You would think after five years and two children that I would have mastered the basics of this parenting thing by now, and that I would have become adept at avoiding simple parenting rooky errors. Sadly, I haven’t, which may explain why last week, in a moment of madness, I left my five year old unattended for a few moments with an open pot of glitter stars. One week later, and I am still finding the damn things. So far, they have been located in my five year old’s bed, my trainers, the fruit bowl, the tumble dryer lint tray, and inside my toddler’s dirty nappy. It remains a mystery as to whether the star worked its way into the nappy from the outside…or got their by, ahem, other means.
I’m not an idiot, I know that I shouldn’t have left my son with the glitter, and that it was just inviting disaster – my main problem seems to stem from forgetfulness, no doubt fuelled by sleep deprivation. I forgot that my son should not be left unsupervised with glitter, just like I forgot that my son is incapable of going near water without going in it and therefore should be in wellies at all times, and just like I forgot that if I take my daughter out of the bath and leave her without a nappy for two-minutes she will wee all over the bathroom floor. All of these scenarios are ones where if I thought about it carefully in advance, I would know what the correct procedure should be, but for some reason, when faced with two very strong-willed children, my brain freezes, I become reactive rather than proactive, and later, I turn to my husband and say “What was I thinking?”
Whilst many of my “WTF” moments are instant, others are long, drawn out affairs, where my course to disaster is unswayed by the quizzical glances from my friends, or their not so subtle comments of “you’re brave to try that with your kids”. In these situations, I forget that I have to approach tasks differently now I have kids. It’s a lesson I am still learning. Still, as I keep hearing from friends and family who listen to me after wail “WTF was I thinking”, at least I’ll have funny stories to tell my children when they are older, including:
That moment when, on a journey home through a rural area with no chance of a baby changing facility I decided that my then 9 month old son with suspected food intolerances would be fine to wait ten-minutes in his dirty nappy until I got home, given that option B involved pulling over on a country lane and changing him on the backseat. It was apparent when we arrived home and needed to replace the car seat covers that I should have gone for option B.
That moment when I agreed to host a play date for seven toddlers / pre-schoolers and gave the older children free reign upstairs in my son’s room with his Lego. There was Lego in the bath. There was Lego in the toilet. And, despite my strict instructions “not to open Mummy’s bedroom door” there was Lego, a sock, and a lot of biscuit crumbs in my bed.
The Ikea Trip
That moment when I decided that I needed to go to Ikea, and that the best time to do it would be when my husband was away from work and I would have to take the two kids alone. There were tantrums. There was an incident with a food trolley that was used as a battering ram. There was incident that involved an attempt to climb up the boxes in the self-service area. There were tears from all parties involved. Finally, there was one poor man in the car park seeking a space who innocently asked if I was going to be long whilst I attempted to fit a feral five year old, a screaming, over-tired one year old, three items of flat packed furniture and about fifty items from the market place that I really didn’t need in my average sized car. That poor, poor man.
The Long Drive
That moment when I decided that a great family holiday for us would involve a 12 hour drive, followed by a channel crossing and over night stay, followed by another six hour drive, with a boy who gets travel sick. That was my first “WTF was I thinking” moment. The second one came just outside of Rouen, when I decided that the best thing to do to help my poor sick child was to reach back from my position in the front passenger seat and catch his vomit on a hanky. I had to sit with my hand full of vomit under his chin for about ten minutes until we could exit the toll road.
The Birthday Party
That moment when, worried that no one from his class would be able to attend his birthday party due to it being on the same day as another classmate’s party, I decided to invite every child I had ever met. I also decided to do all the entertainment myself, partly to save money, and partly because I was fed up with the usual party entertainers and thought I knew better. Tonight, I’m sat here with a list of 40 children who are attending, surrounded by boxes of pom bears and the cheap plastic tat that comes as standard in modern day party bags, frantically googling “party games for large groups of kids” and wondering how I’m going to fit all the kids and their parents in a tiny village hall. Seriously, WTF was I thinking?