So you are a parent and you live in the Inner West? Well, congratulations! You have made two great choices – firstly, to extend the human race, and secondly, to raise your progeny in the best part of town. With this start, your child will probably grow up to cure cancer or solve peace in the Middle East. At the very least, he or she will have gorgeous shoes and know their macchiato from their ristretto.
But how exactly do you do this parenting thing, you may wonder? What are the cultural rules? Should you buy a two-story pram with flashing turn signals or a baby sling made of non-allergenic, sustainably farmed cat fur? If your baby has no hair and a face like Mal Meninga, is it OK to sticky-tape bows on her head? How do you figure out the kind of parent you want to be, when modern parenting is more complicated than the Eurovision scoring system?
Fear not, my fecund friends. Today, I present you with a breakdown of the parenting subcultures you may find in your area so that you can decide which suits you best.
Life is non-stop action for the Tiger Parent. If you wish to join this gang, you will need energy, substantial funds and room in your seven-seater SUV for large takeaway lattes and anxiety medication. There are many instruments to learn, many sports to try and much work to be done in order to maximise your child’s potential.
You may like to use red traffic lights and otherwise wasted ‘toilet time’ to quiz children on times tables and current affairs. Keep perspective though, and schedule some ‘free play’ windows between trapeze, Mandarin, kung-fu and Mock UN. It’s best to tightly manage these interactions with other children to avoid the horror of a ‘bad-influence’ situation where you suggest it is time to complete the daily chess move and your child replies, “I come in before and done it already.”
This style of parenting requires a strong spine and a large bed. Breastfeeding is encouraged until such time as the baby is old enough to say, “In the name of all that is holy, Mum, put those things away.” Co-sleeping means that you share the bed with your baby so that he or she can feel comforted by the warmth of your body, but you should note that ‘sleeping’ in this instance refers only to the baby and not the parents. Baby-wearing is encouraged and strollers highly frowned upon, so you may wish to open an account with your osteopath. Children should ideally be clothed in organic hemp neutrals woven by a feminist Fair Trade collective from a third world nation.
The difficulty facing Crunchy Parents is that a consciously hands-off, free range approach can often produce rowdy and disobedient kids. This can be wonderful, but keeping an unruffled, peaceful demeanour while simultaneously shouting, “Spirulina! Get your Birkenstocks out of my goat cheese! It is FERMENTING!” will be challenging.
Many aspects of being a Rock Parent are easy. Dress your child in vintage t-shirts, swear a lot around them, and take a relaxed approach to bedtime and haircuts. Let your kid taste your beer, take photos of this and post it on Facebook as a fun visual illustration of your laid-back attitude. (Note: this is not so funny with an Orchy bottle bong and may result in a visit from the authorities.)
The main difficultly Rock Parents will face is in avoiding the pervasive pull of the Wiggles. Without your knowledge, your child will be drawn into their web and imprinted for life. One day at a Summer Hill barbecue your child will be asked to sing a song and instead of their usual adorable rendition of the Ramones classic ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away,’ from their throat will issue, to your horror: ‘Wags the Dog, He Likes to Tango.’
Studies show that same-sex parents are often better at managing disagreements and anger. In this way and others, same-sex parents may occasionally wish to bring some opposite-sex behaviours into their household to give their child a broad view of gender relations. Gay men, you may wish to suddenly and inexplicably throw a tantrum over a household chore or system that has previously never caused concern. For instance; packing school lunches or emptying the compost bin. Try to time these rages to occur approximately every 28 days and make sure to add universal statements to your impassioned monologue, as in: “I always! This never! Not once!” and so on.
Lesbians who have skills in craft may like to try fashioning a set of hairy balls out of some old pantyhose and wear shorts with these hanging out of the bottom so that kids get the real ‘dad’ experience. If possible, open the door to religious people while wearing your ‘house-pants.’
Parents, you may see yourselves above, or you may not. The Inner West is a wonderful melting pot of cultures and lifestyles. Perhaps you are a Traditional Parent? A Status Parent? A Homeschooling Wiccan Artisanal Cheesemaker Parent? Whatever tribe you relate to, you are part of a larger culture of families and friends in this beautiful inner-city community we share. Welcome! Enjoy the coffee! And if you can get one of your kids to cure cancer, that would be really good.
Words: Rachael Mogan McIntosh, www.mogantosh.blogspot.com.
Coffee with kids
If you have small kids, you need caffeine. And if you are accompanied by your weeping, incontinent, unpredictable tiny person, it’s best to hang out at a joint where they like children. Luckily, the Inner West is blessed with a massive number of great cafes and restaurants. Here are some of our most family friendly cafes.
Revolver Cafe, Annandale St, Annandale
Rosebud Cafe, Balmain Rd, Rozelle
Coffee 1st, Dulwich Hill
Sideways, Dulwich Hill
The Grounds in Alexandria
Sydney Park Kiosk for kids and dogs
And finally, special points to Bitton in Erskineville for their kids playroom