Creating life is as mundane and functional as taking a dump.

There are a few moments in life that solidify the passing into adulthood. Realising you probably won’t. Accepting the fact that you didn’t. Heartbreak. Someone close to you getting married. Having a child. A dear friend suffering from a serious illness. Some moments are defining, you don’t usually know that as they happen, but you remember them long after the fact. They shape you, sculpting away at the naive, overly hopeful, time wasting cretin of a ball of metaphorical clay that you are. Hopefully – even though there are definitely people who aren’t – everyone is aware of these moments and treats them with the respect and retrospective fear they deserve. There is a large, stupid part of me that still wants to believe people – as a species – all possess common sense. Some things are just obvious, yeah? Well, no, obviously not, as you bloody well know.

This could well run as a series, and actually probably will, but for now I’m going to concentrate on a subject that I can at least convincingly pretend I know anything about. I’m a parent. Sorry, should have made sure you were sitting down first – or at least a bit drunk – but I am. When I first alerted them that I was to become a parent people would say, “wow, that’s terrifying. I can’t imagine it” and I would retort “imagine how I feel”. The suggestion, of course, being that I was involved in some sort of mystical, world changing miracle and that you couldn’t even begin to deal with the craziness I’m experiencing now if you tried. Thing is, that’s complete bollocks, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret here, one that most people makers won’t want to come out: raising a child is a piece of piss.

For a start making a baby is not only huge amounts of fun (even if you do it badly), it’s also pretty easy. Obviously there are tragic instances where this isn’t the case, but generally, put your pee-pee in her hoo-ha and pretty soon you’re gonna be picking out colours for the nursery and trying to convince the carrier that Optimus Prime is a viable option name wise. Which of course it is. There’s little to no planning, it’s designed to work by nature. No pat on the back, no gold star. You are not a god, you are not The Man. You are just A man. She is just a woman. No one attaches a non existent, unworthy importance to the act of defecating, nobody stands next to you, misty eyed, and declares how proud they are to know the man who curled out such a mighty log. And I’m not saying that the union of two people creating a new life is as mundane and functional as taking a dump, all I’m saying is that, yes, it is. A man with loads of pegs on his face is Guinness Book worthy, the fact that you work as intended and can purchase alcohol for women is not.

Then there’s the basics of the raising the child bit. It’s not rocket science, is it? You feed it, water it, provide shelter for it. It’s difficult not to become attached to it simply through proximity, but in the unlikely event that you don’t like it you still keep the thing going, unless you are an unbearable shit. There’s really no excuse for not being prepared. Folk have popped out folk for a fair old while now and have very kindly shared their experiences, and this has led to what I like to refer to as ‘knowledge’. You are well aware of the act that leads to them. You have heard of the expense. Actually, you were one once, and you’re still very similar to one now. It takes a while for one to brew, you have time to get stuff together, to plan, to think. Or to bugger off. It’s just not possible to be caught out on this one, unless you’re so fat you don’t notice the pregnancy until the thing splashes out while you wait for your kebab, and in that event you’ve already got some serious issues there.

There are exceptions I suppose. There are those who simply cannot bond with their child, those who find themselves mentally damaged by the perceived pressures of parenthood and those who spawn unlovable, irredeemable, utter bastards. Other than that though it’s a clearly signposted road ahead and if you haven’t packed properly you’re a moron.

On the subject of the difficulty of raising your child properly, I’d have to say there really shouldn’t be one. Should you swear in front of your little ones? No, no you shouldn’t. Should you allow them to watch graphic violence? Nope. Is it alright to primarily feed them fast food and sugary drinks? Seriously, are you a complete dunce. Of course it isn’t. It’s all rather straight forward. Conversely it’s very important to remember that your kids are just young and small, not void of intelligence. They understand a lot more than they let on, the cunning swines, and should be treated like fully formed, self aware human beings who are just trying to get away with it. Films and computer games are often blamed for all manner of flaws in children, they are used to explain some truly vile behaviour, but they are used incorrectly. As long as you explain what a film is, and feel that your child has understood the situation, they are more than capable of accepting it as enjoyable fiction. I’m not suggesting it’s ok to plonk little Jonny in front of Visceral Mutilations IV – and if he’s got any sense he won’t be interested anyway – but it’s not a problem to enjoy the complete Star Wars saga with your three year old. Well, the good ones anyway. Or Jurassic Park. Or Harry Potter. Most films are just funked up versions of traditional fairytales anyway, and viewed with the accompanying introductions and explanations of a trusted guardian they are no more harmful than The Teletubbies. Probably less so. Gaming is no different, perhaps don’t start with Grand Theft Auto, but with a few words of guidance there’s little than can go wrong. In fact, here’s an idea: do start with Grand Theft Auto, but don’t let them see you playing it. God no. You’ll be executing prostitutes, running over traffic wardens with your stolen sorts car and pedalling a variety of illegal substances. But if you sit down and play it with your child (admittedly it would be best to mute the sound) and point out that it’s best to avoid running the people over, smashing into other cars or running red lights, it can serve as an educational tool. There’s some fantastic hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness enhancement to be had, as well as some pretty useful laws to be learnt. Just make sure that when you return it to its mother it isn’t talking gansta or squashing police cars in tanks. I must stop referring to her as it.

That subject’s a whole separate post really, so I’ll get off films and games now. Suffice to say it’s not the fault of the tool being used, but of the tool that’s using it poorly. Neither Sky nor Playstation are going to raise your child, and if they do they’re going to do a pretty bad job, but they can be used to interact with your child and as a form of entertainment which, hey, they are.

By all means, have a sprog if you want to. It’s pretty ace. It’s also hard and tiring. It takes up quite a bit of time, which will mean less drinking and sitting in the dark. It does change your life, but only because it quite clearly changes your life. No secrets, no deeper meaning. You own and are responsible for a person, but without the benefits of it being a slave, it’s bound to make a difference. You have to put up with other people, annoyingly mostly other parents, defining you by your child rearing status. You have to seriously limit the time you spend concentrating on the most important person in the world (which is still you). But the good, rewarding, fascinating moments should massively outweigh the crappy ones, to such an extent that you don’t really notice the minuses. If not you’re probably doing something wrong, you idiot. Until they’re a grown up. If they’re basically a grown up and they fuck up it’s probably not your bad. I’m certain that some nice kids grow up to be dicks, and there comes a point – earlier than most people would like – when it’s not because of you. They made that decision in spite of the advice you gave them, wilfully ignoring the experiences you have relayed to them, because they know that they can find out for themselves in full knowledge of the repercussions. Which is, I suspect, when you know you’ve done a pretty good job.

Then you can go back to sitting in the dark.

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