Before we start, I know. You don’t need me to tell you that sequels are never as good as the original.
It’s one of those facts of life that we’re all aware of. You get to the end credits of a film you’ve enjoyed and straight away you’re thinking to yourself:
“You know what? I’d really like to take another adventure with those characters.”
These positive vibes linger for the next few years until you’re sat before the end credits of the inevitable sequel. It’s only then that you think:
“I wish they hadn’t bothered.”
Ghostbusters 2, Jaws 2, Jurassic Park 2 (The Lost World) – none of them are anywhere near as good as the original.
In fact, the only good sequels I can think of are The Godfather Part II and the QE2 (I’m talking about the boat here ma’am).
My point is good sequels are pretty rare, so the odds of this post – a follow up to the hugely successful 5 Stupid Things I Am Regularly Asked – succeeding are slim to say the least.
Faint heart never won fair lady, so, ignoring all that, here’s my latest installment:
THE SEQUEL: ANOTHER 5 STUPID THINGS I AM REGULARLY ASKED!!!
“CAN I HAVE A CUDDLE?”
I’m asked this by the strangest of strangers on an almost daily basis. To be clear, they’re asking if they can have a cuddle with Sam, not me. Although, thinking about it, asking to cuddle me might be considered even weirder. That’s not to say nobody has ever wanted to cuddle me, it’s just it’s not a proposition I get often in the street. In fact, the days of me getting propositioned in the street are (sadly) long gone – but I digress.
The requested cuddle is with Sam. It’s always accompanied with a grin that says the request is the most normal thing in the world. Yet I don’t feel it is. Yes, I’m aware that a lot of ladies (of a certain age) would love nothing more than a quick cuddle with a baby – but I don’t see it as my job to facilitate this need. It must be terrifying for him to be launched through the air towards some puckered, whisky-breathed, toothless, bewhiskered stranger – and that’s just the women. The answer is ‘no’ – Sam is not a plaything – if you want a cuddle, get yourself a dog.
Them’s the rules people, them’s the rules!
“DOES HE KEEP YOU BUSY?”
I am currently typing while simultaneously hoovering, cleaning up sick, changing a nappy and building a Duplo castle*.
*This may be a (slight) exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Does he keep me busy? Yes, yes he does. In a former life I was a gallery producer on a live TV show. I’d have a permanent queue of people stood by my desk expecting instant answers to their questions, while I simultaneously spoke into presenters’ ears and edited scripts. It’s a job you need at least 6 hands and 3 heads for – if you’re going to do it well. Yet, looking back, it was a total walk in the park compared with the levels of busy-ness I’ve experienced with Sam.
Every day I sit on the toilet – for most people an enforced break in even the craziest of schedules – shouting:
“No Sam, a toilet roll is not food!”… “No don’t swing on the towel rail!” … “No Sam, don’t suck on the bathmat!”
You get the idea.
In fact, I’m thinking of having “Too Busy to Poo!” made up as a T-shirt line – I think they’d go down well.
For the record YES – Sam keeps me busy. VERY BUSY. If you think you’re busy, but you still have time to poo on your own – then, frankly, you’re not.
DOES HE LIKE THE (DELIBERATELY UNSPECIFIED) PRESENT I BOUGHT HIM?
This is going to sound massively ungrateful – for which I am (a little bit) sorry.
How shall I put this?
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT PRESENT(S) YOU BOUGHT FOR SAM. NONE. WHATSOEVER.
Let me add some context. During the time when presents arrived for Sam – in the first few weeks after his birth – his mother and I were living in what I can only describe as a permanent fug. I barely remember any of that time – it was like having a constant hangover – with none of the joys of the night before.
Genuinely, I think I’ve blocked a very large part of this period out – I get occasional flashbacks, but that’s another story.
Sam’s mum and I were (and are) hugely grateful for the kind generosity show to us by so many. But please, don’t play the ‘Can you remember what present I bought for you son?’ game with us. Most days I can barely remember my own name. Whatever you got for him, you can be sure he loved it – loosely translated this means he drooled on it and threw it across the room.
More than that I cannot tell you.
“DID YOU GET FED UP OF DOING A ‘PROPER JOB’?”
I’ve had this question a ridiculously high number of times, usually from people who don’t know me very well. To be fair the inquiry usually comes from men, retired men.
A ‘Proper Job’?
Of all the stupid questions that get fired off in my direction, this is the one most likely to make me lose the plot?
Really? A ‘Proper Job’?
I know that there’s a difference between how generations view the world. I also know that the role of the father has changed substantially between my generation (and younger, at 38 I’m quite an old ‘new dad’) and that of my own father. I’m aware that many from that generation haven’t mentally escaped the model where the woman stayed at home and the man spent his days bringing how the proverbial cured pork products. I understand all that. But please don’t give me the whole only paid work outside of the home is a ‘proper job’ bullshit. Raising children is not something that’s done in order to have an easy life and avoid work. Nothing could be further from the truth.
So far I’ve managed to avoid putting an ‘Alan’ or ‘Trevor’ – with their pencil moustaches, mobile phone belts and casual racism – through a wall when they suggest that being a #SAHD is somehow an inferior occupation to whatever paper-pushing it was they did in their prime.
I mean, seriously, how offensive is that to the generations of women who nobly fulfilled this role? I’m getting cross so I’ll leave it there.
I am slightly concerned however that the next person to ask this question might see me go off like a fireworks display…
“WHERE’S HIS MUM?”
Once again, this question seems to come from the older generation – bless ’em. There seems to me something that often occurs when people enter retirement where they suddenly feel entitled to ask (in fairness ‘demand’ would be a better word) often quite probing questions of complete strangers.
‘Where’s his mum?’ is a question I find myself dealing with very regularly. It’s a question in code. This isn’t, in reality, a request for the precise location of Sam’s mother. The question is rather something different, a statement that points out the ‘natural order of things’ as the elderly person sees it, is out of kilter.
The question could be translated as “I think women, not men. should be care providers to children, so I’ll ask a question that points to my belief that such supervision should be temporary.”
I’ve tried several answers to the question. I’ve tried the truth:
“She’s at home writing academic papers.”
This doesn’t go down well – ever. It’s usually accompanied by huffing and puffing and under the breath grunts about the way of the world these days.
“She’s busy at home.”
This goes down OK – as ‘busy at home’ sounds like it could involve vacuuming, rather than working in her home office.
I’ve also tried lying:
“She’s having her hair done.”
This approach instantly turns me into a saint. Isn’t he good looking after the baby while giving his other half the chance to pamper herself? Somehow looking after a baby for the time it takes for a cut and blow is much better than providing care for the child all day!
It’s a strange world we live in.
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