When my son was a toddler, he swallowed a stone in the garden which got stuck in his throat. We rushed him to A &E where medics were unable to dislodge it, so he was blue-lighted to a larger hospital with a paediatric team. They eventually took the stone out, and breathing was restored. I resolved never to let my son out into the big, wide world again – but my husband quickly pointed out that this was impossible.
So I hit upon my first rule of parenting, taken from Arthur Ransome. The mother in the story expresses to her husband her concern for the exploits of her children, and is told, “Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown.” This has informed my decisions to let my children go out into the world, equipped only with common sense and a sense of humour.
Because humour is the second rule of parenting. To use humour is to employ a non-anxious presence, and it allows space for feelings to rise up and be acknowledged. The Mom Song has got me through messy rooms, mouldy mugs (and worse) under beds, lack of communication, anger, resentment, lies and recriminations (theirs and mine), and the highs and lows of life – accidents, life and death, new starts, dreams kindled and new friends made, places left behind. If you haven’t seen it already, enjoy!