THANKS. OR NOT.
The minute I became a parent for the first time, I noticed that people felt it their duty to pass on any necessary (or unnecessary) information and words of advice. Words of wisdom, lessons they’d learned, things to do, things not to do, who to call, what to read, what to eat, how to eat, how to sleep, how to never ever sleep again ever in your life and what pushchair to buy and how to burp your baby and never burp your baby.
And I think, for the most part, it comes from a good place. Probably. And I’d like to think it’s meant as advice, not just someone’s opinion.
The problem is when you are overloaded with advice and information from family, friends, people you don’t know, parenting websites and health care professionals, it can all seem a little confusing and overwhelming. Or a lot of confusing and overwhelming. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given came from an air hostess this summer, when I was travelling on my own with Finley and Sienna from Norway to the UK.
45 minutes into the journey, I have become a climbing frame, a trampoline, a child restraint device, a kids entertainer extraordinaire, a snot wiper and a champion sorter-outer. We’ve made sure the other passengers know exactly where we are seated, and we’ve visited the teeny weeny toilet twice since the seatbelt sign went off, which on your own with two children is no joke when two of you need a wee, one of you needs a nappy change and you desperately do not want anyone to touch anything at all yet they do because kids touch everything, and you panic and wash their hands again, and then they lick the floor and you give up. The air hostess has been over a couple of times already, offering more croissants and tea (I know, right? Tea? As if I’d be able to drink a cup of tea with a bouncing Duracell Bunny on my knee), when she asks me how old Sienna is.
I tell her, and think to myself “Ah, here we go. She’s about to rave on about how incredibly talented she is in the jumping dept. Or give me a medal for being such an outstanding, I have it all together kind of Mum.” But of course she doesn’t, and instead wonders if Sienna is attending nursery yet.
“No,” I reply, slightly puzzled, “She’s at home with me.”
“You really ought to consider sending her to nursery, even just one day a week. Mmm… Yes.” And then nods, smiling straight at me, agreeing with her own unasked for piece of advice, before she continues pushing her trolley down the aisle.
So. I guess maybe in her time as an air hostess she’s witnessed a lot of families travelling, a lot of Mums on their own with young children, climbing all over the aircraft, chucking croissants at their siblings, and somehow, she’s found that, in her experience, generally, kids who attend nursery, say one or more days a week, tend to sit still and behave themselves better.