Recently, I found myself in the company of two five year olds exhibiting advanced symptoms of ‘ants pants-ness’ in a public space. Oh, the horror.
My friend M – the mother of one of the five year olds – looked at me and gave me The Nod. Any parent with a child over three knows what that means. Within seconds, we had both done the quick-draw with our iPhones – and within a few more seconds ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Fruit Ninjas’ were working their iPacifier magic.
M then apologised to her friend – a new mother with a small baby, who was having a coffee with us – for our ‘crap parenting’.
“Please don’t judge us too harshly,” she said.
“Oh, no, don’t worry,” said M’s friend and then told told us a story about how she’d recently inherited one of those baby walkers that resembled something Davros, Commander-in-Chief of the Daleks, might sit in. “I swore I’d never use anything like that with my baby and now she practically lives in it.”
“That’s just the beginning,” I remarked. “Next, you’ll be putting the baby in the baby walker in front of ABC Kids on the TV and maybe – just maybe – adding the old ‘rusk on a string’ concept into the mix.”
(For the record, “rusk on a string” is an innovation that sees the rusk, usually tossed to the ground with great disdain by the baby ne’er to be eaten again, is actually saved from entering the 3 second – slash – 3 minute – slash- 30 day rule politics by a string. Think of it as a kind of biscuit bungee jumping. )
“Then, all you need to do,” I continued, “Is to put a straw in the gin bottle nestled into the Baby Bjorn strapped to your chest and you’re free to do the dishes or hang up the washing or answer the door to the Department of Human Services…”
M”s friend looked mildly concerned but her fractious baby soon had her bustling to get home for ‘nap time’.
“Don’t worry,” said M, as her friend prepared for a hasty exit. “We’re not judging you for being a slave to The Routine.”
“Oh, no, not at all,” I joined in. “It’s not like we’re saying ‘Oooh, look at me! I’m [M’s friend] and I have to place my half-swaddled baby in her cot in a darkened room NO LATER THAN FIFTEEN MINUTES PAST THE HOUR’ or anything.”
M’s friend glanced warily at us both, uncertain of whether we were joking or not, but then her baby started to cry and she was out of there.
As we watched her leave, M remarked how she’d wished she’d known her friend was going to leave so soon because then she’d have waited another five minutes before she’d pulled out her iPhone and her friend would have been none the wiser about M’s dubious parenting techniques.
“In any case,” M went on to say.”We probably shouldn’t have made jokes about The Routine or bottles of gin. It’s unfair to fuck with new mothers’ minds like that when they’re living so close to the edge as it is.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I replied. “It’s been so long since I jumped off that edge that it’s hard to remember what it was like before The Fall.”
And then we continued to chat pleasantly with each other as only two mothers whose children are engaged in Zombie Smash warfare can.
God bless the iPhone.