Non-parents, as a breed, are people who haven't got children, don't want
children, and have absolutely wonderful child-free lives. They're the sort
who just swan out to the shops on a Saturday morning without having to make
plans equivalent to the movement of NATO troops around Europe. The ones who
cheerfully wear white blouses and shirts, confident that no one's going to
puke down them, and can say at the drop of a hat "lets go to the pictures
Non-parents, regard nappies on a par with nuclear waste dumps .. something
they know exists but have no wish to be within several miles of.
Non-parents have pastel-pink carpets and cream coloured sofas, and do crazy
things like keep booze and record collections in floor level cupboards,
precious ornaments are kept at tempting just within reach positions.
Non-parents just don't want to know about children and hands-on experience
anyone under 12 years is more scary than Mike Tyson on a bad day. Faced
with a gurgling bundle, they become stiff, scared and tongue-tied, as if
the wee one needed intelligent conversation instead of simple clucking and
Well that was us to a tee, especially when we were at a party, although it
was only an informal one, we had just finished our "take-away meal" when our
friend did something so terrible I hardly dare tell you what it was.
...OK...I will, if you insist... She changed her baby's diaper right there on
the living room carpet. Anyway it was at that point that we stopped fancying
vegetable biryani and became determined to stay non-parents. We didn't want
kids, and weren't going to have any, and even if we did have one we'd never
change it's nappy on the living room carpet.
Then....you've guessed it....we had a baby. Of course we tried to keep the
promise about carpets, but it wasn't easy. Sleep deprivation is a very
effective form of torture practised by terrorists and new born babies.
After a few weeks of it we would have quite happily changed a nappy in
front of a capacity crowd at Wembley. When you've been feeding every 2 hours
all night and changing about 10 nappies a day, the last thing you worry about
is offending some confirmed non-parent, who's supposed to be a friend.
It has to be said and there is no doubt about it. The arrival of a small
baby on the scene can test the best of friendships. As you struggle through
the day mopping up smelly messes, it becomes hard to remember the time when
you, wore dry-clean-only clothes and thought that 5.30 am was a time for
going to bed rather than getting up. You soon learn to take your pleasure
as and when you can......
That reminds me of the story of two women having a chat, while the child of
one of them empties a kitchen cupboard and sits on the floor bashing two
saucepan lids together. The childless friend, fed up with having to shout
at the top of her voice to make herself heard above the din, eventually
asks, "Should she be doing that?" The tired mother replies, "Not really,
but at least it keeps her quiet".
Then there is the time when you get invited to the Non-parent's house
and the inevitable happens - blackcurrant juice on the cream-coloured sofa
pulped smarties on the pastel-pink carpet, a tiny chip on a family heirloom..
They mutter through clenched teeth that "it doesn't matter a bit", while
wondering why you haven't been banned from adult society for the next 15
Trying to get non-parents round to your way of thinking by inviting them
around for a conversation about weaning, potty training, sensitive
disciplining and tantrums can tempt a child-free friend into telling you
their own, very blunt views on the subject.
Sometimes, of course, you do find a wonderful non-parent, a real friend who
doesn't hate kids, and who is quite prepared to roll around on the floor or
rattle things until your grumpy tot turns into a little angel.
Still with all our experience we have found the best way to deal with people
that believe that children should be seen and not heard, or preferably
brought up somewhere else, is to pick up your grubby, runny-nosed offspring,
preferably after they have eaten a chocolate biscuit, and tell them to give
auntie/uncle a great big goodbye kiss.
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