Written by Catie Wilkins

Voices

Baps for change!

Catie Wilkins is tired of apologising for being a paranoid and neurotic parent. Time for a new word?

Illustration by Claire Jones.

Illustration by Claire Jones.

Language is constantly evolving. That’s why in 2006 everyone loved calling cool stuff ‘fierce’ and in 2007, laughed up their sleeves at anyone who still did. It’s a cut-throat business.

Over time, with pressure from advocacy groups, lots of words with negative connotations have been reclaimed by the people they were supposed to be insulting and rebranded as positives. Or replaced with a more accurate, less loaded description.

Gay people have reclaimed the Q word, for example. Feminists have reclaimed the C word. Black people and Quentin Tarantino have reclaimed the N word. And (unless you hate the idea of women enjoying sex) ‘sexually liberated’ is the new ‘slut’.

But there are still some gaps. I think it’s about time we reclaimed the term ‘neurotic mother’ from the negativity it’s mired in, or at least acknowledge that some of the qualities under the broad umbrella of ‘neurotic’ are actually very useful, life-saving parenting skills.

We simply just don’t have enough positive-sounding go-to adjectives to describe looking after a baby. Eskimos have loads of ways of expressing the concept of snow but all we really have are a million ways to call women ‘sexually liberated’.

Being ‘worried’ about your baby always sounds negative but I would argue it is also entirely appropriate. All it really means is that you are being aware, concerned and careful. But the onus is on us to be sorry we might sound mad:

“Sorry to be paranoid and neurotic, but I think she needs to wear a hat because it’s snowing.”

“Sorry to be paranoid and neurotic, but does that suggested route across London through the underground, during rush hour, have loads of stairs?”

“Sorry to be paranoid and neurotic, but that open bottle of bleach is right next to that sippy cup; I’m just going to move it.”

We’re not actually being paranoid and neurotic; we’re being prudent and sensible.

It’s simply too long-winded to start all these sentences with, “I’m not sorry and I’m diligently displaying the adequate amount of awareness of potential danger surrounding my tiny child. I don’t fully understand why I’m insulting myself to spare your feelings when you’re clearly an idiot; now please move your knife-sharpening kit away from the Wendy house.”

I appreciate that like all modern movements we are going to need a snappier soundbite. It could be a problematic campaign. I can’t really shorten the aim and say I want to reclaim the N word. That one’s off the table and also it would be a bit misleading.

Then I looked at how language is always evolving and how bae (before anyone else) came into existence, delighting and displeasing people in almost equal measure.

“Sorry to be paranoid and neurotic, but that open bottle of bleach is right next to that sippy cup; I’m just going to move it.”

So I’ve come up with a ‘fun’ emoticon-friendly acronym to get people talking. And, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if they’re impressed or irritated at first…

BAP (Brilliantly Attentive Parent). Now we can say, “Hey, I’m just being a bap; let’s lock that arsenic in a cupboard, away from the biscuits.”

And, if you really like someone’s parents, you can say, “nice baps” which will never get old and be fun for everyone.

But the point is, we will no longer be apologising for diligently keeping our children alive.

So, let’s make the change! People of the world unite. Let’s save the word ‘neurotic’ for the mums actually inserting tracking chips into their children and let the rest of us say together, loud and proud, “I am adequate. ADEQUATE and therefore I am a fantastic bap.”

@Catiewilkins

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Written by Catie Wilkins

Catie Wilkins is a writer, comedian and children’s author who likes jokes and stories.