Sunday, 17 April 2011

Bringing up kids - it's a doddle. Part 2

It’s a cliché that real life can be stranger than fiction, but it’s still surprising to find it confirmed by personal experience.

Some weeks ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about how easy it is to adapt to life with children. So it was amusing to overhear a train conversation between a recent parent and a soon-to-be new parent which demonstrated just how easy the arrival of a child could be.

Let me point out in passing that it’s not insignificant that both were men.

If you can conjure up ‘estuary English’, then please read the dialogue below in a pronounced form of that accent. If you don’t know that variety of English, spoken on either side of the Thames Estuary, imagine lots of flattened vowels and glottal stops. Add to the mix the fact that there are connotations to the accent, and the stronger it is, the more powerful they are. For instance, it's probably wiser to get a used car checked out by a reliable third party before buying one from a speaker of advanced Estuarine. Which is ironic, since one part of the dialogue I overheard went like this.

‘Yeah, just keeps conking out and then it takes ages to get it to start again. I’m going to have to buy a new one. I’m thinking of going for a five series this time.’ The BMW is, naturally, the trademark car of this group of people.

‘Oh, it’s a great car. You’re going to be really pleased with it.’

‘But then I have to decide what to do with my current one. I don’t think it can be fixed.’

‘Sell it.’

‘You think so?’

‘Yeah, why not? Sell it cheap. They can get it repaired.’

‘Actually, my sister-in-law wants it. To come and see us. There’d be hell to pay if she broke down on the way.’

But I anticipate. The conversation started when the one I think of as Man 2 flopped down in the seat next to me, opposite Man 1 who was working on his laptop.

‘Hey, how are you?’ said Man 1. ‘Good to see you. How are things going?’

‘It’s mental [think ‘men’al’]... so much to do...’ replied Man 2, ‘I felt I just had to take the time to clear my head...’ From the smell of his breath, clearing his head meant clouding his judgement.

‘I suppose you have to be getting into baby mode.’

‘Oh no, he’ll be asleep by the time I get back... hey you must be getting ready yourself? When’s yours due?’

‘Yeah, the 24th... I’m getting terrified... did it change your life a lot?’

Pause. ‘Naah... people say things will change... but basically you just cope with it, it’s cool...’

‘So – how old is he now?’

‘He’s four months in four days.’

‘Wow – keeping you awake at night is he?

‘I didn’t wake up till 6:30 this morning.’

‘You mean – he’s sleeping through?

‘No, but he’s breastfeeding’

‘Oh, ri-i-ight,’ said Man 1 knowingly. ‘So, you’re off the hook. Now I see why you’re always looking so fresh.’

‘Yeah, it’s good. Bit tough on Roberta, what with all the baby walking classes, baby gymnastics, baby swimming and so on. Still, gets her out of the house. And it’s nice for her to meet the other mums.’

So that’s the answer. What you need is a Roberta at home. Then she can have lots of fun with the other Mums as she looks after baby on her own, you can come back to find baby already asleep after your hard day’s work in the drinks industry (wasn’t it inevitable that they were in that particular branch?) and turn in for a restful night safe in the knowledge that if baby wants feeding, Roberta will be there with her built in milk-delivery equipment.

The essential household appliance to ease
the strain of young fatherhood: a Roberta
See? Like I said, having a baby need barely change your life at all. Really.


Malc said...

The thing is one doesn't 'bring up' kids. They bring themselves up. The 'adult' should better concentrate on making this planet a better place.

Anonymous said...

The cartoon characters reminded me of a couple I once knew when I lived in Dunstable.


David Beeson said...

San, always good to have a friend who punctures one's sense of moral superiority. And you do it so well...

David Beeson said...

Malc, in my experience kids require, and demand, a hell of a sight more than implied in your comment. Let me just say that if you want to understand just how much of an epic 'The Lord of the Rings' is, try reading it as a bedtime book to sleepy kids over a two-year period.

As for making the planet a better place, I'm not as ambitious as you are. I feel if I can bring a little entertainment into a child's life, perhaps by reading him 'The Lord of the Rings', I've achieved about as much as I can in the way of improving the planet.

Anonymous said...

My comment was in fact an homage to Danielle's tireless qualities, but if you took it as a a dig at your sense of morality, then it serves as a good example of killing two birds with one stone.


David Beeson said...

And these avicidal inclinations of yours - we're to regard them as healthy, are we?