There I am, reading peacefully on the park bench I chose specifically because it was the furthest away from the children’s park. I’m drinking my latte and my breathing is relaxed; I’m having a great morning so far.
Then suddenly, a shrill blood curdling cry shatters my bubble of tranquillity, my shoulders tense and I flinch as a surge of anger at this horrid disturbance burns up my spine like fire and knots my shoulder blades together. I swing round to try to identify the culprit and come face to face with said mini demon. Fresh from the bowl his unnaturally silky blonde hair sits idly, his head like a closed cup mushroom. His face beetroot red, wet from tears and screwed up like the shrivelled skin on your elbow- useless and kind of ugly. It was as if he had just stepped out from the set of some cheesy American 90’s movie where he plays the king of kindergarten and bullies little Timmy because he wears glasses and likes the wrong sort of comic books.
A few years back my dad and I were on the plane to Antibes and sat behind me was little Wilfy and his mum- you see Wilf didn’t like being quiet and he certainly didn’t like sitting still as my lower spine quickly discovered upon being booted by his chubby little trotter. For two hours I had to sit and listen as Wilfy’s mummy tried tirelessly to calm him, doing everything from bribing him to threatening him, using me as a pawn in her game to tame him. She attempted to pull on his heartstrings by saying ‘if you keep kicking the lady in front you will make her cry, do you want to make her cry? She will shout at you if you keep doing that- the lady will take you and you won’t be able to sit here with mummy anymore do you want that to happen?’ But no, Wilf continued unceasingly in the pursuit of claiming the crown for THEE most irritating brat who had ever set foot on an aircraft. So now whenever I have a jokey moan or an issue with something I am lumped with the ‘Wilf’ title, the new name for someone who is throwing a tantrum of any kind.
It is no secret that children make me very uncomfortable. No on in my close circle of friends or family has ever had one so I have had no experience with them and for some reason my maternal instinct hasn’t kicked in yet. We all went to school with those girls who were just born mothers didn’t we. It was as if they were born wearing floral maxi skirts and sandals, carrying a satchel with all the necessities ‘just in case’. They’d pick someone within the first week of school and mother them, force them under their wing and mollycoddle them as if they were an injured baby bird that needed protecting from the harsh realities of school life. I have no doubt that these women will make excellent mothers, meeting with the others in the park for play dates and making scrapbooks of all the precious things little Susie has done so far, but that just isn’t me.
Are we failing as women because we want to read our books in bed and enjoy the long serene hours of the morning undisturbed? Are we really that terrible not to want sticky little fingers all over our nice clothes? No thank you, I don’t want that biscuit you’ve just slobbered all over and are now waving in the direction of my mouth. I don’t find it cute when you continuously stamp your feet on the metal gate and I don’t care that you can say the alphabet backwards 100 times.
I don’t know, maybe it’s something about the voices, straight out of a horror movie all high pitched and creepy that grate on my nerves, like finger nails scratching down a chalkboard. And the way they side eye you deceivingly as they grip their parents trouser leg, looking all angelic whilst secretly transmitting death threats directly to your brain.
It’s not like I’m dead inside, give me a puppy or any animal for that matter and I’ll melt into a puddle of gooeyness, my voice becoming inaudible as I struggle to contain my love for the little critter. And don’t get me wrong, I have met a few children that I have found somewhat endearing and have been surprised and I dare say touched by their politeness and intelligence. And I have no doubt that I will adore my brothers kids and my own when I eventually have them, but after talking to my flatmate about this we have decided we would like to have children but would like them to automatically be sixteen so we can just have pure banter with them and skip all the nauseatingly sweet stuff.
I just wish they weren’t so noisy, and I wish I could even pretend to show interest in the garbage they spout. I wish their mums would blow their noses so I don’t have to sit and look at crusty snot bubbles while I eat my lunch and I wish they’d provide separate public transport for children under twelve, they could call it the Wilf Wagon or the Brat Bus.