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The Perfect Family - Part IV

The perfect family... is there such a thing? If so, I'm certainly not a part of one (though I wouldn't change a thing). In my series, I document the wonderfully imperfect moments in my own family life, in the hope that others will share my sense that it is ok to be an imperfect parent, because the opposite is an unattainable dream which leads to low self-esteem and a constant and pervasive sense of guilt. My view is that I can just blame my child's behaviour on society and energy drinks and that clears me of any wrong-doing.

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This week, I went to the public library. The word public is crucial to that sentence, as in a public place, there are written and unwritten rules of conduct which the vast majority feel a certain level of responsibility to follow. All except small children. Although at the time of this week's event happening, I felt like the only parent that could ever allow such a blatant disregard for rules to occur, this sort of thing has almost certainly occured to every parent on the globe.

The children's section at the public library does not subscribe to the same rules as the rest of the library. I mean, you try to keep a 2 year old quiet when they spot a life-sized cutout of a Mumin troll greeting them at the entrance to the hundreds of shelves lined with colourful and exciting books. Not possible I tell you. However, there are other adults present and many of them (myself included) feel a need to set the example with their own child to show what an in-control parent they really are. The unwritten rules live strong in me. I want to set the example too. Try as I might, I cannot help but to cringe at the parent of the child who has just thrown a book in the face of their baby brother in an uncontrollable fit of rage. Tut tut, my mind says. Only until my child goes and does the very same thing just moments later. Erm... now I feel like a twat.

I was enjoying time at the library with my delightful wife and 4-month-old baby daughter (number 2). Taking pictures of the little has becoming more interesting. She is now finally smiling and laughing at the slightest bit of stimulation. No longer will my squeaky coos be misjudged as a screech of oddly-masked pain. In my distraction and obsession with catching the right moment on camera, I totally lost track of my eldest, who had disappeared round the corner of the large red-leather sofa which sits neatly in the middle of the children's area. Snapping away, I noticed out of the corner of my viewfinder a midget-like figure stealthily creep up onto the sofa and crouch down as if ready to leap into the abyss. Refocusing my camera, I just managed to catch her trajectory as she flung herself off the sofa, with scant regard for the potential death-inducing crash she would surely face, down onto her new crimson throne and screamed with all her might. "HOPPPPPPPPPPAAAAAAAAA!!!" (translated from Swedish as "JUUUUUUUMP!!!").

Watching her screaming like a Viking warrior, I felt the inevitable sense of self-guilt, believing that she was ruining the precious family time of others in the vicinity and felt the hot gaze of at least one other parent on me. Realising that I had still not moved but was sitting on the ground happily snapping away at my unruly child repeatedly leaping from a height, each time with greater fervour, I realised that the stares were probably more to do with my unwillingness to get up off my fat arse and be a parent. I took a couple more snaps and then proceeded to pick her up and have a quiet word about not bursting any eardrums or skydiving off high surfaces.

Naturally, looking through my viewfinder just 2 minutes later, Erik The Red had returned...