Agentnaz's Blog

Modern Prufrock. Conjurer of Woes and Worries.

Category: parenting


The Great Outdoors is lovely. When it stays where it belongs – Outdoors.

Camping is supposed to be about getting away from it all. The problem is knowing which bits you need to get away from, and which bits you need to take with you to stay alive.
In my minds eye it was a pastoral triumph. Who needs electricity in the glorious sunshine and splendour of the unspoilt outdoors? Just stuff a few things in the car and hit the road. Cast off the things you own, before they own you, right?

Fast forward to the horror of a 5am toddler tantrum and being 6 hours away from any chance of a cup of coffee. Heads rolled, I can tell you. Actually eyes rolled and some tuts were heard as my language darkened and my own behaviour began to rival that of the toddler. I wondered how long it would be before I was eating instant coffee granules straight from the jar.

Pretty soon I began to cast an envious eye over the camps of those I had hastily labelled as freaks and nerds when we first arrived. ‘They’ve got a satellite dish!’, ‘what are they planning to cook on a BBQ that big?’,and ‘that’s not a tent that’s a Serious Incident Exclusion Zone’ – all words that I would have gladly eaten – if I had something to fucking cook them on.

The item most noticeable by it’s absence though was the Naughty Step. Yes, the Naughty Step is ultra-portable, being a concept rather than a thing, but there are places that it can’t go. At home the power of the Naughty Step is awesome. Whenever it’s authority is questioned, you can dig in and ride it out, safe in the knowledge that, as much as you’d like one, you’re not constrained by having to have a nap every 5 hours.
Even in a crowded shopping centre, there is already no shortage of kids crying and the general background hubbub of shoppers shuffling in and out of stores and restaurants, and trashy club music being pumped out of clothes shops, means you don’t have to worry too much about about an extra tantrum in the maelstrom.

But in the pure stillness of a touring park campsite, the Naughty Step is suddenly drained of its power. The child knows this already – you can’t help revealing it in your voice. You find yourself breaking all the protocols and procedures – issuing countless offers of compromise instead of the single firm warning that carries so much authority elsewhere, doing anything to avoid the possible ordeal of having to re-enforce the whole process. Eventually it’s too late, something has to be done, and the Naughty Step that you’ve set about undermining for the last half hour is suddenly all that’s left. You curse yourself for not just having bloody done it in the first place. Now you know you’re in for at least an hour of pure toddler vexation and outrage, a battle of wills that is normally best carried out within four walls. The banshee screams of your precious offspring are carrying for miles. Wind breakers are being peered over, caravan curtains twitched and sunglasses raised, as your personal little hell gradually but surely becomes the centre of the universe. Where the hell do you go? Back in the tent? Behind the tent? Next to that tree over there? All of a sudden it feels as though everyone on site has X-ray specs, and can see you no matter where you go.
Of course 1 minute of quiet success was eventually achieved and the horror didn’t last forever, but it did involve the pushchair, a long walk, ignoring some signs about blah-blah-bulls-blah-blah-etc, telling a cow to fuck off, and a strong drink afterwards.

I have since learned that the car is a lot more sound proof than I had realised.

There we’re bits I enjoyed of course. Sitting around chatting, looking at the stars, reading a book for a little while – all of which took place while the kids were asleep and I could have done at home anyway.

Maybe camping just isn’t for me eh?


Good Morning Tombliboos

Right now I’m being subjected to a very (VERY) early morning screening of an ‘In the Night Garden’ DVD. It’s a fantastic program because it’s the only thing in the world that snatches my daughters attention away from me for a random few seconds at a time.If I suffered from micro napping this would be perfect. I could sleep every third or fourth second and pretend to be interested in Macca Pacca washing his sodding stones in between. We’d all be happy.

Unfortunately I don’t suffer from an exotic sleeping disorder. Just a mild form of modern nihilism, and just generally being a parent. There’s also the cat, but that’s a whole separate tome of misery on its own, on which I’ll elaborate another time.

I have not slept much in the last couple of years. I have a 19 month old daughter.
I’m beginning to think these two facts may be connected somehow…

When you really need sleep, there’s rarely just one thing that prevents you from doing so. Things conspire and unite against you, to ensure your sleepless night is written in stone before u even climb the stairs.
Mostly my daughter, often the cat, sometimes my own frantic inner dialogue.
Research apparently shows that lack of sleep can have a profound psychological effect and has even been linked to mental illness. Logical reasoning, mental arithmetic, decision making and memory all suffer demonstrably from lack of sleep.
So exactly how is one meant to function without sleep? There’s plenty of advice (and products) geared towards helping you get more sleep, but what about when that’s all a pile of crap because you live your life in the real world and not in a bloody magazine rack? What’s really lacking is some good solid advice about how not to lose your job when you can’t speak without dribbling, how to walk to work with your eyes closed and above all, how not to go mental and kill everyone.

I try to snatch any quiet moment I can for myself. These moments are few and far between when even a trip to the toilet usually involves being accompanied by a small child.
The few minutes I have on the train each day are almost entirely consumed with making sure I don’t drift off into a surreal dream world because if I do, I will almost certainly miss my stop, and introduce an extra layer of strife and anxiety into my already frayed existence.

The things that bring me peace are playing a musical instrument, reading, and writing, and it’s precisely these things that I’m struggling the most to fit in. I know if I could work these back into my life, I could swing the balance back into some kind of stability. Even more than sleep, I crave the time and space it takes to be able to this.

In the end it seems that sleep isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything. What it comes down to is the quality of the time you have to yourself. If you find yourself on your own, and still just thinking how shit everything is, well, you have only your own company to blame.