To be fair, ‘How to know you are a parent’ is not a blog people are crying out for.

If you are a parent of young children it’s unlikely you need someone pointing out how your life, once brimming with cultural events, casual sex and hangovers (generally in that order) has been reduced to chiselling hardened Shreddies off the kitchen floor and falling asleep at the local pub quiz once a year. Even if you did have time to read blogs, the burning toast, spilt drinks and Fisher Price war zone that was once your garden are clues enough.

The most frequent observation of parents is the vague concept of having had a life before toddlers, despite being unable to identify what it was. There are memories not involving Primary school BBQs, bric-a-brac sales and PTA meetings that are evidenced by photos, even if you can’t recall where you were, or who with, or why.

At the peak of toddler parenting, the most amount of daylight ‘me’ time is when you put the rubbish out, before you skip back inside to prevent the 4-year from short circuiting the house.

There will also be a number of unread books on child-rearing. There’s too many better things to be reading before you have them, and you have too little time once you do.

You don’t become entirely deskilled, there’s just nothing to put on your CV, unless companies need employees adept at eating chocolate biscuits hidden beneath cushions, to identify dinosaur silhouettes at 20 paces, and demonstrating interest in when a child is speaking whilst actually having no idea what they’re saying.

Your pet hate is no longer unpunctual drug dealers, but over-eager parents, tending to their darling’s every whim with the attention of nuclear waste handlers, and are actually equipped with baby wipes/water/snacks for the park. The helicopter parent has the wild look in their eyes last seen in John Rambo’s, while the child develops levels of narcissism also last seen in Rambo. As with East 17 playing to 30 people at a 800 capacity venue in Dublin, it’s hard to know who to feel the most sorry for, the band or the audience, parent or child.

One of the reasons parents declare (to themselves) that they’ve never been happier might be due to no longer having any time to watch the news, or comprehend a newspaper. The first section to be slung from the weekend newspaper you’ll never read anyway is the Travel section, as you glimpse places you’ll never visit, ‘on a shoestring budget‘ or otherwise. The closest you get to current affairs is Channel 5’s Milk Shake Monkey visiting the remnants of a fishing fleet in Newquay with a bunch of bananas and primary school children.

Other sure signs involve:

  • You say ‘hold on a minute’ about once a minute
  • You know the price of a pint of whole fat milk and never return home without a bottle.
  • Your toothbrush is in the garden
  • You never go upstairs without taking the opportunity to carry something with you
  • You’re woken up at 6am by the sort of enthisuasm unknown outside Saturday night TV studio audiences, but which certainly isn’t your own.
  • You invent pointless games you won’t recall the intricate details of, but they need to know at 6:01am.
  • When you’re playing music, say the sublime Brennan Green remix of 2bears Not This Time, they shout ‘too loud’ with hands over their ears, until you turn it off and they can watch Ninjagotubbiebetsquares at full volume.
  • Your first name has become ‘But’. As in, But daddy..
  • You know that the easiest way to get a child to play with a toy is to start packing it away
  • You never have any change on your pocket for vending machines, which is possibly how you ended up with children in the first place.
  • You refer to yourself in the third person, like a master criminal, albeit one that hasn’t cleared away breakfast to make way for lunch.

Yet, despite you wishing it was their bed time from the moment they wake up, you miss them from the moment they go to sleep.

My novel, The Life Assistance Agency – selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 –  is available here – –   and features no children, other than one in the background on page 24.

A farcical road trip around Europe. ‘This is what would happen if the Blues Brothers went on a search for the Holy Grail.’

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-life-assistance-agency,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

and on ebook here –