All the Things I’m Not…Except I Sort of Am

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Noodles was having a clingy day. He’d sat on my lap for a good hour at least and although I mentally remind myself that I should treasure the weight of his little body on my lap I needed to go to the loo.

I tried to lift him off my lap and place him on the sofa next to me, whilst maintaining his absorption in the iPad. Instantly he protested and climbed back on my lap.

‘I’m not a chair, you know.’

And then it occurred to me that actually I sort of am. Having had four children I could probably add up months of my life where I’ve had a small child glued to my lap, regardless of what I’ve needed to do. There are definitely times when to all intents and purposes I am a chair.

Following a conversation with my bladder to ask it to hold on a while longer as Noodles re-stakes his claim to my lap, I start to think of all the other things I claim I’m not, when actually, I sort of am.

‘I’m not cashpoint.’
Except I sort of am.

Indy doesn’t really bother to get in touch much when she’s away at university. Or when she’s back, for that matter. She prefers to stay at her boyfriend’s, where there’s more room, less crying and they don’t nag her so much. So, when I got a text from her the other day, it was a surprise. Until I read it:

‘I have a phone bill coming out of my bank tomorrow. Can I have £10 put into my account please?’

Oh.

Nice to hear how you’re doing. Thanks for asking about us all too.

At least it was only a tenner. Compared with the cash we’ve forked out on rent for Indy and baby stuff for Eve £10 here and there is a drop in the ocean.

‘I’m not an expert’
Except I sort of am.

From how to repair a hole in plasterboard to the intricacies of phonics I’ve had to learn it. And then pull off an act of self-confidence so that I can convince others that I know what I’m doing. Sometimes it actually works too. I’m such a parental fraud – most of the time I really don’t have a clue. Just don’t tell Husband or the kids.

‘I’m not a short-order chef.’
Except I sort of am.

I’ve done an exceedingly good job of raising a family of fussy eaters. Boo doesn’t like her food mixed up, so it’s plain and separated all the way for her. Eve doesn’t like ‘wet’ food – no sauce will pass her lips. (Soups, stews, pasta dishes, curries are all out. Although she doesn’t have an issue with ice cream.) And she won’t eat veg. I’m sure she have scurvy. Her boyfriend is just as fussy.

Husband, my dad and myself are far less fussy. I like food and to try new things. If my cooking hasn’t taken in at least three different continents in a week then I’m disappointed.

But cooking to everyone’s preferences is a pain in the arse.

I could put my foot down. But after a day of a hundred mini persuasions, by the evening I don’t have the energy. But I also don’t have the energy to research the perfect, all-encompassing meal every night. So instead I’ll cook up to four different meals. Woe betide them if they don’t finish every last bite after that though.

‘I’m not a mind reader.’
Except I sort of am.

Whether it’s teenage silent treatment, Boo’s uncontrollable sobbing or the incoherent babblings of very small children, I’m pretty damn good at working out what’s up.

Or, if I can’t, I do an even better line in surreal distraction techniques, which still lifts the mood if not actually resolving the situation. It’s a tactic I learnt from Derren Brown, so I’d still claim it as mind-reading as he is the human equivalent of a Jedi master.

‘I’m not a miracle-worker.’
Except I sort of am.

Miracles can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. From tracking down an elusive must-have Christmas present (and then Santa gets all the sodding credit!) to creating a fairy wonderland in our back garden. To getting both Noodles and Boo in bed and settled before I go out for the evening. Especially when it’s before their usual bedtime. And there are no tears. An absolute miracle, I tell you. (All time is relative anyway, so adjusting the clocks so that it is bedtime can work a treat. A miracle-worker and a genius to boot, I tell you.)

‘I’m not Kofi Annan.’
Except I sort of am.

Four children and one husband who like their own way. A daughter and her boyfriend coping with a new baby. My dad just hoping for some quiet, but adding to the hostilities if things aren’t calm. Conflict negotiations have become my speciality.

Except I’m not likely to get a Nobel Peace Prize for my work ‘for a better organised and more peaceful’ household. And I don’t get to quit over the continuation of finger-pointing and name-calling. I have got a Mug with Super Mum written on it though. That’s about the same as a peace prize, isn’t it?

I’m not Superman.’
Except I sort of am.

Ok, I can’t fly and most of the time remember to wear my underwear under my clothes.

But those moments where, somehow, I manage to catch a child as he/she falls off the sofa/play equipment/bed: totally Superman.

‘I’m not a slave.’
Except I sort of am.

My every day. Fetching and carrying. Picking up, wiping up and cleaning up. Whilst others either sit idly by or come home and dump their junk all over everywhere I’ve just tidied. And all for no pay or social standing. Yep, sounds like a slave to me.

* * * * *

Ah, still, there will be time for my revenge. One day I’ll be an incontinent old lady with only a few marbles left. Then the kids can watch their cash slip away as they pay for my care, have to know every detail of whatever condition I have and stand up to care home workers with their expertise to get me the provisions I’ll need. They can bend over backwards to meet my dietary demands (it won’t be hard – just pass me the gin and chop some lime) and then try to decipher what I’m wittering on about. They’ll try to jump through hoops to make me better, calm my tantrums, catch me when i fall and pick up and fetch and carry when I no longer can. I’m in it for the long game and I know how adaptable we can be. How we can become things we’re not.

I just hope I have a marble enough left to make sure I sit on them a lot.

What do you claim not to be, whilst actually behaving as if you are?

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If I’m a chair, then I choose to be this one.

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