The frog, in one of his more humorous moments, sent me a link to a story on the BBC website the other day talking about how Mums lie to each other about the amount of TV their kids watch, how many video games they play; how much time they spend with their kids and presumably how well they feed them, dress them, punish them etc etc.
The article said that the main pressure on us parents is - ta dah! Other parents! Well duh. Isn't peer pressure always the main pressure? I read it through and sadly couldn't sympathise; I have to say we don't have that problem in Brixton; at least not the parents I know.
What we have is more like a circle of condolence. It goes like this: I rock up at nursery about 30 seconds before they fine me for being late. As I'm stuffing Charlie's arms into his coat and prying the nursery helicopter out of his paws, I notice his mate being bagged up by the staff, her coat zipped, her rucksack installed on her shoulders - I ring her Mum who is out of breath and five minutes away; she speaks to the staff, I take the two kids back to our flat and start tea. (Sometimes this happens in reverse and I am the one receiving the call as I puff down the street).
A few moments later, the errant Mum rings the bell and we sit down to confess our sins. Wine is drunk, the kids are left to play with their food to their hearts' content. What, you might ask, are our sins? We work too much. The kids watch too much telly. We shout at them. We feed them things out of the freezer, out of tins and packets. We ignore them, spoil them, punish them, bribe them. We're tired, we look like shit, we're wearing the same things three days in a row, we wish we were better parents. We admire each other, confess more sins and end up feeling... pretty damn good about ourselves, to be honest.
There's no oneuppance here and it's the same whenever any of us get together. We're free to bitch, moan, produce cake out of a packet and expose ourselves - and do you know why? Because we have a troupe of happy, healthy kids.
Yes, they probably eat too many fish fingers, watch too much TV and play too many games on their parents' iPhone but evidence shows they are equally happy to pack about together armed with nothing more than sticks and bits of fabric and make up their own games. They fight monsters, they built towers, they say please, they hug their friends; they sing and dance and cajole and laugh and cry and object to bedtime and lie about their misdemeanours; they fight and tell tales and pick their noses and go to bed begging for more stories - in other words, they're perfectly healthy kids.
They're loved, fed, clothed and warm - they're fine. Who cares if we're not up at the crack of arse making fairy cakes and cutting sandwiches into stars? Who? Who cares about this crap? Whatever we might be doing to them, we've come to the conclusion that we're all essentially the same and that they're probably going to turn out just great.
When I got pregnant I was often told that I was about to join the least exclusive club in the world. Billions are in it already - so, come on, let's be honest with each other. Even you, Super-Mum. You may pitch up at the school gates looking immaculate with a hand-cooked lunch, hold down a full time job and bake award-winning cakes before bedtime but be honest with the rest of us - it's hard work and sometimes even you, my girl, fuck up.
Let's cut each other some slack. We're all shit parents in one way or another and you know what? The kids are alright.