The problem with having a kid is there’s a very real danger you’ll fall prey to ‘bi-polar parenting disorder’.
This is a little-talked-about disease that affects almost every parent and means that one minute you’re weeping into your take-out gin, lamenting that you’re as clueless as a Swedish detective in a slowly unfolding crime drama, the next you’re bouncing around like a flabby-arsed Tigger believing you have all the answers.
The depressive episodes of bi-polar parenting disorder can be long and difficult. They are often characterised by periods of extreme self-doubt, where even the simplest of tasks, like feeding your child, can lead to worry and anxiety.
Worries like: Will pizza class as a vegetable if you cut the crust off? Does his Bez-level fidgeting at the dinner table actually cancel out the calories he’s consuming? If Vitabiotics know so bloody much about your children’s specific needs, why don’t they make vitamins in beige?
But then your kid eats a piece of broccoli BY CHOICE and suddenly you’re the fucking baby whisperer, casting disdainful looks at families in McDonalds and buying your kid’s school-mates Fairtrade kale energy bars on his birthday.
At this point you have hit what is known as the ‘mania’ stage. Other symptoms may include:
- thinking you are Jo Frost because you got your mate’s kid to put his shoes on one time, even though their kid has ONLY ever refused to put his shoes on THAT ONE TIME, but now you secretly think that they need specialist -shoe-putting-on-help that only you can provide
- starting sentences with “i’m not one to interfere, but…..” followed by so much interference that the WIFI signal in your region goes down
- tutting so loudly and repeatedly when you see a child watching TV, people think you’ve had your mouth surgically replaced with a Geiger Counter
- drinking from a ‘world’s best mum’ mug that YOU BOUGHT FOR YOURSELF
This is when you should probably seek intervention from a trained professional. Left untreated you are in danger of becoming what is commonly referred to in psychology textbooks as an ‘opinionated asshole who thinks they know better than anyone else’. Remember, even Katie Hopkins had to start somewhere on the road to Twatsville.
So even if you absolutely positively know you have some useful advice to offer a fellow parent, unless they specifically ask for your opinion, keep your mouth firmly shut. Because opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, but no-one wants yours all up in their face. Even if it’s a well-meaning asshole. Like Richard Dawkins.
This is going to be hard, because we can’t help having them. (I’m back on opinions, not assholes, in case you’re getting lost… of course if you arrived here because this post now ranks really highly on searches for ‘assholes’ on Google, I apologise for your wasted journey – this post is definitely not the assholes post you are looking for).
It turns out that spongy grey lump of goo in your skull is hard-wired to be all judgy. Right between the narrow slits of your occasionally contemptuous eyes, there’s a bit called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and it’s the bit that controls your emotional reactions to other people’s actions. It’s makes you think that you’re right about everything. Which of course you’re not, because I am.
So how do you keep the affliction under control?
Well, the brilliant thing about parenthood is just as you start to believe your own hype, suddenly your perfect toddler calls a book ‘a c*nt’ at pre-school, and you’re straight back down to Guilt and Despair Central, comparing yourself unfavourably to other people and wondering why your cupboard is full of uneaten Fairtrade kale energy bars.
So the next time you hear someone talking about how their kid won’t sleep through the night, don’t wade in with how you ‘did cry it out’ and now your little Timmy takes himself to bed asking not to be woken before 9am. Just let THEM cry it out. On your shoulder. And know that you are one step closer to taming the bi-polar parenting disorder beast…..
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