OK, I’m going to start this post by clarifying that I LOVE all my friend’s children dearly (even the ones who are a pain in the arse).
If you are my friend and have a child, our relationship and the joy that it brings makes me feel all kinds of warm fuzzies towards your offspring, and I am happy to look after them for you as part of our mutual contract - in exchange for the odd sleepover so I can get ratarsed with my husband. Love you guys!!
Right, now we’ve got that out of the way, allow me to get a few things off my chest. Other people’s children are bloody awful. When they’re not being horrifically behaved, they’re demanding unreasonable things and have a dazzling variety of maddening habits.
Other people’s kids: how do I dislike thee? Let me count the ways...
They Have Irritating Food Preferences
Little Malachy with the permanent snotters and the skin like uncooked pastry doesn’t eat eggs. Or meat. Or wheat. Tomatoes bring him out in a rash. He hates pizza and chips and beans and chicken nuggets and fish fingers and bread and hot dogs and everything else that other kids love. But he loves organic butternut squash! Oh well, never mind, that’s fine. I’m sure I’ve got something in the cupboard for him. LIKE THIS GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN PLANK OF WOOD THAT HE CAN CHEW ON FOR THE DURATION OF THIS PLAYDATE.
They Behave Like Satan's Minions
I’m really not one of those parents who thinks their child is untouchable when it comes to bad behaviour. I am well aware that there are parents out there who would consider my kid to be a little poohead of the highest order. All children - and adults for that matter – have the ability to behave badly. But some children save all their evil for when they come round to your house. They draw on the walls, dump on the bed, break everything and disregard your every word. And they know you have no power. They also know that when their Mum comes round to collect them, you’ll instantly say: ‘He was no trouble at all!’ through your best unconvincing Tony Blair smile.
You Have To Manage Their Micro Needs
Personally I think that by the age of 7 kids are perfectly capable of working in a mill or cleaning out chimneys. But some kids make Nicki Minaj look easy-going.
They demand toast in the shape of a unicorn, trips to the moon and the right temperature of milk in a cup the correct shade of cerulean blue. Whatever you do, it isn’t quite right, because your house isn’t identical to their own home and you are NOT their Mummy. They look at you with accusing eyes thinking ‘why aren’t my Bird’s Eye Potato Waffles sliced perpendicularly?’ and ‘Why does your house smell funny?’ Then they fall apart because they have lost their special bag which is packed with sterilised Tupperware and highly specific comfort items they can’t live without – like a toy with one eye or a snotrag that looks like it came out of the sewer.
They Are Moody Sulkypants
My kid is fairly happy go lucky - unless you take something off him, in which case it’s like the opening credits of an Ingmar Bergman film. But some children are always wary. Suspicious. Non-smiley. They don’t trust you. They’re critical of your entertainment choices (what, pray, is wrong with 2 hours of the Wii while I do Buzzfeed quizzes in the other room?).
Remember Father Stone from Father Ted, who sat in the corner looking miserable for three weeks? Some kids are like that. They have no joie de vivre, no sense of occasion, and they don’t know how to play. And no matter how you try to jolly them along by throwing Haribo at them, they’re like a wet weekend in Bognor. When they grow up, these children will probably work in the council tax department.
The Bottom Line: They're Not Mine
As parents, we have an unbreakable bond with our kids. It’s a silent understanding that says ‘you share my genetic material and I love you’. Other people’s kids however, are a different kettle of fish. They can have pretty much the same habits as your own kid, but still manage to disgust you to the very core. Their bogies, general emissions and crusty dribble give you the dry heaves. Their jokes don’t make you laugh, their questions don’t spark your imagination, and their faces don’t melt your heart. I’m not being mean - it’s just innate. Basically,it’s exactly the same as not minding the smell of your own farts. Other people’s kids are gross and make me want to puke. It’s BIOLOGY, innit?
Unless, as I said before- you are my friend. In which case, none of this applies.