Raising children is a journey with no clear destination and only a fairly limited and often useless map. That is why friends with kids are invaluable. It feels so much better to share your challenges with other people who also have no clue what’s going on. Over the last few years I have shared so many challenges and had so much support from friends with children that we have forged bonds of steel.
We are like the Royal Marines of parenting. No man left behind. If you’re running late and your child needs picking up, if you have to drop one child and collect another from different parties at the same time, if you’ve lost the flipping homework book and have no idea what the little darlings should be doing, and, most of all, if you’ve had a rubbish week and need a glass of wine, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU.
And naturally, like all highly specialised crack teams, not only are we trained to control an angry seven year old at twenty paces, but we have also developed our own vocabulary, a sort of linguistic short-hand of key information. So if you want to get with the gang, you’re going to have to learn the lingo. Here’s a couple of phrases to get you started…
- Personal grooming: you always need a haircut
Origins of the haircut: Just because you have children, you can’t let attention to your appearance slip. Which is why it seemed perfectly credible when one of the dads slipped out of a children’s party claiming he was ‘going for a haircut’. He returned four hours later and sheepishly confessed he had actually spent the entire time in the pub with a mate.
How to use it in conversation: Do you actually have to work late the night my mother’s staying, or are you going for a haircut?
- Driving skills: do a Catherine
Origins of the Catherine: My lovely friend was so busy yelling at her kids in the back of the car, that she entirely failed to notice the rockery looming ominously at the back of the parking space. Luckily she was alerted to its presence by the sound of her boot caving in under the pressure. (No children or animals were harmed in the making of this phrase.)
How to use it in conversation: I don’t want you to get upset, but I may have caressed a post on the way out of the car park. It’s more of a light graze than a full-on Catherine.
- Wage slave: trotter-trotter-trotter
Origins of trottering: As part of a fulsome description of how hard she had been working, one of our friends started typing manically at an imaginary keyboard much as a demented pig in a punk band might play the drums.
How to use it in conversation: I’d love to come for a quick drink or ten, but I’m stuck in the office trottering my life away.
- Coping mechanisms: Honking arsenic
Origins of honking arsenic: We can thank autocorrect for this one. Whatever my friend was actually trying to text was unclear, but her meaning was plain – her mother-in-law had outstayed her welcome and my friend needed rapid and permanent relief from an increasingly oppressive situation.
How to use it in conversation: Getting my kids to do their homework is draining the will to live out of me. If I have to make them practise their lines for assembly as well, I’ll be honking arsenic.
Now you know enough phrases to seamlessly slip into our gang and act like you have always been there. Use this information wisely and you could be joining us on our next night out. If you’re really canny, you may even be able to persuade one of us to pick your children up afterwards…
If you’re now feeling wistful about the joys of friendship, why not read my blog about How to be a great friend.
PS Thanks to our wonderful BBC for the photo at the top!