Hero or villain? It’s all in the edit

The amazing Spider-man overpowered by the rampaging Rhino by Levi Espino

You could have really made a good 2-3 minute trailer of me looking like an absolute arsehole yesterday.

As I tried to get 3 kids ready, around a museum, home, fed, clean and to bed – I snapped, cajoled, threatened, bribed, carried and ignored.

If you just saw those moments, then I would have looked like one of the most unsuccessful and unlikeable fathers in Christendom.

On balance however, the day was really good. For each shitty moment of parental-desperation-versus-child-set-to-weapons-grade-misbehaviour, there were lots of good times and a couple of absolute gems.

You could have probably also made a trailer of these highlights – although I suspect the audience for them would be pretty damn small.

And yesterday wasn’t a stand-out day because of these highs and lows – it was par for the course. Every day is filled both with moments we’d rather nobody saw and others we’d wish that nobody missed.

And this is precisely what we see of other people’s lives. We see moments. We see an edit. That’s all we get.

Sometimes we get the highs, sometimes we get the lows and sometimes we see a more balanced mix – but it’s important to remember that we’re only ever seeing a trailer. No matter how good or bad someone looks in that trailer, the full story is undoubtedly more nuanced (and mundane).

Similarly, it’s worth keeping in mind that other people are only seeing a small edit of our days.

Yesterday was a good day – but there are about 25 people floating around London that probably saw an edit of me yesterday which was probably worthy of a scathing mumsnet post.

It’s worth us remembering that other people’s stories began before we were paying attention and will continue long after we’ve drifted away.

The only reason that some end with “happily ever after” is that someone yelled “CUT!” before everyone in the story got explosive diarrhoea*.

* Thanks to Justin Hamilton for this wonderful idea.

You get what you get and you don’t get upset

Handful by Windell Oskay

As a parent, there are little sayings which you end up reeling off to your kids to try to drill home some of life’s most important lessons – it turns out, many of them also rhyme.

“sharing is caring”

“gentle, not mental”

“champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends”

My personal favourite is from the nursery where my kids used to go:

“You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

It’s a great little reminder that life isn’t always fair and there is little point in going bananas when it doesn’t meet our expectations.

After all, the world you live in is a complex system of interdependencies which have developed over the last 13.7 billion years. Your expectations? You made them up.

Expectations are an argument with an indifferent reality and the source of a lot of our suffering.

The sooner we can learn to let both expectations and social comparison go, and roll with the actual nature of the world, the happier we will all be.

A Flo-cratic Easter dialogue

A conversation in which Kent (37, atheist) and Flo (6, Jewish), have a semi-successful discussion about religion. At Easter.

Happy Jesus weekend.

Kent: Are you ready for the last day of school before Easter?

Flo: Not everyone believes in Easter. My teacher is a little bit Jewish. That’s what she said, “I’m a little bit Jewish”. People can be whatever they want. They can believe whatever they want to believe.

Kent: That’s right, lot’s of people believe lots of different things.

Flo: Do you want to be be Jewish daddy?

Kent: …um… [tumbleweed] … because my Mummy isn’t Jewish, I can’t just say “I’m Jewish”, I would have to do a test.

Flo: Well why don’t you do the test? I just did my spelling test. It was easy. The Jewish test is probably easy.

Kent: I like hanging out with Jewish people, I’m married to one, but that doesn’t mean that I need to become Jewish as well.

Flo: But why don’t you want to be Jewish? If you’re not Jewish, then what are you?

Kent: I’m not sure of what the right name is, but I believe different things to Jewish people and Christian people.

Flo: Are you a Muslim then? You don’t have a mat, do you?

Kent: No, I’m not a Muslim. And you’re right, I don’t have a mat.

Flo: But I have seen you wrap a book up.

Kent: That was just to stop it getting wet in the rain. Christians and Muslims and Jewish people all believe certain things about God and life, but I don’t think the same things about God. That’s why I’m not Muslim, or Jewish.

Flo: What do they believe that you don’t.

[getting into dangerous territory]

Kent: Well, most of those groups think that God has written rules for how we should live. But I think that people are better at writing those rules. A lot of God’s rules were written a long time ago, and while some of them are good, I don’t think they all make sense any more. So this means that some people are using some rules that don’t make sense. I think what when people come together and share ideas, we can do a better job of figuring out what’s good to do and what’s not good to do. Better than using rules that don’t make sense.

Flo: Like what?

Kent: Like lots of things. Like whether it’s a good idea to eat bacon, or help people, or kill people who believe different things, or give your money away.

Flo: I like bacon.

Kent: That’s right. You’re Jewish and you eat bacon, because you’ve decided that it’s a good thing to do. That’s a people decision.

Flo: Bacon is soooooo yummy.

Kent: Yeah, it’s one of the tastiest things in the world.

Flo: But you don’t eat it. If you like it, why don’t you eat it?

Kent: Because I think it’s better if we don’t eat meat. I think this is one of those things that most people will do a good job of figuring out if we keep sharing ideas. It might just take some time, and even then, lot’s of people might not agree.

Flo: Because bacon is yummy?

Kent: Because bacon is yummy. Especially with banana and maple syrup.

Flo: Banana?!? That sounds disgusting.

Kent: See, I told you people might not agree.

Wearing White

Today I’m covered in vomit and I don’t care. If I changed my clothes every time my daughter Florence spewed on me, I wouldn’t have time to leave the house; but this afternoon I took it too far towards the other end of the spectrum which was probably even worse.

While down at the green grocer, the man behind the counter pointed to my jumper and said, “I think that you have something on your top.” I didn’t really have the energy or inclination to lie about what it was, so I just told him “oh, that’s just vomit,” and when the look on his face changed from concern to horror I tried to allay his fears by following it up with, “but don’t worry, it’s not mine.”

To a stranger, the only thing more alarming than being blasé about being covered in your own vomit, is being blasé about being covered in someone else’s.

The problem was, whenever I heard someone say, “you’ve got vomit on yourself,” I assumed that they were doing it out of a concern for my appearance and the welfare of my clothing. The real reason that people will tell you about vomit on your clothing however, is to measure your mental stability by gauging your reaction to news of the spew. If you have a normal reaction to news of the vomit, “oh God, really? Do you have a cloth?” then people can rest easy that you’re ok and that the vomit/porridge/tipex/semen down your top is the result of an accident that probably wasn’t you’re fault.

If however, you react with, “don’t worry, it’s not my vomit,” you present yourself as an absolute fuck-trophy, seemingly incapable of recognising or acknowledging the social damage that can occur when you’ve got a suspicious white stain on your top.

I mean, what kind of toolbox gets vomited on by someone and doesn’t think or care to clean it off? As it happens, this kind of toolbox.

To be fair, baby vomit isn’t as bad as adult vomit: It’s watery, it doesn’t smell of chartreuse & regret and until your baby is eating solids, it’s blissfully carrot-free. But despite this, telling someone that the vomit on your shirt is “only semi-curdled breast milk” doesn’t placate their concerns, it’s just a surefire way to make sure that you’re well on your way to earning a reputation on par with trough-man.

The up-side is that at least fatherhood has allowed me to break free from the shackles of caring what other people think. The down-side is that I’m no longer welcome at my local fruit shop.