This is my first post as Guest Editor at KidStart and I’ve got to say, I’m a little nervous. Anita Naik has done a marvellous job for the past few years and frankly, her shoes are a daunting pair to fill.
As with anything new though, I know that I just have to call on some inner resource, step right up to the edge of my comfort zone and leap off it, right? Fall or fly, it’s the only way to taste something new. As a parent, I am aware that this is what my kids need to do constantly; try things for the first time. It’s one of the ways kids learn.
Parenting is full of ‘firsts’ but it’s the unexpected ones that have really stayed with me. There are the text book ‘firsts’ of course; the first steps (wobbly) the first words (‘bubble’ and ‘banana’) the first day at school (completely like having your heart trampled on by elephants) but the ones that form my most poignant memories?
It’s things like:
1. The first time my baby tasted the salt of her own tears
When babies are born, their tear ducts are still developing and it is quite usual for them not to cry actual tears until weeks or even months after they are born. The first time I saw huge, salty globules racing down my baby’s cheeks and into her open, wailing mouth was devastating, akin to having someone flatten my heart with a rolling pin.
2. The first time my children met each other
Generally, seeing siblings interact is pretty awesome (unless they are trying to kill each other or force one another to eat slugs) but I will never forget the first time my eldest daughter met her baby sister. You know the bit in the film The Notebook that makes everyone cry? This made me cry more.
3. The first time I found a nit on my child’s head
This moment stands out as being one of the most unexpectedly traumatic ‘first’ moments of my life and marks the beginning of a war that has lasted 16 years. But this is not as traumatic as the first time I found one on MY head.
4. Your child’s first heartbreak
One of the most emotionally draining ‘firsts’ of parenting is the teenage heartbreak. However old you are, your teenager’s angst will transport you straight back to your own moments of inconsolable weeping, of doodling his/her name after yours and wishing on your whole Duran Duran/Take That collection for him/her to take you back.
Argh, the pain! You will come over all tortured like a Jane Austen/Downton Abbey character and want to wave a magic wand and make everything better. Then you will realise you are not Harry Potter or Nanny Plum, or anyone else with a wand for that matter, so you’ll slump into a chair, devastated that you do not have the superpowers necessary to take away your child’s pain.
5. The first time your children realise you’re quite old
At some point, your children will realise that you are not immortal. I was hoping my kids would be slightly upset by this epiphany, but instead they started to discuss plans for my retirement. This includes the promise that they will put me “somewhere comfy with a nice view and flowers and that” and “will do jigsaw puzzles” with me every day.
“Even hard ones with 500 pieces.” Reassuring….