Friday, 26 December 2008

No good parent

I just cannot behave like a parent. The type of jubilant and happy parent required by Christmas. We need a type who does not growl, nor mutter under alcoholic breath as stinky as a dog's backside, Bah! Humbug!

No. At this dark time of year we need a type who springs out of bed each public-holiday morning, strewing spirited toy joy in gift-wrapped sparkle for their adorable young offspring who, incidentally, may be blue-eyed, blond haired, and not arguing.

I really hope this parent exists, the Christmas variety. If they do not, then they are simply the advertising constructs of a marketing director's brain. I may then have been deceived by that image so completely that were I to discover the truth - that there are other stinkyfoulmisery parents like me - then this knowledge would be like so much horrible torture I would have to lock myself in the bathroom, inject drugs, and not come out until Christmas is all over.

So I want you to exist, you happy 6am parents bouncing down the stairs delighting in your children's faces on discovering they possess the latest Destroyer Commando Death game. Please exist and, better still, declare yourselves, so that you can inspire me to carry on. One day, I can always hope, I may be like you.

But there are, of course, certain problems given by a morose and melancholy temperament that I would have to overcome.

First, the antisocial tendencies. I have a reason for choosing any one course of action. Usually, it is the opposite of what everyone else is doing. So if you all want cherry pie for tea, I'll have blackcurrant. And Christmas is no different. Here I am, sensing that there is one acceptably social way to enjoy this turkey-present-singsong-party fest. So sod that.

Worse, we are not religious. I have read the gritlets the nativity story from the children's Bible, and we fell about bemused. What did the shepherds do with those sheep? Did they leave them in the fields while they followed the star? Or did they take the sheep with them? Didn't anyone stop them, wandering off to Bethlehem with all the village sheep? We never get answers to stuff like that.

And then there's Santa. Now we have never told Shark, Squirrel and Tiger that a fat man dressed in red enters the house and leaves presents. Sorry. I never got over my mother's cruel betrayal. And I know some will say I am snatching away the lives of children. You should be happy then that when Squirrel, Tiger and Shark are smacked out on coke cocaine and hanging on street corners I will blame myself, not Santa.

So that gets me to family. Most of the Grit and Dig family have decayed, shrivelled, dropped off and died. The ones who are left are disturbed or dysfunctional, what with living in the attic or flogging harps and evangelism and all, so understandably we tend to steer clear. Aunty Dee will come round in a couple of days. It will be lovely to see her, but we don't need Christmas as an excuse.

I have a lot to overcome, right?

But there's still the turkey. Shit. We blew that too. We're vegetarian. On Christmas day we do baked potatoes. Every year. Either that or baked beans.

And we don't do armfuls of presents. Quite frankly, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have enough stuff. They are constantly having their rooms restocked, resources refreshed. Come on, you home educators, isn't this a problem for you too? Here we are, equipping three gritlets with Playmobil, plasticine, material for a flower arranging project, resources for art projects, jigsaws, dressing up clothes, audio equipment, something, every week, every month, all year round. Because this is how we do home ed. It's Christmas every day, isn't it?

Now I have kicked out the religious stuff, family rituals, food and consumer stuff, there's nothing left but a long holiday. Here we are all expected to do nothing. Except loll around in front of the TV. Which bores me rigid.

That's a lot of anti-Christmas sentiment to overcome. It may be too much. I am lost forever. I can only pretend to be that happy Christmas parent.

But in my defence, I'd like to say that I melt a bit inside when I see Squirrel quietly sat at the table dressed as a fairy in a paper tiara she made herself, slowly writing out words from a magazine to practise her spelling. I am soft and foolishly smiling when Shark becomes suddenly motherly and offers round the apple juice and frets that Tiger hasn't had enough. And then I fall in love all over again when Tiger smiles her shy, shy, smile when we smiled. She didn't scream or hurl plates, she just realised that she said stack when it should have been stuck, and where once this moment would have made a monumental change in emphasis in this household, from happy gathering round the dinner table to uncontrollable fury while hanging from the stairs, today Tiger simply shyly smiles and it is beautiful.

And those moments happen all year round, and not just at Christmas.


mamacrow said...

i was really very christmassy this year. mind you I do like christmas. but the secret to my success?

threatening the lot of them that if they woke me up before 7 I would TAKE THEIR STOCKING AWAY AND THEY WOULDN'T GET IT TILL AFTER LUNCH.

you know, I was really quite fair. I didn't even say 'take it away FOR EVER'.

and hey - it worked :)

bribery and corruption - work (nearly) every time...

sharon said...

Mmmm Start the day with Bucks fizz and some brandy-laced mince pies? Not being a willing 'early bird' I found that provided a bit of a lift or at least meant I really didn't care that much! Gives quite a rosy glow to the proceedings.

Re the menu, NB, my younger son is a roast turkey and ALL the trimmings fanatic, now read on bearing that in mind . Three years ago, because my elder son declined the opportunity to share the traditional family Christmas, he very kindly offered our festive hospitality to a couple of his Uni chums who couldn't go 'home' for the event. OK fine, said I. On December 23 he remembered to tell me that one was Muslim and the other Vegan! Gee that was fun!

Jaywalker said...

That was lovely.

I am the other way. I get caught up in a frenetic hysterical desire to make Christmas the most christmassy christmas EVER, get tangled in a web of sellotape and debt and by midday on 25th have to be put to bed weeping. It's not better, believe me.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to have a Christmassy Christmas. Why not start some other family tradition? So that every year the Grit family has a picnic on the beach + silly games, or goes on a treasure hunt, or has a big bonfire or indulges in a scabble tournament (OK - getting desparate here!) - but you get my point. It is nice to ahve something that you as a family do every year - something the children can always remember. But you can choose anything at all!

kellyi said...

I am with you. I struggled with the festive spirit this year (sorry, I know you wanted shiny happy parents but not happening here I'm afraid.)

Got there in the end though. On the actual day we became vegetables and my mother did all the cooking at hers, so we got dressed at 3pm and then wandered over to her house for a few hours.

I did take the tree down on the 27th December though..... it gets on my nerves.

Mean Mom said...

You haven't made yourself totally clear. Did you have a good Christmas, then, or not? ;0)

The only Christmas times I REALLY enjoyed were those when I was a child, if I'm honest. When my own children were young, Christmas was good, but hard work. I think I'm just a bit lazy, really. Nowadays, I just get annoyed when shops try to brainwash us all, from September to January, into buying even more stuff that we don't need and won't use.

I think that the happy Christmas parent probably does exist, in many households. I find that I can manage a weak smile, if someone makes me a cup of tea to hold and sip. I'm a caffeine addict, you see.

I'm glad that you were able to enjoy the magic of your young children, anyway. Those moments should be savoured. I wish that I'd had a blog to record mine.

Ruth said...

Not too bad here. DD didn't wake up early, some time around 9am when all the adults in the house were already wide awake in fact. There were gifts, although like you I find that the endless buying of 'educational' things throughout the year makes it hard to come up with much except bigger Lego kits and a chocolate Santa. No, we don't do the Santa lie either, are also vegetarian and I'm Buddhist. OTOH an uncle that dd had never met before came to stay for a couple of days with his dog. And decorating is always fun with a 5 year old.