Gender Neutral Parenting

Having watched a telly programme on how important it is to do gender neutral parenting in order to not limit the little one’s life chances and render her nowt but a desperate housewife for all eternity, Mummy has bought her a good gender-neutral hammer-banging toy thing, so she can learn useful D.I.Y. skills and become a strong, independent woman.

Rebel Baby takes one look at the hammer-banging toy thing, passes Mummy the hammer, takes Mummy’s cup of tea and proceeds to watch from behind a tea cup while Mummy bangs all the pegs in. It occurs to Mummy that gender-neutral toys are all very well, but she may not have been leading by example when in comes to breaking down stereotypes.  Whoops…

A second mortgage

It is time to buy The Baby some shoes, as her new-found love of walking outdoors is ruining all the socks.

“What a special milestone!” remarks Mummy as they head to the shoe-shop. Despite the fact there are no other customers in the shop, Mummy dutifully takes a number, because that is what the sign tells her to do. She does not have to wait long for her number to be called.

A trainee shoe-fitter, adorned with a large badge proclaiming her ineptitude and accompanied by a somewhat controlling assistant manager, greets The Baby with a big smile and produces a foot-measuring device. The foot-measuring device is very interesting to Rebel Baby. She does not want to put her foot into it, she wants to get it and have a good look at it. She especially wants to pull on the tapes and tabs coming out of it… but that is not allowed.

As much as Rebel Baby wants to get hold of the shoe-measuring device, the trainee shoe-fitter wants to get hold of Rebel Baby’s feet. Rebel Baby likes playing with her feet and is very delighted someone is so interested in them. She is an excellent foot-waggler, foot-licker, foot-flapper and foot-grabber. What she does not like to do is put her feet into an untrusted device she has not yet had the opportunity to fully investigate.

A great song and dance ensues, with much grabbing, swiping and foot-waggling, which causes the trainee shoe-fitter to be kicked in the face at least three times before an accurate measurement can be taken.

“A 4F!” exclaims the trainee triumphantly, with the air of a wrestler having pinned down an opponent and counted to three. Rebel Baby toddles off in search of shoes to lick.

“Is she walking or cruising?” asks the assistant manager, importantly. Mummy was not prepared for this. The Baby has just walked off in the direction of a precariously balanced high heels display, muses Mummy, she is not reclining on a yacht bound for The Bahamas, cocktail in hand.

“Walking,” declares Mummy decisively.

“Then you need walkers, for walking,” he informs the trainee, who nods solemnly. Mummy is slightly concerned what other purpose a shoe would serve.

“These are our walkers, Madam. They come in sizes blah to blah…. widths blah, blah and blah. Boys’, girls’, unisex, transgender… blah blah… styles…. ankle support, arch support, moral support…. blah blah… cushioned insoles, rubberised blah blah blah…. blah, blah…. start at thirty five to forty pounds.”

Mummy blinks hard. “Come again?” she says.

“Starting at thirty five to forty pounds for our own-brand,” repeats the assistant manager.

Mummy does not spend this on her own shoes!

“What about the cruisers?” asks Mummy, astounded. If the standard fare is so extortionate, she dreads to think what a luxury cruise might be.

“They start at around twenty six,” says the trainee helpfully. “But if she’s a confident walker, she will want something more supportive.”

“Oh no! No, no, not confident at all! She’s a terrible walker! Very nervous… everso wobbly! Definitely cruise-material!” insists Mummy as The Baby proficiently strides around wielding a red patent stiletto she’s swiped from the sale rack.

“Shall we try both?” suggests the manager.

“Absolutely not,” declares Mummy. “Show me the cruisers!”

Several little boxes are brought out and Mummy gushes over the adorable littleness of the perfectly formed shoes. She strokes each one and thinks what a special and important decision this will be, and how she will select the very most perfect first shoes for her precious angel. After much deliberation, Mummy settles on a pair of tasteful navy blue shoes, with a little delicate embroidery and silver buckles.

“Look darling!” exclaims Mummy. “Aren’t these just perfect! Won’t you try them on?”

But Rebel Baby is clutching a pair of shoes to her chest. They are bright purple with silver stars and glittery backs. Mummy does not like them at all.

“Put those down,” says Mummy, “we are trying on the blue shoes.”  But Rebel Baby will not put them down. She is stroking them and kissing them, and trying to put them on her feet.

“Ok,” says Mummy, “you can hold them while you try on these blue shoes.” Mummy slips the blue shoes on and stands The Baby up. The Baby looks at her feet. And looks at her purple shoes. And looks again at her feet. And again at the shoes in her hand.

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” cries Rebel Baby, and everyone turns to look.

“Try walking darling,” coaxes Mummy, “maybe just a little bit. They look very comfy!” But her feet are firmly rooted to the spot.

