When You Realise All Parents are Dicks

Now first things first, don’t take it personally, I’m not calling you a dick.

OK, I am. But it’s OK, because to you, I’m a dick too.

We’re all dicks.

I spent this afternoon in a building the size of an aircraft hanger in the arse end of fucking nowhere rather dubiously named the Fun Factory for a birthday party. Which is fine, as long as you class the Hunger Games for under 10’s with added hysteria, plenty of padded foam so the little ones can give each other frontal lobe damage with and ridiculously marked up refreshments as erm, fun.

May the odds be ever in your favour, kiddo.

Yeah, it’s a soft play nightmare. Run by teenage staff that send daggers into your very soul while they serve you a thimbleful of shady latte that costs over two quid and you decide it’s probably wise to not ask whether they have any contraband booze under the counter.

There’s a vast seated area where spectators parents can sit and watch pandemonium unfold and judge whether their kid is winning or not. Occasionally throwing them a towel to mop up the sweat and / or blood, a drink that’s so brightly coloured it’s verging on neon and despite the advertisements, no piece of real fruit has ever been anywhere near. A quick shoulder rub, some fight talk whispered in their ear before slinging the little ones back in so they can get back to discussing the parking at Waitrose and complain that the Easter holidays are coming too quickly.

And that’s when the realisation crashes down around me.

All parents are dicks.

The parents of the birthday boy are dicks, as lovely as they are, because why, why would you spend hundreds and hundreds of actual British pounds on this hell on earth. Where you get unlimited jugs of squash for free and a visit from Leo the Lion, the shoddy soft play mascot, is just an added extra of £9.99! Yep. They’re dicks.

The dad who’s chosen to throw himself into the pit of fury with an army of ragamuffins trailing behind him, secretly plotting his demise, who keeps shouting from the netted tower – “Ange! Ange! ANGIE! LOOK!” while he displays his I’m fucking mental, me! inane grin while army crawling through a series of padded tunnels. He’s a dick.

The crowd of middle class parents, full of hopeless enthusiasm, “Now, children, I know this isn’t like Centre Parcs but let’s try to have fun, shall we?” Dicks.

You my friend, over there, yes you, you’re a dick for naming your spawn that with absolutely no sense of irony.

The lady over there is a dick because she ordered cheesy chips and granted they probably cost her a fiver in this place but now I can’t order cheesy chips without the awkward “HAH! Oh I know! Yours just looked SO GOOD – I couldn’t resist!” *insert tragic nervous laugh* And if anything sullies a cheesy chip, it’s the sense that an entire table of adults who have nothing better to do are watching your every move. Dicks.

The mother who keeps trying to engage me in conversation to damn our kid’s teacher and form some kind of parental mutiny against her. Mega dick.

And the worst bit?

Realising I’ll be the almighty dick in three months when Noah breaks me down into handing over hundreds and hundreds of pounds for his birthday party in the house of all evil for two hours of screaming, florescent lighting and as much free squash as he can bloody well fit in his face.


OK, I’ll admit, I went a bit loopy yesterday morning. And when I say loopy, I mean full-blown crazy with a cheeky side order or neurosis for good measure. I forgot the health visitor was popping round to see us. Totally forgot. First thing I knew of it her car was sitting in my driveway and the doorbell was ringing, mocking me it seemed. In my infinite wisdom, of which I possess none, I darted to the living room window and shut the curtains – IN FULL VIEW OF HER. Smooth moves. Real smooth. Still cringing, I then proceeded to hide in the kitchen with Noah. FOR TWENTY MINUTES. Which I must add, once you factor in the über awkward atmosphere and my ridiculous anxiety bouncing off the walls, in reality felt like HOURS.

Once she was gone and I was satisfied she hadn’t alerted the local loony bin / social services / police and I’d checked several times that the carpet fitter’s van across the road didn’t inhabit a crack team of surveillance experts I then finally felt able to collapse with in a pool of relief / tears / self loathing.

I couldn’t answer the door. It was just a physical impossibility.

Paralysed and rooted to the spot with shame.

I’d had just about enough. I was exhausted, Noah had been up to his usual tricks of mind fuckery and hadn’t slept well at all. Rob is on some new hefty medication for his ME, which is sending him all over the place and I have to make sure he doesn’t have any adverse reactions to it. Add in the usual stresses; money, health, a general lack of any caffeine in my house, having zero energy and I snapped.

What would’ve happened if I’d answered the door?

The poor woman was just popping in quickly to say hello, so I could retake the questionnaire I did a few weeks ago, to see if I magically felt any better. She’d have been faced with me, dressed in three-day old pyjamas, hollow eyed, hair sticking up in scary peaks like a disgruntled lion, unblinking and two seconds away from bursting into tears. All while Noah is smeared with chocolate spread, wearing his pants on his head and humming “Baby Got Back”.

I would’ve crumbled as soon as her sympathetic eyes fell on me. I’d be totally powerless to put on the brave face for another moment and I’d have cried and cried and pleaded and cried.

I would’ve told her that I don’t want to be here anymore.

That I can’t do this.

That I’m not coping well at all.

That all I want to do is hide in bed and cease to be. Switch off entirely. And wake up when all this has blown over and I don’t care how long it takes.

That I cannot deal with Noah.

That I think I’m being an appalling mum.

That I shout at him too much.

That I’m crippled with guilt and worry.

That I’m just so, so tired of this.

And please, please make this stop.

I couldn’t do that though really, could I? We’re just not allowed to say those things out loud. We’re not allowed to feel those desperate, gut wrenching emotions. We’re simply not permitted to cry, or to say that we can’t cope. Not when you have children. Not when people depend on you. Not when you’re supposed to be OK now. Not when that breakdown thing a while ago was just a “little blip”.

But how much longer can this go on for? How much longer can I keep ignoring the door, or the phone or hiding those unopened letters? How can I continue to refuse to face up to this? The fear if I actually do look at it properly, recognise it and study its jagged edges, its poinsonous surface, will I be able to even pretend to function? Will it all fall apart at the seams and unravel completely?

And that’s why I couldn’t answer the door.

I couldn’t bear to face what I knew would be standing on my doorstep, which wasn’t really the kindly health visitor with the soothing voice and the sympathetic manner. It was all my shame and doubt and guilt rolled into one big clusterfuck, and I just couldn’t face it. I hid away, I sobbed and I swallowed back the gasps of air, and I sat in silence as it hammered on the door for an eternity until I could hear it drive away again.