Parenting is a weary march from well read idealist to becoming all about getting the job done. From dreaming of your child following their dreams to worrying more for the practicalities of the day-to-day. Trying to stop them smearing banana across their face and wondering what that dark patch on the carpet is. Forgive a quick football analogy, but it’s like parking the tiki-taka dream and going route one.
We started out with big ideas, heavy with theory. My wife read about how French people bring up babies, she even compiled a stack of helpful notes. She thought we’d consult them when making decisions at 3am, in our hour of need. We joined the NCT fellowship and we tried to develop our parenting philosophy – which partly consisted of keeping the precious one organic, and toxic free. We were like opinionated eighteen year olds. We knew right from wrong and could distinguish between black and white. What we didn’t know then was “Events, old boy, events” (as Harold Macmillan may never have said) would somewhat get in the way.
Cue the dilemma around whether to resort to the wonder drug Calpol. To Calpol or not to Calpol, that was the question. The precious one was little(r). He wailed through the night, breast feeding wasn’t soothing him. We wanted to sleep. He screamed for sleep but due to his main design flaw, of not being able to sleep when he really wants to, we were stumped. Colic could be the reason. Get the bottle ready. It’s allowed for colic. The doctor says so. However, we resisted. Maybe we thought it was a gate way to harder stuff. Once you’ve ingested the pink sugar you can’t go back. A slippery slope to dependency whenever his cheeks turn rouge. We didn’t want it to become a crutch, and we felt it said something about us.
It’s a tricky situation. We turned to the rock of certainty that is the internet. Do we want to be responsible for our precious one getting asthma? Once you get past the “experts” opinions there are other parents who leave your head in a spin. As with most baby related subjects people are passionate and certain. Here is one comment from a poster in a well respected forum “So far in my children’s lives that’s been [Calpol] only for severe earache or toothache and that’s after they’ve been told to see how they go for some time first.” Wow. That child isn’t going to blag many days off school. I can feel them tutting at me even if I think about Calpol.
When he was four months we boarded a long haul flight and stashed the magic bottle in the hand luggage ready to whip it out if he wouldn’t settle. Even when the seats around us were vacated the lid remained on. Finally we cracked when in a hot and unfamiliar country and the precious one decided he wouldn’t sleep. Night after night. We convinced ourselves that turning to the bottle was for his own good. Calpol could cure him. Get it down him and I slept like a baby. We now only use it on special occasions.
Now the boys are both teething. Jaw ache is creaking through our house. The precious one started it. He’s been going about not growing any teeth for quite some time. Finally, after litres of spit and rivers of snot, a graze of tooth became evident on his lower gum. What a palaver he created in order to cut this sliver of enamel. His face ballooned up and exploded red, like an Englishman on a seaside holiday. He cried and lay about all day looking a little poorly. My own teething travails started with an earache that soon became searing wisdom tooth pain. I manned up – only mentioning it when people seemed to have forgotten about my quiet agony. I happily (yet riddled with pain) pumped myself with paracetemol and Ibuprofen. I didn’t make myself “see how I go for some time” first. Why did we agonise so hard about relieving the precious one of his growing pains?
This round of teething issues coincided with our ticket to the Bowie Is exhibition. We were supposed to drop the precious one off with the grandparents. We were excited. He went limp and his temperature climbed. Gutted. Calpol. Boom. Half an hour later and he was crawling around the front room, “bah, bah, bahing” at his toys. He appeared back to normal “I think we can go. He’s looking good.” He was riding a Calpol wave but then it broke and he crashed. The fire in his cheeks returned. He slowed down. Damn. My wife didn’t get to go to the exhibition. Calpol was more mask then cure.
Now we’re at the first birthday stage. This means NCT related activities. The fellowship reunited as the women reminisce about meeting when they were larger and full of pre-child nerves. The days when we thought we’d be bothered about having a window in the birthing room. The women didn’t want the drugs on offer. I don’t have the same concerns when I have a tooth taken out. One year on and we’re taking the opportunity to have an extra beer as the children crawl around somewhere. We chat around the BBQ.“Teething?” “Yep.” “Yours too?” “Nightmare.” “Yep.” “We gave her a Calpol dose before we came out. She’s been fine today but this was a tactical Calpol.” Just in case. We sip our beers. It’s been a long year.