Top ten things you will do as a parent that you will not like

You think you won't, but you will.

Like Katie Price flashing a nipple on her wedding day some things in life are destined to happen.

Once you have children you will find yourself doing lots of things that you said you would never do.

If you do not have children or plan on having children please feel free to enjoy this list with a smug aloofness (imagine you’re a member of the Bullingdon Club) and when people tell you that you’ll be missing out when you’re older remember it basically comes down to this:

We’re all going to end up confused and needing help would you rather have your bum wiped by someone who hated you as a teenager or a complete stranger?

Here is my list of things I thought I would never do but ended up doing when I had them there children.

1. You will baby proof your home too soon then spend the next few months unable to get into your cupboards or up the stairs.

When babies are born they don’t even realise that their hands belong to them.

They are therefore unlikely to stick fingers which they don’t know they have into electrical wall sockets.

They are also highly unlikely to be opening the fridge or falling downstairs of their own accord whatever their older siblings may tell you.

This does not stop parents rushing to make their homes as safe as possible. What this really means is that your baby will grow up in an environment where there is a lot of swearing. Those plastic plug socket protectors can only be removed with the blade of a knife and a liberal application of cursing. The stair gates will become a dangerous trip hazard for sleep deprived parents and the fridge lock will leave you unable to access any chilled food. (Top tip: Put a child lock on the cleaning cupboard and never clean again.)

By the time your baby does start to move around and explore the safety measures will have been removed in a cloud of foul language and you will only remember to put the stair gates back when you watch your beloved child bounce down the stairs head first.

2. You will sniff your baby’s bum to check for poo.

I remember seeing parents do this and thinking: Yuk, that’s disgusting. I am never doing that.

It is disgusting, and yes I have done it. Lots.

Even more disgusting is the reason why parents do this.

Let me spell this out as clearly as possible: parents sniff baby’s bums because they no longer have the mental capacity to detect the smell of shit even when they are sat right next to it.

Children are disgusting.

I blame the parents.

3. You will go out to eat and sit colouring in a picture of a man with a moustache making a pizza.

Because when you go out to eat with small children you are given colouring-in kits. (I know, amazing!)

There are two reasons you as an adult will get stuck in:

Firstly, it is good fun to colour in a picture and you are fantastic at not going over the edges.

Secondly, you are too tired to have a conversation with the person sitting across the table from you. You have only left the house because neither of you has the energy to throw beans in a pan.

Think of this as me time. Who needs massages or spa days when you can spend 15 minutes in silence neatly filling in a cartoon of a pizza chef?

Even if it is quite challenging creating a realistic skin tone from 4 primary colours. Honestly how do they expect small children to manage?

(Top Tip: I carry my own skin tone crayon*)

4. You will refer to your partner as Mummy or Daddy.

Even though all the books say you ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT do this because you and your partner will immediately stop fancying each other and you will never have sex ever again. I wouldn’t worry about it. There are many, many other things that will stop you from having sex – number one being the baby (total cock blocker).

Unless of course you are one of those people who looks sexy colouring in (Ooh look I’ve gone over the lines, naughty mummy).

In which case having a baby is going to be a total game changer.

5. You will fantasize about the upstairs deck of a bus.

The top deck of a double decker bus will become like the VIP area of the nightclubs you used to frequent – a place of mystery and intrigue, reserved for people whose lives are infinitely more exciting than yours.

But this is not the VIP area of some hot new club.

It is the top deck of a bus.

And you have a pram and cannot get in.

You have officially the most depressing life on the bus.

No wait…. there’s a man getting on at the next stop who is arguing with a copy of yesterday’s Metro.

Phew, saved.

6. You will announce that you are a parent even when it is not relevant.

When you are not with your children you will feel the need to let people know that you have children stored somewhere else.

God forbid anyone should see you sitting there on the train and not realise that you have a baby at home.

"Can I take that seat?"

"Yes, I’ve got a nine-month-old baby at home."

"Actually I’ll stand."

7. You will shout “Look Cow! Horse! Dog!” every time you see an animal.

You will do this even when there are no children with you.

It is a conditioned response, especially when you are in a car, because this is when you are most desperate to entertain your children.

Travelling in a car with small children is like shaking a can full of soda, one small flick and it will all kick off and everyone nearby is getting a sticky face.

8. You will laugh at Michael McIntyre’s jokes.

Just the stuff he does about being a parent.

You will either laugh because you find his parenting material funny (improbable) or because you are tired and grumpy and glad bad things are happening to Michael McIntyre (more likely).

9. You will reassess what constitutes soiled clothing.

You’ve been wearing that jumper all week but is it actually dirty?

Yes, yes it is. It is a dirty jumper.

Once you have a baby the washing basket becomes less of a place to put washing in and more of a storage receptacle for clothes that are not quite dirty enough.

Vomit and poo stained clothes will forever be jumping the washing queue leaving clothes that are just plain old dirty in laundry basket limbo. Until you decide you need to change and then you will sort through your dirty clothes and refresh them with a baby wipe.**

10. You will drop your baby.

Or, even better smack its head on the door frame in the middle of the night after spending hours rocking the little bugger to sleep.

Peaches Geldof was photographed talking on the phone while dropping her baby out of her pram. I don’t care what you think of Peaches to me she is a fellow mother, a young woman whose own mother was actually pretty fabulous.

And she dropped her baby.

It happens.

This or something like this will happen to you but the good news is there is unlikely to be any paparazzi on hand to catch your moment of shame.

Dropping your baby is not bad parenting. It is just parenting.

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If you have children and find things on this list you haven’t done please leave a comment and let the rest of us know how you managed it.

If you do not have children yet why not make your own list of things you do not intend on doing, pin it to the fridge and cross them off one by one as you watch all your principles vanish when the baby arrives.

