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The Parent Trap

First published in Loveawake blog, exclusive to HuffingtonPost

Being a parent sucks worse than a meteor strike on the ISS. That just slams you against the wall and eventually stops you breathing. Children, on the other hand, sap your will to keep on breathing.

First, there is pregnancy. Ha, what do guys know about being pregnant? We know that sleeping next to a damned furnace with an independently minded belly that randomly kicks your kidneys in the middle of summer is uncomfortable. Not to shave with an actual bladed razor or you wind up bleeding copiously as you are shoved out of the way during the frantic morning dash to the toilet. That while they all sell chocolate, very few 24 hour gas stations sell both pecan ice cream and sauerkraut.

Then comes birth. I really envy my Dad. In his day, the father was confined to the waiting room. chain-smoking and pacing worn circles in the carpet. Sure, it is a nice thing to be there for the miracle of life - until you see a replay of the chestburster scene from Alien, but instead sliding out of her tunnel of love covered in slime and blood and chased by probably the grossest thing you have ever seen. The placenta, still quivering. Honestly, I have thrown up prettier things than that.

And the first look? Have you ever seen a newborn? Bright red, wrinkled, and frowning once the snot plugs get ejected from their nostrils and it has stopped screaming. Then the realization sinks in. This thing is your problem for the rest of your life.

After long and intense reassurances by the nurses that, yes, this thing is actually human and your child, not some fell beast from mythology, you take it home and learn that nurses and doctors lie.

You don't sleep for months. Babies are telepathic. That is the only way to explain how they wake and start to scream almost exactly 10 minutes after you finally fall asleep. Every bloody time. You get a thump from your partner, who cuddles up under the covers and says "I had her all day, your turn."

They fill their diapers with toxic goo, then wait to have a pee until the diaper is off and they are aimed directly at you. The charmingly coyly named "spit up," in fact an ejection of whatever is in their stomach at the time, only happens when you are wearing a suit or your favorite shirt. Or late for work.

You get a brief period of peace when they start sleeping through the night. I say brief, because it lasts about a week before they learn to crawl. You start wondering if your partner maybe had a fling with The Flash, because put a baby down, blink and it is in the next room wreaking havoc on whatever it can reach. At this stage your kid has motor skills that Asimo would laugh at and it still manages to cause chaos. This normally co-incides with the babbling stage. More of a slow torture than a panic, this, because you listen and it almost makes sense.

It gets worse. By the time they are walking, every single thing in your home had better be made of iron or suspended from the ceiling. And they will work out a way of getting at anything suspended from the ceiling. Child locks on cupboards? Childproof caps on bottles? Ha - you wish. Don't let their sweet, stumbling steps fool you. They are all Olympic sprinters when you are not looking.

Then comes the "no" stage. Your kid, not content with being the avatar of chaos, becomes self aware. Self awareness, to AI programmers, is defined as the point when the being effectively says "What is in it for me." To a child it is a rejection of everything. No reason, just because. Prepare them their favorite meal, which at this stage seems to be spaghettios, and they react as if it is arsenic and ground glass.

The "mine" stage makes you cross The Flash off the list of suspected fathers and replace him with Gordon Gekko, though this strange mutant you are raising makes him look like a piker. Eventually you get through it. Your baby starts school, reading, can talk and understand when you talk back.

Enjoy your peace. In 8 years, when they become a teenager, you will look back on this as Easy Street.

This work by Alex Wise is licensed under a La Media Ltd


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