One parent is always THE FUN ONE, have you noticed? Doesn’t matter if you’re married or divorced. One is fun, the other is not. Or is “less fun”.
And, I hate to break it to you, I am not The Fun Parent. I know, shocking.
It’s not because I hate roller coasters (I do) or that I’m not cool (I am). Hardy is a 5 year-old boy and he likes cool, fast cars and motorbikes and dirt and talking about bumholes. I do not, but his dad most certainly does (well, he likes motorbikes!) So their weekends are filled with the zzzzzzzzzz whine of dirt bikes where they drive until the sun goes down or they run out of fuel. Very hard to compete with (not that it’s a competition, of course) when you’re terrified to get on one!
I have received vague reassurances that ‘boys always come back to their mothers’ but does anyone know when exactly that happens? 6? 10? 16? 31?
Being the ‘other parent’ is certainly very unrewarding at times. It’s homework, bed time, brush your teeth, eat your greens, no more screen time etc. You’re mostly trying to get them to do something that they don’t want to do – i.e. pushing shit uphill. It’s exhausting.
CAVEAT: I’m not saying the fun parent does none of these things, or that the other parent is never fun, but the two roles definitely exist.
As ‘the other parent’, I recently had a ‘why the fuck do I even bother’ moment. Yeah yeah I’m teaching boundaries and rules and manners and the value of hard work and my contribution counts blah blah blah. But like why me? Why do I have to do this – or be like this – all. the. time?
Some kids in our neighbourhood have carved out a few dirt tracks through the park with little jumps. So, I tried to be cool and go riding with him through the dirt! Yeah mum! So cool. (I have a vintage-style bicycle so this didn’t really work for me BUT ANYWAY).
After he couldn’t get over this one jump, I said to him: ‘go faster and see what happens!’ YEOW MUM IS CUTTING LOOSE!
And do you know what happened? He fucking went straight over the handlebars and cut his leg open. For fucks sake. Don’t try and be the fun parent – someone could get hurt! Stick to your lane, lady.
But I have also come to realise that whilst I’m not at the top of Hardy’s list of awesome people who do awesome things (maybe top 5?), we still have a very special bond. I’ll never forget the moment, he must have been about 18 months old, we were sitting out on the deck and he was munching on an apple. And out of nowhere, he put his hand on my knee and gave it a little tap. Like ‘there there mum, it’s alright.’ Oh my heart! We have little moments like that all the time actually. Like when he recently said I made the best porridge.
So while we’re generally following a routine every day which is boring and certainly does not include motorbike riding, we’re still a dynamic duo and I know that he loves me.
Hang in there, ‘other parents’!
ANOTHER CAVEAT: both parents or carers / all those involved in a child’s life play an important role in their development and their contribution should always be respected and appreciated. To all those in Hardy’s village: thank you.