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*I absolutely do not do this but I have definitely thought about it.

**This may just be me.

Eeh Bah Mum is a mother of two small children who writes about the funny side of family life. So far she has asked the internet Is My Son A Dick? (Answer: yes, probably) and compared her toddler daughter to Margaret Thatcher. This post originally appeared on her blog and is crossposted here with permission.

A woman in Berlin pushes a cart full of toddlers. Photograph: Getty Images
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Ken Clarke: Theresa May has “no idea” what to do about Brexit

According to the former Chancellor, “nobody in the government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next”.

Has Ken Clarke lost the greatest political battle of his career? He doesn’t think so. With his shoes off, he pads around his Westminster office in a striped shirt, bottle-green cords and spotty socks. Parliament’s most persistent Europhile seems relaxed. He laughs at the pervasive phrase that has issued from Downing Street since Theresa May became Prime Minister: “Brexit means Brexit.”

“A very simple phrase, but it didn’t mean anything,” he says. His blue eyes, still boyish at 76, twinkle. “It’s a brilliant reply! I thought it was rather witty. It took a day or two before people realised it didn’t actually answer the question.”

A former chancellor of the Exchequer, Clarke has served in three Conservative cabinets. His support for the European Union is well known. He has represented the seat of Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire for 46 years, and his commitment to the European project has never wavered over the decades. It has survived every Tory civil war and even his three failed attempts to be elected Tory leader, standing on a pro-Europe platform, in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

“My political career looks as though it will coincide with Britain’s membership of the EU,” Clarke says, lowering himself into an armchair that overlooks the Thames. There are model cars perched along the windowsill – a hint of his love of motor racing.

Clarke won’t be based here, in this poky rooftop room in Portcullis House, Westminster, much longer. He has decided to step down at the next election, when he will be nearly 80. “I began by campaigning [in the 1960s] in support of Harold Macmillan’s application to enter [the EU], and I shall retire at the next election, when Britain will be on the point of leaving,” he says grimly.

Clarke supports Theresa May, having worked with her in cabinet for four years. But his allegiance was somewhat undermined when he was recorded describing her as a “bloody difficult woman” during this year’s leadership contest. He is openly critical of her regime, dismissing it as a “government with no policies”.

For a senior politician with a big reputation, Clarke is light-hearted in person – his face is usually scrunched up in merriment beneath his floppy hair. A number of times during our discussion, he says that he is trying to avoid getting “into trouble”. A painting of a stern Churchill and multiple illustrations of Gladstone look down at him from his walls as he proceeds to do just that.

“Nobody in the government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next on the Brexit front,” he says. He has a warning for his former cabinet colleagues: “Serious uncertainty in your trading and political relationships with the rest of the world is dangerous if you allow it to persist.”

Clarke has seen some of the Tories’ bitterest feuds of the past at first hand, and he is concerned about party unity again. “Whatever is negotiated will be denounced by the ultra-Eurosceptics as a betrayal,” he says. “Theresa May has had the misfortune of taking over at the most impossible time. She faces an appalling problem of trying to get these ‘Three Brexiteers’ [Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox] to agree with each other, and putting together a coherent policy which a united cabinet can present to a waiting Parliament and public. Because nobody has the foggiest notion of what they want us to do.”

Clarke reserves his fiercest anger for these high-profile Brexiteers, lamenting: “People like Johnson and [Michael] Gove gave respectability to [Nigel] Farage’s arguments that immigration was somehow a great peril caused by the EU.”

During the referendum campaign, Clarke made headlines by describing Boris Johnson as “a nicer version of Donald Trump”, but today he seems more concerned about David Cameron. He has harsh words for his friend the former prime minister, calling the pledge to hold the referendum “a catastrophic decision”. “He will go down in history as the man who made the mistake of taking us out of the European Union, by mistake,” he says.

Clarke left the government in Cameron’s 2014 cabinet reshuffle – which came to be known as a “purge” of liberal Conservatives – and swapped his role as a minister without portfolio for life on the back benches. From there, he says, he will vote against the result of the referendum, which he dismisses as a “bizarre protest vote”.

“The idea that I’m suddenly going to change my lifelong opinions about the national interest and regard myself as instructed to vote in parliament on the basis of an opinion poll is laughable,” he growls. “My constituents voted Remain. I trust nobody will seriously suggest that I should vote in favour of leaving the European Union. I think it’s going to do serious damage.”

But No 10 has hinted that MPs won’t be given a say. “I do think parliament sooner or later is going to have to debate this,” Clarke insists. “In the normal way, holding the government to account for any policy the government produces . . . The idea that parliament’s going to have no say in this, and it’s all to be left to ministers, I would regard as appalling.”

Clarke has been characterised as a Tory “wet” since his days as one of the more liberal members of Margaret Thatcher’s government. It is thought that the former prime minister had a soft spot for his robust manner but viewed his left-wing leanings and pro-European passion with suspicion. He is one of parliament’s most enduring One-Nation Conservatives. Yet, with the Brexit vote, it feels as though his centrist strand of Tory politics is disappearing.

“I don’t think that’s extinct,” Clarke says. “The Conservative Party is certainly not doomed to go to the right.”

He does, however, see the rise of populism in the West as a warning. “I don’t want us to go lurching to the right,” he says. “There is a tendency for traditional parties to polarise, and for the right-wing one to go ever more to the right, and the left-wing one to go ever more to the left . . . It would be a catastrophe if that were to happen.”

Clarke’s dream of keeping the UK in Europe may be over, but he won’t be quiet while he feels that his party’s future is under threat. “Don’t get me into too much trouble,” he pleads, widening his eyes in a show of innocence, as he returns to his desk to finish his work. 

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 29 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, May’s new Tories