunity as if doing you a favour in case you weren’t aware of their existence (you were), whereas fellow parents join in with the catharsis of picking silently at unidentified crust when stood chatting rocking together.

Smears of mud that adorn tops of thighs signal a parent of a toddler/preschooler/teenager that has momentarily lost it’s ability to walk, mere seconds after relishing the delights of stamping in muddy puddles.  These stains will remain there for the foreseeable future as the parent usually only has one pair of trousers that comfortably fit since childbirth.

No fabric is exempt from the stain-spreading abilities of a child and no surface is immune. Washable pens become impervious in the hands of a small human as they can somehow detect exactly which surface falls outside of the ‘washable’ characteristic and scribbles violently, forever leaving self expression all over the place.

New games will naturally evolve as the children get older. These include:

Get Your Shoes Off The Sofa

Don’t Wipe Your Fingers On There
Please Use A Tissue
Stop Masturbating In Your Socks

All of which have exactly the same rules:

Player One shouts the title of the game loudly at Player Two. Player Two ignores Player One and continues with loathsome behaviour. Repeat daily.

Investing in a really good washing machine or spending out on decent stain removing products are a waste of time and money; just buy an incinerator. It will serve you much better. Or move house.