That’s what you have to control when you become a parent. My nephew Munchkin, a long time ago, was devastated – DEVASTATED – when one of those rehydrating dinosaur eggs you buy from a newsagent or tacky souvenir shop, take out of the plastic vacuum pack, lovingly place a dish of water and watch every day for a week did not in fact hatch a real dinosaur for him to play with. He was eventually talked round to sheepish embarrassment, which is in some ways worse than devastation, being a more grown-up emotion.
Of course kids’ expectations are impossible to control because they’re often so, well, a bit odd. Ziggler has slept in her own bed (don’t ask) for 5 nights on the trot so tomorrow she will receive a present. It is to be, apparently, a ‘pink horse, because I like pink and I like horses’. I’m hoping, though one can never be sure with 3-year-olds, that a plastic one with mane-styling accessories will do the job and her dreams haven’t conjured up a rippling steed of rosy hue which she can keep in the garden and ride to nursery. We shall see.
Really, though, it’s your own expectations that are the buggers. I have never been glossy-haired, stylish, thin or carefree so I don’t know why I imagined that I would be like that when I had a newborn, tossing my hair with the baby snug in a sling and Trulove laughing joyously next to me, a la NCT catalogue. I did though. I’m not even going to go into my expectations of childbirth as my pelvis still twitches at the thought quite frankly.
Today was sunny after days and weeks and months and possibly years of heavy rain. I thought it would be nice, after nursery, for us all to go to the park and have a picnic lunch as we have been in the house together every day since it started. I spent some time carefully selecting and preparing delicious morsels for my lovelies to nibble upon: rolling up tortillas and snipping them into little catherine wheels and chopping carrots into perfectly-proportioned juliennes. I packed everything up neatly and even used the cool bag so it would be fresh when we reached the park. I remembered Ziggler’s scooter, and the rug to sit on, and a ball to play with.
Here’s what happened:
Ziggler didn’t want to ride her scooter. Pickle didn’t want to be strapped in. By the time I’d pushed them both, red-faced and panting, to the enormous hill to the park, neither wanted any lunch because they IMMEDIATELY needed to be pushed on the swings. They did not like the little catherine wheel wraps, which this time last week I could not adequately supply for their frenzied guzzling. Pickle, houmous smeared and in need of a nap, sobbed because she can’t climb up the pirate ship unassisted. Ziggler wanted to go home, have a biscuit, and watch telly. And had she mentioned she didn’t want to ride her scooter? I was hoping we’d spend the afternoon at the park so I wouldn’t have to think of anything else to do, but no. About 35 minutes and 2 bites of sandwich later we were miserably wailing and trailing down the hill to home.
There is a law, and it is thus: The consumption of food by under-fives is in direct opposition to the time and effort invested in its production. Fishfingers and oven chips were invented for a reason (that’s not part of the law, just an observation).
There are lots of things that I wasn’t expecting about becoming a parent, like how mind-numbingly monotonous it can be, how many bodily fluids you have to touch with your bare hands and how psychotic lack of sleep can make you. That your kids mostly don’t do what you want without you having to chivvy and chide and repeat yourself and repeat yourself. I expected my kids to be cute and funny, and they certainly are, but I didn’t expect them to be the kind of funny that your best mate from school was – Ziggler can make me laugh with a raised eyebrow and a gesture and Pickle is quite literally the best dancer I know. I expected myself to be good at discipline but I am actually a pushover – and I like it that way. I didn’t expect my daughters to sing all day or that the three of us would do shows for each other in the kitchen or that I wouldn’t really mind having someone else’s snot smeared on my top. I expected ups and downs but I didn’t expect such volatile variation.
So, what I’ve learnt about my expectations is basically this: Take the fun as it comes. Bring drinks. And expect poo.