In the days before mobile phones, when children seemed to stay children for longer, how having children could damage your health!
I am a happy and contented granny now and can take pleasure in not having the responsibility of bringing up baby. But when I see my lovely adult children I am reminded of the worries that came with the love!
Take, for example, the first time you let them go to the local shop on their own, for instance. It won’t matter whether it’s the only shop in a tiny Yorkshire hamlet or the ‘Eight till Late’ supermarket next to the chip shop on a sprawling suburban housing complex. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing -the cries of ‘but everyone else goes on their own all the time’ or Adam’s\ Wayne’s\Justin’s mum let’s them go even when it’s dark! And I’ve been with the baby-sitter and it’s not fair – why can’t I go? Well, when can I then?’
All these and many more will eventually grind you down, and then with a: ‘don’t talk to anyone and I mean anyone,’ ‘be careful,’ and ‘come straight home’ – your offspring will be running, leaping over the wall or climbing the gate. And you?
Well, let me see now. You’ll more than likely be left sitting on the bottom step of the stairs thinking ‘what have I done?’ Or your heart will be pounding after running up the stairs to see how far you can keep the child in sight through the window – and ‘what’s that car doing at the end of the road? Haven’t seen that one round here before – what if it’s a …. Oh no – not the one time the only time I let him go……. ‘
Obviously you shouldn’t follow even at a safe distance, of course he’s old enough and sensible enough, of course that strange car is only someone perfectly harmless, of course he’ll be back any minute. Of course you should get on and do something. So you walk aimlessly in and out of the kitchen and back to the window. Five minutes! Is that all? The clock must have stopped. He’s been gone longer than that! Yes, having children damages your health!
With that sort of stress and the burst of adrenaline through your body, your imagination, which has possibly lain dormant after few years of Playschool and Teletubbies is running wild – you’ve aged 10 years! Well it feels like it!
He walks back in quite nonchalantly and it’s out with the comic – in with the sweets and on with the TV.
And where are you?
Taking deep breaths in the kitchen, muttering ‘Thank you, oh, thank you!’
In no time at all going to the shop on his own, even going into the city centre on the bus to meet friends, pales into total insignificance when the question of the first real party is mentioned.
‘But everyone will be staying for the whole night, you can’t possibly come and collect me at midnight! No not even 1 o’clock!
‘No you can’t pick John\James\Shayne up at the same time. I’ll look totally stupid. I won’t go then, that’s it. There’s absolutely no point in going if I can’t stay all night. I’ll have no social life, nothing to talk about at school – I’ll be an outcast!’
Realising the last thing you want is an offspring lacking in self esteem and the confidence to deal with any situation that life may throw up at him, you relent to such music to your ears as ‘Oh, you’re the best Mum in the world.’ And perhaps the not so immediately welcome ‘I must have that Levi\ Adidas shirt now and not for birthday/Christmas.’
£40 seems cheap enough on the road to bringing your offspring up socially acceptable, popular with his peers and able to deal with real life situations! Or so you try and convince yourself.
All is well – until that is –you find out that the parents you thought were going to be in the house are not going to be in the vicinity of this party and everyone is taking bottles of cider or Red Bull.
What happens if he gets really drunk, falls over and cracks his skull on the fireplace? Or gets really drunk, passes out and chokes on his own vomit? You immediately see a hundred scenarios like films in front of you. Who’ll be there to save him, to even notice anything amiss if they are all as drunk as lords? You’ve heard terrible stories of parties where Ecstasy is doled out like Polo mints and where definitely your son and heir will dehydrate and dance himself to death. You’ve heard also of parties in the vicinity where those little pieces of paper with the nightmare combination of Mickey Mouse and LSD printed on them are rife. By the time you’ve spoken to Tony’s\Gazza’s\Dogga’s mum who points out that one of the boys going to this party was suspended from school for having too long hair and wearing army boots you have a permanent headache, a depressing knot in the pit of your stomach and fifty more wrinkles on your brow!
As you lie awake for most of the night of the party – having driven past the house once or twice -you find yourself thinking all sorts of strange things. Mainly about teenage pregnancy, cannabis, smack heads and other such words that never came into your vocabulary until a few months ago.
You know worrying the night away never did anyone any good and you suddenly realise how old you’ve got and how young he is. Driving round the neighbourhood didn’t help because short of creeping up and peering through the letter box, you couldn’t see a thing and only heard the loud thumping music!
The long night drags on and then its 11 am the next morning and Gazza’s mum is dropping him off. ‘Thanks for the lift. See you Monday Gaz’.
‘Hi Mum, any breakfast? I’m starving\‘
Having children stimulates your imagination, gives you sleepless nights and definitely can damage your health!