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” screams Rebel Baby, and holds out the purple shoes to Mummy.

“Why don’t we try on the purple ones?” suggests the unhelpful shop assistant. Mummy holds The Baby while she takes off the beautiful tastefully embroidered blue shoes, and slips on the bright purple glittery ones.

Rebel Baby smiles.

Mummy puts her down and she walks around proudly, pointing at her toes and squealing in delight.

“Looks like it’s the purple ones!” beams the trainee, who has much to learn.

Now, Mummy is twenty-six sodding quid poorer, and the owner of a pair of bright purple, glittery-backed shoes with a naff silver star, in which The Baby can apparently only ‘cruise.’  Rebel Baby is pleased as punch.

“Welcome to parenthood,” says Grandma.

Side effects

Today, The Baby has had her injections and is a little out of sorts.

“She might get a rash or temperature, or have very sore arms and legs,” says the nurse. “Just give her some Calpol.”

Calpol is the answer to everything it seems.  From past experience, Mummy is sure she could take The Baby to the doctor with a partially severed limb, and she’d be prescribed Calpol.

The Baby is not herself, but there is no rash or temperature. Maybe her arms and legs hurt, but she can’t talk so she cannot tell Mummy whether or not this is the case. The only symptom The Baby has seems to be acute sensitivity to ABSOLUTELY BLOODY EVERYTHING.

For example…

The Baby loves bubbles. Bubbles make The Baby giggle. Mummy blows one too many bubbles. IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!

The Baby loves biscuits. Mummy is letting her have biscuits. Mummy is sitting next to The Baby and passing her delicious little apple and cinnamon Annabel Karmel mini baby biscuits with her right hand. Mummy passes one with her left hand. IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!

The Baby loves music. Mummy is playing her very favourite album of happy-tinny-baby-boppy-music that she listens to all the time and The Baby is loving it. The phone rings and spoils the music. IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!

It is cold and Mummy puts The Baby’s coat on. Also her shoes, which she loves because they are new. Then Mummy gives her her blanket, which she also loves but now she CAN’T SEE HER SHOES! IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!

The day continues in the fashion, much to Mummy’s exasperation, and Mummy threatens to sell The Baby on eBay more than once but doesn’t as she’d only have to issue a refund and would still have to pay listing fees and postage.

And so it is that Rebel Baby ends up eating her dinner all alone in the very centre of the kitchen, because being able to touch any of the four sides or having Mummy on a chair anywhere near her was COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Her dinner consists of peas on a tray, because bowls and plates were COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE, and ALL other food was a TOTAL INSULT. Now, the little dictator has got her way and Mummy has retreated to the other side of the breakfast bar. RB is content to first squash and then eat each individual pea, at a painfully slow pace, talking to each one as it goes in.

Mummy is not sure what has happened today. She will attempt to reclaim some form of authority tomorrow. In the meantime, she is scrutinising the small print on the bottle of Calpol to see if also cures despotism. Probably does…


Grandad looks after The Baby on a Wednesday, because Mummy works.

“What do you do with The Baby while I’m at work?” asks Mummy often.

“We go for wholesome walks round the park in the fresh air,” says Grandad, “and visit your elderly Aunt. We have a very lovely time.”

That sounds marvellous, thinks Mummy.

Today, Grandad has arrived to look after The Baby.

“Ah!” says The Baby, her eyes lighting up as she sees him. How lovely, thinks Mummy. The Baby is so pleased to see him! She does love her Grandad so very much. How she enjoys their walks in the park and family time together!

But The Baby is not going to Grandad. She is tottering across the lounge and she has fetched the remote control, which she can only just carry whilst still remaining upright. It is a great effort as she has only just begun to walk, but she is most determined. Now she is heading towards Grandad, the big black remote in her outstretched hands, her face beaming.

“Ah!” says The Baby, and reaches up to hand it to him. Then she turns and plonks herself down in front of the television, most expectantly.

Grandad says nothing.

Rebel Baby is waiting.

She turns and looks at Grandad. Then the TV. Then Grandad again.

“AH!” says Rebel Baby impatiently, pointing at Grandad and then at the television.

“I don’t know what she’s doing,” lies Grandad.

“Busted!” says Mummy.

Boss Baby

Daddy has piles of papers all over the house that he never sorts out. Mummy doesn’t like nagging Daddy, but she doesn’t like piles of papers all over the house collecting dust and curling at the edges. Rebel Baby is on the case. A few phone calls, some creative filing and a liberal application of black biro.

Paperwork = sorted.

Thank you Boss Baby.

Shower needs

It is not always easy for Mummy to get ready in the mornings, as RB likes to glue herself to Mummy’s ankles as soon as the day breaks. But after numerous unsightly mishaps, Mummy now has carefully honed the skill of maintaining her balance and applying mascara whilst a small human swings from her knee caps, so all is well.

