I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

In which our reluctant hero finds himself going off on one, before getting a grip and starting again.

I started my scribbles for this week’s post on Wednesday morning with the words “It has been a slow news week.” Later in the day, reports of a supposed terror attack on London started filtering through, news that would dominate the media for rest of the week.

Sadly, this appears to be another indication that we are taking another backwards step as a society. Intolerance and extremism of all kinds, social inequality, homelessness, food banks, Trump, the Brexit debacle, a slow creep of far right rhetoric into mainstream media, the unnerving feeling of a push to divide and conquer.

Tonight is Comic Relief night, and those watching will be further reminded of the global problems that seem a world away from us here in Britain.

It’s 2017. We shouldn’t have to worry about this. These should be times of peace, fairness, inclusiveness, equality and opportunity for all. But they are not. Something has gone wrong and, at some point, I’m going to have to attempt to explain it to my little people. Thankfully not today.

But enough of the gloom. If you’re a first time reader and have got this far, well done. My little blog isn’t normally like this, I promise. So, time to cheer myself back up. And you, with a bit of luck.

What I should have started writing is “It has been a slow parenting news week.”

OK. Time to start again…

In which our reluctant hero accidentally stumbles upon the answer to the ultimate (parenting) question.

Things have been fairly standard at home. Our little people have been doing what our little people usually do, asides from a significant increase in card production ahead of Mother’s Day. They have also been honing their card hiding techniques which, seeing as I’m in work appraisal mode, should be assessed as “Improvement Needed.” So, no pocket money increase (or indeed pocket money) for them then. In many ways this mirrors my own situation as a public sector worker.

There’s been even less happening in parenting news across the Interweb. The same six blogs that every parenting blogger writes about are still doing the rounds and are still terrible. If struggling for writing inspiration, I often turn to the parenting section of Google Newsstand to help spark an idea, but most of the articles there are as bad.

After skimming through a few of these, I decided that it would be more interesting (and fun) to try to guess the content from the clickbait-ish headlines.

Here’s a random selection from the first few finger swipes made on my portable telephone. I bet that I’m right too.

8 Things You’ll Want To Say To Your Mom Friends About Their Parenting But Don’t, Because Friendship
These sort of articles are always a little passive aggressive without being too offensive. I’ll wager that four of the eight will infer stop bottle feeding, stop breastfeeding, stop giving your child a dummy, and stop letting them watching Frozen all of the time. There won’t be anything true to life, like “stop your child attacking my child thank you very much” or use of the word “of” if the headline is any measure. Tick.

Mum Shares Hilarious Parenting Hack That Allows Her To Leave The Room Without Baby Noticing
Phones and tablets aren’t hilarious. This will probably involve a Skype call from the kitchen or sticking a scarecrow in a dress in the living room. Or both. Hilarious. Tick.

Your Child Is Not Your Confidant
Let me think. Some long-winded melodramatic guff about the guilt of unloading onto your offspring, concluding that it doesn’t matter anyway as they won’t understand until they reach the age of two. Yes? Tick.

You Don’t Have To ‘Cherish Every Moment’ To Appreciate Your Children
Too right. And you won’t. End. Of. There’s nothing worth adding after writing the title down, so stop there. Just like I should have done. Tick.

Once kids enter the picture, can parents still entertain?
Yes, assuming that your little people are asleep when your guests arrive and that they aren’t members of a travelling heavy metal band or satanic cult. The latter applies to both the kids and guests. Tick.

Dad Spends 3 Days Building Elaborate Contraption To Announce Baby’s Sex
Three days? What was he playing at? I cunningly planned and delivered our littlest person’s name and gender reveal by simply taking a camera to the hospital, stopping at the shop to buy a bottle of cola with his name on, (like they did in 2014) on the way and taking a snap. Genius. If it has taken this guy three days it’ll need to be good. I’m genuinely stumped, but I’m guessing there’s a new Wallace and Gromit film going to be franchised as a result. Tick.

The Funniest Tweets From Parents This Week
My guess? They’ll all be rubbish. Have you met any other parents? Exactly. Tick.

Employ Me, I’m A Parent!
The author may decide to play with the content a little with witty anecdotes about how managing staff is like dealing with kids all day (ho ho) and suchlike. However, this is more likely to be someone-or-other trying to justify that nappy changing skills are comparable to those needed to negotiate international trade agreements (I’ve set it up, so feel free to mentally insert your own punchline… ) and so on. They’re not. Tick.

Put my phone away at the school gates? But then I’d have to engage with my child
Yes, you would and you should. Whatever you’ve written, it isn’t going to make you look good, is it? Hang your head in shame. Tut. Tick.

Having children means less sleep – and the other parenting truths you don’t a study to tell you
You perhaps don’t “need” a study to tell you this, Daily Telegraph? It’s true though. Most things parenting-wise are pretty obvious, and there’s always YouTube to help you find out anything else if stuck. Tick.

Clueless Millennial Dads Are Flocking to YouTube to Binge-Watch Parenting Videos
Oh. Let me rethink the last one. Of course they are, as they were born after the year 2000 and have probably never seen an actual book. And, let’s face it, there’s worse things that they could be watching on YouTube, most of them involving Kinder eggs. They may be useless, but at least they’re trying. Which is also likely to be true of the article.

And then I came to this, published by someone or something called “Mint.”

“The only thing you need to know about parenting.”

Ah. Clickbait at its very finest. What could it be? Can I justify taking a quick look, if for no other reason than to share this key information with the Millennial dads to help wean them off YouTube.

Yes, I should have known better, but I clicked. It’s sometimes impossible to resist.

Fortunately there was a tagline that made the rest of the article superfluous. The Holy Grail condensed into a single sentence. The one piece of advice that will tell us everything. We can empty our bookshelves and delete YouTube off our phones for good. Oh, if only that was possible on Android.

And here it is…

Stop reading parenting how-to manuals and instead take your child out to the park and spend some quality time with her.

Is that it? A simple trip to the park and all parenting problems disappear? Blimey.

We take our two to the park practically every week and, nice as that can be, it isn’t the cure-all that the article, albeit the preview, suggests.

But hang on. It says “her.” We have a girl and a boy so perhaps that’s the problem. It may only work for girls. So, if I take our son down the park too do I need keep the parenting books?

Rather than all this guesswork, maybe I should have just read the whole article, that the poor author probably sweat blood putting together, instead? Nah, nobody reads blogs these days. I’ll look it up on YouTube.

Fin.

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