Bribery and babies don’t mix. Believe me, I’ve tried. “I’ll read you the cloth version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar if you stop crying?” “Cash for smiles?” The boy sizes me up, narrow-eyed, tear-stained and suspicious, contemplating the offer on the table. A sharp business mind already. But my hope is short-lived. A furrowed brow and the bottom lip-curl tells me it’s been swiftly rejected. Normal service resumes.
Following such epic fails, I’ve embarked on a different parenting technique: Weapons of Mass Distraction. My armoury is as follows:
1. The Hairdryer
Little could I have imagined when I bought my shitty wee hairdryer all those years ago that I’d be using it to pacify a 12-week-old. The discovery came during a particularly trying morning. “Mummy’s just getting ready”, I shout, as I turn it on while simultaneously trying to dress myself, pick up a sick-stained baby grow and narrowly avoid slipping on one of fifty muslins. To my amazement, as soon as I flick the switch Tom’s eyelids start to droop. Perfect! *silent fist pump in head*. Unfortunately for me the wee rascal has now cottoned on to my trick and tries every trick in the book to fight the sleep. “My hands and feet will keep moving mummy, my hands and feet will keep moving…yay!” We have a maximum sleep time of approximately two minutes. Which definitely isn’t long enough for a sly coffee. (I have attempted it.) I often daydream about slowly drinking a piping hot latte while the Hallelujah Chorus plays in the background. Magical. Wonderful. Never going to happen.
Yes son, this was your mother in a previous life
This is how I spend approximately two thirds of my time with the nipper. It doesn’t matter what I sing. It doesn’t matter when I sing. I sing. This method has had varying levels of success. ABC was flavour of the month until he decided he didn’t like the Jackson Five anymore. The boy doesn’t know a classic when he hears it. Tickling his toes and declaring “Tickilie tock, Tickilie tock, da da da da da da da daaaah daaaah” to the tune of Captain Pugwash is the current fave. Although I’m singing it so much I worry it will cross over into my adult life… There will come a day when I go to the bakers and skip around clicking my fingers whilst declaring “mummy’s gettin’ the bread, yeah” to the tune of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. Dear God.
3. The Good Old Dog and Bone
Ah the mobile phone. That glorious bastion of distraction. Before Tom arrived I downloaded two albums. I was convinced he would love them and we’d sing along together, Playschool-stylee. I was smug. I was stupid.
Of course I also committed the cardinal sin of not listening to these ‘tunes’ properly until after the baby was here. Now our home is filled with the warblings of the 50 Greatest Nursery Rhymes by The Countdown Kids (cheer, woo hoo!) A chorus of American kids with saccharine sweet voices. Some of the tracks make no sense whatsoever, and it’s not just me that hates them. Tom and I can tolerate Old MacDonald Had A Farm, (a masterclass in memorising various animal sounds), but then we get to such gems as”I had a Rooster”. Here’s a flavour:
“My little rooster went cocka doodle doo. Dee doodle-ee doodle-ee doodle-ee do”
And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
Before long the boy’s in tears again and I’m planning how hunt down that sodding bird. Your doodle-ee do days are numbered my feathered friend.
The lullabies album is a tad more sedate (clue in the title, huh), and I tend to use it at night. But there’s a spanner in the works. A fly in the ointment. Tucked away amidst all the lovely, lilting tunes, there’s a really bloody upbeat track. Why would you do that? WHY? The bambino’s drifting off, all is well with the world, then BOOM. While I may secretly yearn for a return to my clubbing days I’m not keen to have it re-enacted in my bedroom at half seven at night, thus waking up my kiddie-wink. FFS.
Those are my tools. Unfortunately their deployment has not been a huge success. Beleaguered and battle-weary, back to the bribery it is…