Thursday, July 15, 2010

"I'm counting till three!" and other sins

When you become a parent, much to your dismay, you find yourself making the same mistakes your parents made. The difference being that they didn't know any better, and in this day and age of Oprah, you ought to.

I blame it on being severely sleep deprived and therefore not in possession of my faculties. It's the only explanation for some of the rubbish non sequiturs I've found myself spouting of late. Like, 'It's no because I said it's no,' or, 'I'm counting till three' (what's supposed to happen after three I have no idea), or, 'I'm not asking you again,' (of course I ask her again).

Fortunately I have yet to resort to cutting Julia's beautiful babyish locks into a Nazi Youth League inspired short back and sides because 'hair is like grass, the more you cut it the thicker it grows.' I swear to god this is the logic my siblings and I were subjected to for years, resulting in people thinking I was a boy for the first five years of my life. And why it was so important we had thick hair in the first place is yet another incomprehensible mystery.

The fact that my mother took this advice from the vertically challenged compulsive lying Cypriot barber in our neighbourhood is beyond any and all reason. Strangely, she could distinguish that he was maybe, quite possibly, lying when he said he had been the personal hairdresser to Elizabeth Taylor for years, but not that he was talking bollocks about the structure of hair follicles and the fact that what you do to the ends has nothing at all to do with the roots, or indeed one's genetic predisposition towards fine or thick hair.

So it was a happy day for us children when the idiot put tinfoil on my mother's newly permed hair (with chemicals still on) and stuck her under the drier. First she noticed her ears feeling rather hot, followed by the smell of burning hair and smoke. It took months of continual hot oil treatments and haircuts at a rather more sophisticated hairdressing salon for her singed pompadour to recover, her ears requiring an intensive moisturiser to abate the excessive peeling. But best of all, thereafter we children got to choose our hairstyles and direct stylists who actually understood how to cut hair as opposed to just shearing it.

But back to the threats us parents make; I have a theory that the more you pick on a child and their behaviour (easy to do when you are tired and irritable and things you'd normally ignore suddenly really annoy you) the more defensive they become and start acting out. Recently, I noticed that the more I argued with Julia about things she does - silly childish things to get my attention - the more defiant she was becoming and it started genuinely depressing me how much we were arguing with each other. It felt like everything was becoming a battle, and I mourned the great relationship I had with my little girl when I could make her laugh, and vice versa, or distract her and all would be well.

Having reflected on why our relationship had changed so much, I had to concede what is true of every relationship in life - the dynamic is co-created. Certainly there is the plain and simple reality that due to the new baby in the house and having being usurped as the Majordomo, there was bound to be some regression and seeking of attention. The fact that at this point the baby requires my attention most of the day leaving little for her, also doesn't help. Then there's also the fact that being a little kid she does things she shouldn't because she is pushing boundaries and asserting herself.

But the rate at which she was doing these things and the way she reacted when I told her off, was telling about how I was handling the situation too. So by easing up and having a sense of humour about stuff and being a lot more patient (god help me), it's had a really positive knock-on effect with her too. It's genuinely been quite a dramatic change.

Sure, there are still times when instead of laughing about something I find myself yelling out, 'Jesus Christ! Get that electrical adaptor (plugged in) out of your mouth now!' but by and by, there has been a marked improvement on both our parts. And Julia, in all her graciousness, has taken to telling me, 'I'm sorry you shouted at me like that,' said in a poignant apologetic tone as though benevolently done on my behalf. I have no doubt she would make an accomplished Catholic in the guilt-inducing stakes.

On my end I don't really have a life outside of my children right now. An exciting moment comes when I have an opportunity to sit down for five minutes and read Heat magazine (apparently Lindsay Lohan's biggest fear about her pending 90-day prison sentence is possible weight gain), or feel like I am living on the edge when I crack open a can of Diet Coke. Just think of what that Aspartame might do. God I'm reckless.

I've started trying to regain some sort of regular human appearance, as opposed to the blob in stretch trousers with roots even Shakira would be ashamed of. I saw my stylist a couple of weeks ago, and we drank Starbucks while he stuck foils in my hair and reminisced about that day, so many moons ago, when he coloured my hair for Roberto and my wedding. Back when I had one chin, and only wore support pants on Friday nights.

Our holidays are coming up. I had two bathing suits delivered in the post (I do all my shopping online these days - changing rooms being far too traumatic). The good news is that they fit, the bad news is that they are enormous. Still, I think I should be awarded points for bravery in as much as I plan to wear the things near the general public and a body of water.

Finally and totally unrelated, I wanted to spend a moment to express how saddened I was to learn about the tragic death of Sebastian Horsley. For those of you who didn't know him or of him, he was an eccentric London-based writer who's rather controversial autobiography, 'Dandy in the Underworld' (so controversial that the Americans refused him entry into their country), had just been turned into a West End play and was in the process of being turned into a movie.

I met Sebastian on a few occasions as he attended the same poetry functions as me at my club, back in the days when I still had a social life. Despite looking at me as a hungry dog might appraise a juicy steak, he was surprisingly shy and extremely courteous in person - in stark contrast to the violent, sexual, and in your face shock-factor of his book, or his articles for the Erotic Review for that matter.

Apparently it was a suspected heroin overdose. Knowing what a narcissist Sebastian was and the fact that all his dreams of major fame (notoriety having long preceded that) were about to come true, I prefer to think it was a terrible tragic accident as opposed to suicide. RIP Sebastian x

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