An Open Letter to Flop
Despite the firm assurance of a Cambodian fortune teller that, as of March 2016, everything in my life was going to be easy, I’ve been having a really hard week. During times of struggle I ought to be more vigilant with the TV schedule, but today I absent-mindedly allowed my daughter to watch Bing (I left her in the cot – which is never used for sleep but as a kind of baby prison while I have a shower – next to the telly). While listening to Bing’s whining and your characteristically level-headed, in control, considered, informed and confident response, I felt myself spiralling into a familiar black hole of inadequacy.
Flop, what even are you? Are you his Dad or what? Does he call you Flop because of some progressive parenting choice you’ve made to deconstruct the normative model of the family? Are you a neighbour or some kind of paid help? I’m not trying to be narrow minded. I’m just trying to understand why you never seem to lose your shit, Flop. We never see you in the background putting your car keys in your bag really hard or muttering about how well you did in your fucking degree while mopping up yoghurt with a fistful of angrily scrunched baby wipes. Flop, do you ever have to count to ten?
How do you get the shopping out of the car? Do you leave Bing in his car seat, even if he’s crying, while you get the stuff out of the car and into the front door? Do you lock the car between each car-to-front-door journey? What the fuck do you do in the petrol station, Flop? What if the pay-at-pump is out of order? You just don’t seem to feel panicked, Flop. You seem like you’ve got it all in hand and I’m not even sure if you have hands.
Flop, have you ever mouthed “arsehole” behind Bing’s back – not so as he would have heard but maybe passers by would have noticed – because you walked straight past Clarks despite the fact your destination was Clarks and you felt Bing was somehow responsible? Have you ever spent eighteen pounds on a pair of Clarks wellies you didn’t even like, simply because you didn’t want to go home having not achieved the task of buying Bing some wellies? Flop, when was the last time you had to bite your car key to stop yourself crying at the till because you were exhausted and you only paid for 90 minutes parking and you had 3 minutes left but you were a 4 minute walk from the car and you were trying to enter your pin number with a struggling Bing gripped precariously under your left arm and your right hand self-consciously grazing the pram handle to check if your handbag was still there? Do you even have a handbag, Flop? Are you made from a sock?
Do you ever feel like you’ve inadvertently waterboarded Bing when all you wanted to do was wash his hair? What’s your stance on refined sugar? Do you ever think that maybe you make the same tired old joke about Bing only eating Pom Bears so no one realises you lose sleep over your failure to get him to consume anything other than breastmilk? Are you on Instagram? Does Bing like blueberry nicecream? Do you? Do you drench it in maple syrup and eat it anyway? What do you mean “no”?
Do you ever worry about rickets, Flop, despite the fact that Bing is unusually tall? Does rickets run in Bing’s family? My boyfriend has bendy legs but is that hereditary? Or was it cos he was born in a war? Do you think it’s wrong that he’s 30 tomorrow and we’re so far away? How will I make him a cake, Flop? People say we’re lucky we have Skype but have you ever been on Skype, Flop? Is it the same as a hug? Why can we print a kidney but the internet doesn’t work when it rains?
What’s the deal with Sula? If she tried to hit Bing would you hit her back? Do you think we should stay in the EU, Flop? Or should we become part of America instead? Did you go to Normandy in Year Seven, Flop? Remember the ferry and everyone putting the waists of their coats over their heads so they nearly blew away and it rained the whole fucking time you were there? What about Calais, Flop? It’s all very well being able to explain to Bing that when he has a sleepover he has to be prepared to mix bedtime routines but how do you explain to him that some people don’t have a bedtime routine because they don’t have a bed because they live i.n.a.f.u.c.k.i.n.g.t.e.n.t.?
Are you a single parent, Flop? You never seem to go to work but you live in a big house and we never see you checking your Lloyds app and going pale in the face and mouthing “oh SHIT”. You’ve got a massive orange fridge which can’t have come cheap, Flop. Flop, how do you cope with the crushing responsibility? Do you ever panic that Bing will be kidnapped while you’re in the shower, despite the fact you can see him and the front door is locked?
Flop, I bet you don’t have to write “brush Bing’s teeth” on your to do list in order to remember it. I bet you just do it. Every day. Twice. And I bet you really do it, rather than just let him chew the toothbrush while you do your eyeliner. You don’t even wear eyeliner, do you? Have you ever had to Google “what exactly is soft play” because you don’t actually know? Of course you haven’t. You invented soft play. You’ve never even got an apostrophe wrong, you perfect bastard.
Flop, do you well up because the music to Waybuloo is ambient?
Bonny, 28, Buckinghamshire