Children think nothing of humiliating us into talking to dolls and drinking invisible tea out of little teacups. They’re quite happy for us to play games with no discernible rules that always seem to end in carnage with Mummy screaming: ‘I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT!’ and bashing her head on the coffee table. And whether you’re making the dinner or knee deep in nappy changing land, they expect you to jump up and go on the 15,000th Bear Hunt of the day as if you’re in a Broadway show.
But when WE need them to do something that bores them senseless, like getting dressed, or coming with us while we pay a bill or go shopping for food, it’s a different story. STROP-A-RAMA. I mean, how could you make them stand in a queue? HOW? How could you ask them to attend to their basic needs so that they don’t pee themselves/get rotten teeth/have a face covered in jam and bogies until they’re 18? Are you some kind of a monster?
Ask a kid to co-operate with you, and nine times out of ten, their eyes roll back into their heads, their mouths pucker like an octogenarian trying to suck their dinner through a straw, and they let out an almighty roar that could shatter the front window of the International Space Station. Even the quiet, co-operative ones don’t like going with you to the hairdressers or the opticians, or - heaven forbid – the gynaecologist. But sometimes, needs must. Life ain’t all unicorns and My Little Pony and loom bands. Sometimes you’ve got to sit with your back to your Mum, playing on her phone while she has a smear test. (Sorry, kids).
At the moment, my own child is going through a somewhat uncooperative phase. Basically, he doesn’t like anything that doesn’t involve Stampy Longnose (anyone without a Minecraft obsessed 7 year old will have to look it up – actually, don’t – you will feel your life slowly ebbing away), tennis, football, Peter Capaldi and Mario Kart.
Ask him to go to the post office with you, and you may as well suggest that he dresses as a Disney Princess and cartwheels down the street to the strains of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come.’ Nope, if the Post Office doesn’t have Peter Capaldi winning the World Cup while he rides round Marioland in a tiny car and turns into a mushroom, he doesn’t want to know.
OK, so I understand that kids might not feel jazzed about doing an adult errand. Usually, when adults have to do things, they bump into other parents on the street and then they start shrieking at each other and cackling for what seems like days. Meanwhile, kids have to spend half an hour gently nudging a dog turd with a stick, or sitting a wet finger into a junction box. Boo-oring. I vividly remember the feeling of torpor as I waited for my Mum when she chatted to people, watching her mouth and wondering how there could be SO MANY WORDS COMING OUT OF IT.
But come on. We do everything for the little buggers darlings, yet a single moment of not doing exactly what they want to do ends in a meltdown. As parents, we’re not even allowed to roll around in a shopping centre and yell ‘IT’S NOT FAIR’ while showing our knickers and dribbling snotters out of our noses. Why do we have to get a raw deal?
I reckon that kids need to suck it up and do more boring stuff. We’re so obsessed with taking them to Disneyland and trying to get their faces to light up with unbridled joy that we can’t even get them to come with us while we try a bra on. I mean, nobody wants to see their Mum’s knockers, but we have lives too. We need support! (Both metaphorically and literally, if you have tired old lady 38DD bazoomas like me).
But sometimes, these boring or Mum-centred adult errands are more trouble than they’re worth, and you end up putting off the necessary but dull stuff off for another day, because you can’t bear the thought of dragging the kids along to the Bank manager at Barclays and watching as they deface all the check-in slips. As we know, taking them anywhere potentially boring can lead to all kinds of problems – after all, the last thing you need is a viral CCTV video of your child doing a wee in Homebase.
But I say kids need more dull stuff. Forget the cinema, and go on a family trip to the B&Q screws and washers aisle instead! Take them with you when you’re filling in forms at the dentists, and let them experience the true adrenaline rush of being an adult. After all, they’re always saying that they can’t wait to be grown up…