It has oft been said that parenthood teaches us many things – patience, selflessness and that sleep deprivation is a right bitch, for starters. But on top of these more common conditions, being a parent also brings about some less talked about, but just as universal skills and traits. Will they get us far in this world? Well, probably not. But let’s discuss them anyway, shall we?
1. One-armed wonder powers
It’s one of the first skills parents develop. The moment after birth, that helpless, innocent little being is passed into the crook of a parent’s arm – and there it appears to remain, non-stop, for the next two years or so. In the interests of, you know, trying to eat and other useful stuff, the ability to do things one-handed soon becomes an essential survival skill. It continues to become handy as your child grows, when you can put it to use for multi-tasking parental manoeuvres such as the Changing Of The Nappy Whilst Restraining Small Child From Plunging Off Change Table, the Pushing Of The Pram Whilst Desperately Slurping On The Coffee, the Back-seat Car Grope for Errant Bear Whilst Driving, the Removal Of Snot Whilst Holding All The Things, and the Doing Of The Homework Whilst Drinking All The Wine.
2. Speaking of oneself in the third person without irony
I always scoff and titter when I hear celebrities such as Kanye and Usher talk about themselves in the third person. Then I suddenly overheard myself chatting to my daughter in the car the other day. ‘No, you’re not going to the shops. Only Mummy. Mummy’s going to the shops by herself.’ Oh dear god. I am a pretentious twat. I have turned into Kanye West. I am only a few steps away from uttering such Kanye-esque phrases as ‘Mummy is the nucleus’ and ‘Mummy’s greatest pain in life is that she can’t be her own mummy and experience what a great mummy she is.’
3. The ability to fib on your feet
Apart from the obvious quick-thinking skills required when probing questions arise regarding (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!) Santa and the Easter Bunny, (eg ‘Mummy, why does that Santa look different from the one in the other shop?’ ‘Mummy, why does Santa have the same wrapping paper as us?’), I’ve often found it a true test of my creative thinking when I’ve been busted chortling at an adult joke or sniggering at my child’s expense. ‘Mummy, why are you laughing?’ Thinking of something on the spot that would feasibly cause such hilarity is HARD! Once, the best I could come up with was, ‘Sometimes Mummy just likes to laugh at nothing.’ (Damn, again with the third person!) Swift lying skills are also honed when being asked, ‘Mummy, what happened to my special drawing/toilet roll craft/McHappy Meal toy/goldfish?’ Trust me on this, ‘I binned it’ is never the appropriate response.
4. The acquisition and retention of information of which you have absolutely no use or interest
Oh, to be able to return to a time when Thomas the Tank Engine was just some vague blue train with a face. Before I knew that Thomas was the cheeky one, and that his friend James was vain, but lots of fun. Not his best friend, mind you, no, that’s Percy, who pulls the mail on time. (Except for that time when he was broken down and so Thomas delivered his mail for him.) Before I knew the difference between your regular steam engines and your narrow gauge engines, which are of course, completely different to your diesel engines, as exemplified by, well, Diesel (not to be confused with Diesel 10). Before I knew that Accidents Happen, now and again, sometimes just by chance.
I truly hope, for your sake, that you have no idea what I’m talking about. But if Thomas isn’t your area of uninvited expertise, then it’s more than likely you can sing all the words to Let It Go, amiright? Or maybe you can tell me what Peppa Pig’s dad does for a living? Or which of the Paw Patrol flies a plane? Sometimes it feels like my ability to string a sentence together in adult company has been lost to brain space taken up with the above… Still, one day I’m going to be at a trivia night and someone is going to ask what the Fat Controller’s real name is, and I’m going to be all over it.
5. The ability to be a human packhorse
No need to labour the point here. Simple fact is, you will carry more crap than you ever have before. And then your child will ask to be picked up. Somehow, you will manage it. Cos you gots tha skillz.
6. The stealth of a cat burglar
Any parent who’s ever tried to transfer a sleeping child, leave the room of a sleeping child, check on a sleeping child, or prise themselves from beneath the body of a sleeping child, has honed their stealth skills. Whether it means pressing up against a wall to avoid the creak in the middle of the floor, crawling like a wounded soldier along the ground so that no footsteps can be detected or doing the cot face plant to ensure small child has skin on skin contact until they have readjusted to their new sleep surface, it all comes down to stealth. (And a small amount of lunacy.)
What other strange and useless traits have you acquired since becoming a parent. Do you know the Fat Controller’s real name? Do you care?
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