It’s half past ten and I’m sat on the sofa watching The Smurfs in Hungarian (or Törpikék for all you Hungarian language purists out there). The bedroom door creaks open and an exhausted Zsuzsa emerges, her half-dead eyes staring in to space as she staggers across the apartment and slumps on the sofa alongside me, finally free from her baby overlord. I know how she feels. I’ve only moments earlier freed myself from my toddler tormentor. Although to be fair I didn’t have it quite so bad. I didn’t have a nipple obsessed parasite draining me dry.
A few minutes pass as we watch The Smurfs in fatigue fuelled silence.
“I don’t understand how people cope.” I eventually say.
“Huh?” responds Zsuzsa.
“With more than two kids. How do people survive with three or more children? I mean, more children than hands. It just doesn’t work. Basic maths.”
“I agree. No more children.”
“I’ve been thinking about this and, essentially, the essence of good parenting is all about man marking. You need at least one parent to man mark one child. Two parents can effectively man mark two children if they perform to their potential, but three children? There’d always be a free man! Carnage!”
Zsuzsa just stars at The Smurfs. I take this as a cue to continue my parenting masterclass.
“Parents of three or more kids, I guess, would need to deploy zonal marking. But as everyone knows, it’s a floored system. All kinds of problems at corners.”
Zsuzsa just shrugs.
“The zonal marking system! A defensive strategy where defenders cover an area of the pitch rather than marking a specific opponent? Rafa Benitez is a big advocate.”
Zsuzsa looks at me blankly. Sometimes it amazes me that my Hungarian wife has so little knowledge of the intricacies of football defensive strategies.
Meanwhile Smurfette has just been kidnapped. Naturally, Papa Smurf is besides himself with worry.
“And leaving the house! I don’t understand how parents of more than two children ever manage to leave the house. It would take us weeks!” I say.
This is true. It takes us, on average, about an hour and a half to just pop to the shops to buy milk if either of the children are in tow.
“That’s mostly Mila’s fault” replies Zsuzsa. “She’s so bloody picky about clothes! Such a little princess!”
“I guess. You know she’s going to be a very high maintenance girlfriend one day? I can picture it now. She’ll be at university and some poor fella won’t bring her warm milk when she asks for it, or he’ll try to put the football on when she’s watching The Smurfs. Ape-shit! She’ll go ape-shit!”
“I hope Lola won’t be as hard work.”
“I think she’ll be fine, as long as her fella keeps her well fed. He’ll need tough nipples though.”
The Smurf’s are hatching a plan to save Smurfette. Things are about to get real when…
A baby cry.
A toddler whine.
We prise ourselves from the sofa, high-five and go back in to battle.
Rinse and repeat.
Rinse and repeat.