Parenting may be relentless, exhausting, and sometimes even a tiny bit rewarding, but it’s never dull.
As a worn-out mom of three under twelve, this is what I’d like to tell the new kids on the block — the parents who have barely survived the first seven months or so and have now convinced themselves they are down with parenting.
Sure, you can feed her while scrolling your Instafeed, you can burp him in your sleep, and one of these days, you might even get three uninterrupted hours of sleep. But let me tell you, once kids start putting a few words together, they will surprise you, not always in a good way.
Soon, kids will use those words against you when they speak their tiny little minds. Kids often verbalize what they see, which might not always work out well for their accompanying adult, i.e., you. Yes, your cute babe in arms will grow up and mortify you. And when it happens, it will catch you completely off guard.
Trust me, I speak from hard-won experience. With three kids under twelve, I have seen enough behavior that will turn even the most inscrutable poker face puce, not just from my kids but also from my friends’ offspring.
They say stuff in their outside voice in front of you that no one (besides you) needs to hear.
Let me explain. Out and about, you will encounter people who look different from you and your kids. They might be unfeasibly tall, follically challenged, or wear clothes they found in the bottom of the charity bin. Perhaps all three.
One day, my friend was out buying a carton of milk and a bunch of bananas. My friend spotted the person behind her in the checkout queue too late. ‘Mum, why is Shrek wearing a dress?’ blurted out her five-year-old. When the blue terrazzo tiles wouldn’t swallow her up, she grabbed her son’s hand, picked up the bananas, and fled the scene. Only to be called back by the bold-headed lady holding her carton of milk aloft.
What can you do when faced with something like this?
My advice would be to run unless you can think of something kind or funny quickly.
2. They say embarrassing things about you when you’re not there to defend yourself.
This particular pickle is trickier than the one above because you find out later when the damage is done, so there is no point in defending yourself. Laughing is probably the best remedy.
That is just what my friend, Sam, did when her daughter’s kindergarten teacher repeated the comment her little girl had made about her father. When the teacher asked her about her father’s job, she replied, ‘he doesn’t do much. He lies on the sofa in his pj’s.’
Luckily, quick-witted Sam quickly recovered by recalling her partner’s man-flu that left him tied to the sofa for a fortnight.
What can you do?
3. Their behavior on playdates might not be exemplary
In my hundred (Mom years are like dog years; you’ll see.) years of being a mom, I have been on countless playdates with my kids. Most of them aren’t official, just a play in the park.
However, I’m always amazed how quickly an innocent outing can turn into a situation even a hardened UN negotiator would find tricky, especially when your kids won’t play ball.
I’ve had to supervise many embarrassing standoffs with my kids and their playmates. But luckily, because my children are bilingual, I can usually talk sense into them without prying ears. That helps.
My cousin isn’t as lucky.
When her youngest was in her biting phase, she spent hours apologizing to her mom-friends, who seemed to be in a dwindling supply. (Funny that)
My cousin is usually pretty sharp. But only when her little girl bit her best friend’s sleeping puppy, prompting an ugly toddler fight, did a realization finally dawn.
She retreated from playdates until her daughter grew out of her habit.
What can you do?
If there are fights, tears, and tantrums (and that’s just the parents), I find the best thing is to take some time out with your kids and have a quiet chat away from their friends. Then once everyone is calm, a diversion is best. And that’s how you end up eating ice cream at half nine in the morning on a cold day.
It all boils down to this
So there you have it, I hate to say it, but that innocent little mite will grow up to embarrass you. But don’t worry, children grow into teens, and then we can turn the tables on them. It’s like, our duty
You’ll find me in my kitchen, practicing my best mum dance moves until that time.