When I commenced my parenting thesis, nine and a half years ago, I had not considered that it would take quite so long to hand it in. I had not banked on the required reading list being quite so long, nor the minimum skill set being quite so extensive. This graduation, of course, does not mark the end of the parenting journey. Merely, it signifies the end of the chapter entitled, "child-at-home-during-the-day-several-days-of-the-week".
At the completion of a thesis it is requisite that a paper be published from the work. Now that the junior recipe testers are all at school during the prescribed hours, save those times we are running late due to a flat bike tyre, lost car keys or a tantrum about whether or not sunscreen should be applied and by whom, I feel it incumbent upon me to write.
Parenting is oft described as one of life's most fulfilling pursuits. Although there is some conjecture amongst scholars, those critiquing this standpoint are often found to have no offspring of their own. Supporters of the notion of parenting fulfilment are quick to counter that critics should at least be grateful that their parents wanted to try it. Lest they would not have been born.
The early years, considered the time between birth and when the last child starts formal education, are generally considered stressful. Learning potential is heightened as well adjusted, sensible adults come to terms with the vagaries of newborn, toddler and child behaviour. Classes, taken prior to the birth of a first child, are a curious human endeavour, producing adults who feel accomplished at parenting but without any understanding of what the task of caring for an offspring actually entails.
Along with my fellow graduates of 2018, all of them titans of learning, the following minimum competency standards have been achieved.
Shoes are rarely found on the feet of junior recipe testers, particularly in those precious minutes before you need to get out the door. An hour before leaving home, said shoes will be on the appropriate feet. A minute before, not so much. Multiple strategies for dealing with lost shoes, including hopping, are both learned and rehearsed.
For the breastfeeding mother, the advent of an infant's teeth is a significant test of faith. The losing of teeth, however, may set forth a series of events that has to be witnessed to be believed. At this point one is expected to add an additional role to one's repetoire - that of tooth fairy - without any additional duties allowance. Any role performance issues are treated extremely seriously.
The teaching of tucking in a school shirt requires swift mastery concurrent with the starting of school. In most cases it involves at least four hands, belonging to up to three individuals, pushing slightly too long shirt tails into a slightly too loose waistband. Proficiency is achieved when the task can be accomplished while running along the footpath, undistracted by the sound of a bell ringing in the distance.
The graduation ceremony was held on Monday 5th February. The bell rang, the lines were drawn, the bags were placed on the appropriate hooks. The tissues were fetched and the long walk back to the car, my hands empty, began.
Time to write chapter two.