In the interest of maintaining Mummy’s sanity, Daddy is supposed to watch The Baby while Mummy has a shower… just like Mummy does when Daddy has a shower. Mummy has a shower every morning, yet every morning, Daddy will act completely surprised that Mummy wishes to clean herself again and – despite there being ample time for this oh-so-necessary of rituals – will look at his watch, huff a bit, roll his eyes and generally make it clear how very busy and important he is, and how everything else in his life is much more pressing than Mummy’s personal hygiene, so she had better be quick about it.

But no matter, for Mummy needs a shower. When Daddy has a shower, Mummy watches The Baby and plays with her and generally continues with life while Daddy has a shower. When Mummy has a shower, Daddy generally has a lie-in and tries to pretend The Baby does not exist. Much as Daddy loves The Baby, his love tends to kick in after about 10:00am and a strong cup of tea. As such there is much scrapping and scuffling, and Mummy’s shower is not quite as relaxing and precious as she would like it to be…


Sea-faring Baby

The deck is dirty and windy, and the deceptive sunshine masks a chill in the air. Other children are suitably clad in shoes and weatherproof jackets. Big Bro is wrapped up and shivering in the on-deck shelter, hood up, complaining about the cold and the wind. Daddy has done his five minutes of fresh air for the day and is looking longingly at the indoor coffee lounge. Mummy is trying to keep tabs on Rebel Baby who is as slippery as a fish, weaving in and out of people and dogs to get to the edge of the deck.

She would like to spend the entire duration of the sea voyage gazing out at the open water and swinging from the rigging, intermittently squealing loudly at the wind and waves, or cackling at seagulls.

There is a choppy bit of water and the wind whips up.

“Are we going inside now?” wails Big Bro from beneath his cocoon of jumpers and jackets.

“I think they stop serving coffee soon…” says Daddy nervously.

“Waheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.!” squeals Rebel Baby, who likes to feel the wind in her hair. Daddy can take Big Bro in for boring coffee. Rebel Baby isn’t going anywhere…

French children don’t throw food

Mummy has been reading a book kindly bought for her on the arrival of the small one called French Children Don’t Throw Food. It was generously gifted to Mummy by her French cousins, who presumably assumed Mummy’s inadequate English upbringing would result in her rearing a food-hurling Neanderthal, and that Mummy would need much help and guidance to prevent total disaster (they were right.)

It is written by a lovely American lady called Pamela, who has dedicated years of her life to discovering exactly why French Children Don’t Throw Food, and subsequently imparting this wisdom to the masses by means of a book.

Firstly, Pam informs Mummy, one should not acquiesce to The Baby’s every demand in the hope of averting a tantrum, but should teach delayed gratification by means of Le Pause. In short, The Baby should wait for things. This seems a remarkably simple and entirely sensible requirement, which Mummy decides to implement immediately in order to stop The Baby from throwing food. There are plenty of opportunities to implement Le Pause, because The Baby always wants something, reasons Mummy. It does not take long for an opportunity to present itself.

The Baby wants Mummy to pick her up, but Mummy wants to put on a bra first. Ah-ha! thinks Mummy. I will use Le Pause! *

The first attempt goes well…

…but Mummy does not lose heart. (In fact, Mummy has been using Le Pause on a frequent and daily basis since The Baby was born, because she is not a super human and sometimes babies just have to bloody well wait for things. Until now, however, Mummy has called it bloody well waiting and defined its purpose as because it won’t kill you to wait two seconds. It seems entirely more classy and educated to call it Le Pause and define its purpose as to teach the important skill of delayed gratification. Mummy has Pam to thank for that.)

At the local baby group, Mummy is talking to a fellow-mum who happens to be French, and happens to mention Le Pause. “Ah, oui!” exclaims French Maman. “This they must learn! But for the little ones it is not always easy!” She goes on to describe how her two year old clamoured for  a piece of her birthday cake at every opportunity… so much so it was put on a high shelf until she forgot about it and it could be proffered without demands. So long was Le Pause in this instance that, when the time came, the cake had gone stale and had to be thrown out.

Mummy is simultaneously impressed and horrified. The commitment to Le Pause is no doubt commendable. But she threw it out? All of it?!

“It could not be eaten,” explains French Maman. Mummy is completely confused. Maybe something has been lost in translation?

Mummy is now working on a book sequel entitled English Mothers Don’t Waste Cake. 



*DISCLAIMER: Pamela suggests using Le Pause to closely observe your baby for a moment, to become more in tune with their needs and thus able to better manage their requirements and avoid unwanted behaviours. Not to put on a bra. But Mummy finds it hard to be observant and think intellectual thoughts without a bra on.