The Good, The Bad And The Buggy

In which our reluctant hero weighs up the positives and negatives of pros and cons lists.

One of the clever boffins from science, Newton Faulkner I think, once stated that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Put simply (and possibly not quite accurately,) opposing forces balance to maintain equilibrium. For example, when sitting down with a nice cuppa and a copy of Take a Break, your body acts on the sofa with one force, and the sofa reacts on your body with another force. They balance and you don’t end up on the floor covered in scalding tea with a soggy magazine. Which is handy.

Opposites. For every yin there’s a yang. For every Sarah there’s a Duck. For every pro a con. Ignoring that the last two examples are not strictly opposites, this week I have decided to explore some of the pros and cons of being a parent. See, we got there in the end.

In no particular order;

Supermarkets
Pros: You get to park in the best spaces in the house. Or car park. Or something. Assuming that there’s not an expensive German saloon, errant white van or old person randomly parked in them all. It is staggering how many builders take their children to Sainsbury’s on a weekday afternoon and forget their car seat. Tut.

Cons: You have to do the shopping with the kids. This isn’t always terrible, just mostly terrible. If they’re not having a meltdown in the trolley, they’ll be needing the toilet, chucking random stuff in or out of said trolley, escaping to the toy aisle or refusing to let you push your wobbly-wheeled nemesis. Shopping with one child is doable. Two? Double trouble.

Crossing Roads
Pros: Be it boy racer or road hog, even the worst British drivers miraculously transform into Mr or Mrs Courteous whenever they see a parent waiting to cross the road with a buggy. They stop and wave you over every time. Seriously, the police should deploy a buggy army instead of stingers.

Cons: It undoes the hours waiting patiently for the green man to start beeping before stepping into the traffic. Cars? They just stop, don’t they? What could possibly go wrong?

Development
Pros: Remember the stack of things that you were rubbish at when you were little? Of course you do. Now here’s your chance to put it right. My two are going to be ace at football, grade eight at the piano, will finish everything that they start like their demos and exciting writing projects (detailing every work commute during January 2012 for example – yes, really) and get actual proper well paid jobs rather than working for the Civil Service. You’ll see.

Cons: They won’t. Your children are the mirror that reflects back at you. Observe them for a short while and you’ll see little bits of yourself. Mostly the bad bits. It’s time to buck your ideas up and raise your game, dads. You can’t have them being better than you at everything, can you? Well, not until they are at least ten.

Food
Pros: Eating with little people isn’t about essential organic quinoa and broccoli rice, especially when in the middle of what The Guardian is describing as a “hummus crisis.” So you can easily justify that plate of Turkey Twizzlers, Smiley Faces and baked beans in the interests of everyone eating the same thing and save the chickpea. Get in.

Cons: I have developed an unexpected addiction to evil processed meat (particularly Southern fried chicken) since my early forties which is as bad news for the arteries as it is for the waistline. I wonder if spiralising an already twizzled Twizzler will help cut the calories?

Cinema
Pros: You get to see, and sneak your friends in to see, films that you probably shouldn’t be popping to see as a grown up. There’s also the option of hiring your child out if you don’t fancy going to the cinema yourself but your friends do. Getting paid for somebody else to babysit your kids for the afternoon? It’s the future.

Cons: It’s just so blooming expensive. Tickets, popcorn, Rola Cola and whatever merchandising tat the kids want as presents for six months after the screening means you’ll end up forking out the takings of a Hollywood blockbuster after each trip. Plus, the kids may call it “the world’s biggest television” but it isn’t. If it was, there would be a pause button for the loo break, finding lost popcorn and adjusting the booster to prevent your little person falling down the back of the seat again. Little bottoms and cinema seats don’t mix. Not a problem that I have any more thanks to The Colonel.

Arts and Crafts
Pros: Don’t let anyone tell you that parenting is all hard work. You can have hours of fun with an old washing up bottle, some sticky-backed plastic and a loo roll. All work and no play makes Dad a dull boy. Put the ironing down and get your pinny on, now!

Cons: Small children, scissors and glue. Hmmm. Assuming no trip to A&E and that nobody is glued to the table, all should be fine. However, once Operation Tidy Up has fulfilled its primary objective, you’re left with another piece of “art” to display. Did you know that we once had a dining room? Meh. You can’t get rid of any of the glittery junk either as the kids know in seconds. My preferred disposal route is to leave it near to the kitchen door until “that gust of wind must have blown them into the recycling bin.” Again.

Time
Pros: You really, really, appreciate any time that you get on your own. Going to the toilet or having a bath should be solitary activities not something involving audience participation.

Cons: Any time that you get on your own will be spent catching up with the washing or ironing. Fact.

Reading
Pros: I’m quite looking forward to reading the stories that I loved as a child again. They may well all be terrible, and some of the Enid Blyton will require creative censoring, but I’m curious nonetheless.

Cons: It may be a while coming. Our eldest, on a good day, may sit still long enough to take a bedtime chapter in. Our youngest still wants the same handful of stories over and over again. “Goat Goes to Playgroup” has recently amassed over a hundred reads in 2017 alone. We’ve all got a goat on the shelf? What’s yours?

Planning
Pros: The penny finally drops that planning is pointless. All plans are going to be scuppered and you’ll end up making everything up as you go along anyway, so why bother? Exactly.

Cons: No planning? Have you gone mad? Even after preparing a two hundred point checklist before a day out, when somebody falls in mud a minute after arrival you realise that there’s no spare clothes. You won’t think of everything, but at least with a plan you’ll have a chance. Planning also helps avoid unnecessary stress. Like stress caused while frantically writing the blog that you swore that you would do by Monday on Friday’s commute home. Aargh.

Right. That’ll do. Copy, paste, schedule. Time to start my weekend shift babysitting the kids.

Fin.

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