Watching a movie about being a parent, offers an entirely different perspective when you actually become one.
Mainly, it translates into an acknowledgment that the movies lied to us. For the most part, they package it as a veritable ‘rom-com’ of parenting.
The protagonists, the parents, wade through some testing times within their relationship/family life and as a result of some soul-searching (and a run time of approximately one hour and 30 minutes), draw the conclusion that they don’t really have it that bad after all. Which I am not entirely mad at. Because even though it may be overtly saccharine, that’s really what we all hope for; that it will all be just grand and ultimately work out.
I am partial to a ‘tune in and cop out’, offering likened to the above. Yet even though said offerings have attempted to endear the viewer by showing us the ‘real’ side of parenting, there is still too much of a shiny gloss over it for my liking. For instance, the characters in the movie were the owners of a mode of transport reflective of parents of multiple kids. It was essentially a mini-van which looked like it had seen better days. That was until the woman closed the door on exiting the car.
‘Did you hear that,’ I shouted in the direction of Himself who had fallen asleep on the sofa the minute I turned on the movie. ‘The car door! When she closed it, it sounded like she was closing the door to a 2019 model. Remember the Scenic?’
‘How could I forget it.’
You see, something else that is glossed over in relation to parenting is the cost. Specifically, the financial cost. Like many, our cash flow was considerably compromised when we had children. But we also needed a new car. Which we could not afford. So, we plumped for a second hand option from a dealer who saw us coming and sold us what would become the money pit. Enter our Renault Scenic stage left.
It sucked our finances, our good humour and our dignity. Every month presented a new problem. Such was its unreliability that when trying to will it up any sort of incline, my then three-year-old would shout words of encouragement from the back seat, ‘C’mon car… you can do it!’
Closing the door almost involved industrial quantities of WD-4O to ease its moans and groans. Hence, my ire directed towards the screen as the obvious doppelganger to the Scenic could have given the new Tesla a run for its money in the smooth operating stakes.
Like anything, once you start noticing seemingly innocuous details, they suddenly begin to multiply. So, asked I people online, ‘What is the greatest lie the movies every sold you about being a parent?’
They say, ‘Retribution is swift’. I beg to differ. Nothing is more rapid than the responses on social platforms when the topic of parenting is broached. The replies, unlike the long departed Scenic, came in hard and fast.
‘You simply say ‘Goodnight’ to your child and they take themselves off to bed and go to sleep.’
Everyone knows that come bedtime, your kid suddenly becomes busier than the middle aisle of ‘Special Buys’ on a Thursday in Aldi.
They need to do all of the things, right now and need multiple glasses of water to do so.
Which leads us to…
‘You read them a story and they fall straight to sleep.’
They fall asleep anywhere other than the bed. The car, the sofa, at the dinner table… all appropriate places for 40 winks. The minute you expect them to lie horizontal? See previous comment.
‘That kids would go and play long enough to harbour an alien but they won’t give me 30 seconds to use the loo.’
There was a myriad of others in relation to childbirth, the new-born phase, single-parenting etc. But possibly the greatest fib we were ever sold was the following, ‘That if you left your kid ‘Home Alone’ for a weekend he would be grand’.
I know my kids would most definitely have torched the gaff and not developed a whole new set of life skills.