Tag: kids

Parenting: a conundrum

I stumble over a dozen parenting mind-benders between my bedside table and the kettle every morning, it’s not a new phenomenon for me. But recently I encountered one that stopped me in my tracks quicker than a stray piece of LEGO.

For clarity, when I say parenting mind-bender, I mean those moments when your kiddlywinks do something that makes you want to hug them until they burst AND send them for a time-out that lasts their entire adolescence.

It started with one of my little critters running starkers through the living room claiming they needed to drop the kids off. We’d only recently reached that point where you can safely (kind of) assume your kid will tell you they need to go to the toilet, rather than relieve themselves in the bushes beside the swings (it’s happened) or go through five changes of pants in a single 30 minute outing. So, I was pretty impressed with this development.

As a former backpacker who’s travelled through many countries that welcome you with a chronic case of Delhi Belly on arrival, I’m fairly comfortable talking about the various states of distress my digestive system is in.

In fact, I remember fondly leaning over a petrol bowser in Mexico somewhere in agony, while my brother and a dear family friend ran around knocking on all the neighbouring doors asking for ‘el banos, por favour’, like we were trying to escape Jason Bourne. Oh, the glamour of being footloose and fancy free…

My point is, I’m OK with poo talk. I just never thought I’d find myself cheering someone on so passionately. Equally, I never thought I’d be able to deal with having poo all over my hands with the calm nonchalance every parent adopts after a few too many explosive nappies.

You know the kind I mean. Emergency crews wouldn’t be allowed to access the site without full HAZMAT gear and a mobile incinerator on hand, but when your darling little creation is lying on that change table looking like they’ve been rolled like a lamington in a vat of dahl, you just get straight in there and accept the fact that your nappy bag will burst, you’ll burn through at least two packs of wipes and both of you will still need a shower afterwards.

I digress. See, poo talk. OK with it.

Back to my newly toilet-trained offspring. Who, I’ve just realised, has been in the laundry toilet for a while now – much longer than it takes gravity to get things done. And, who, more worryingly, is very, very quiet.

Usually there’s a proud, “mum, come wipe my bum” called out when business is done.

Not today.

My mind instantly peruses the menu of many, many, many tantalising misdemeanours my kid could be getting up to all alone in the toilet…unsupervised. Us adults wouldn’t think it, but there are A LOT of things to entertain you in a laundry toilet. toilet brushes, soap, toilet paper, toilet water…the list goes on.

Obviously, I stopped one of the many jobs I was halfway through doing – folding the laundry on the dining room table, washing up breakfast (after lunch), that Marie Kondo-style spring clean of the pantry I’ve been putting off since we moved in five-ish years ago – and headed straight for the laundry door.

What I found was an absolute delight. My kid was “helping Mummy” by mopping the floor.

Nawww, what a little darling, right?

Well. Before your heart melts too much, ask yourself this:

How’d the mop get wet?

Especially when the only available source of water to my little tike is the toilet. The same toilet they’d recently made a deposit in. The same toilet that didn’t flush afterwards.


I think we can assume the mop they were diligently using went in the toilet with the bobbing little turd, got swished around a bit, then came out and mopped the floor.

Poo floor. Not ideal.

And, so, to the conundrum.

Is the little tike:

a) in a WHOLE lot of trouble for mopping the floor with poo water, or

b) a darling little angel for trying to help mummy keep up with the chores, knowing that poo water is probably more sanitary than the current state of the floor anyway?

Feel free to cast any votes in the comments section.

Flailing at parenting; an open letter

To the Good Samaritan I met at the playground today,

Thank you for reminding me that I’m failing at parenting.

I’m not sure what happened, I just plain forgot to turn on my alarm today – the one that reminds me at least hourly that I could do better, should do better, MUST do better. That I’m spending too little quality time with the most precious and perfect things I’ve ever created and too much time yelling at and bribing them.

It usually pings me with impeccable regularity. Not with the gentle tolling of wind chimes, but a bellowing horn that yells – “YOU’RE SUCKING AT THIS TODAY!”

Before I had the pleasure of meeting you, I can count at least half a dozen occasions before midday when this usually reliable alarm would have tolled. There’s:

  • The Weetbix I forgot to clean off the table this morning before coming to find you that’s now set like concrete. Just between you and me, it’ll probably still be there at dinner time, too (it was).
  • The load of washing that’s sat in the machine for a day now and is likely creating a microbiota all of its own.
  • The laundry that’s been on the line for two days and has nowhere to go because my not one, but TWO, laundry baskets are already full.
  • The food and dirt you would’ve noticed on my kids’ faces at the playground because, God forbid, getting grubby is more fun than looking presentable.
  • The television I caved into when we got home from seeing you without even a skerrick of resistance.
  • The stinky nappy I only discovered after we got home.

You wouldn’t know this, but I’ve been so busy failing at parenting that I’m also excelling at failing at marriage too. I genuinely can’t recall the last time my husband and I sat down to relax on the couch together without waking up at midnight in awkward semi-upright positions needing chiropractic intervention.

The thing is, I didn’t know my alarm was on the blink until I met you. Because, I thought I was actually doing OK (I know, funny, right!). I’d got three kids under five – including a fairly fresh baby – fed and dressed in clothes that were actually ironed. I got us all out of the house and happily playing outdoors by 9:30am. I had a cooler bag full of healthy food for them and I’d even managed to put on enough make-up to (hopefully) not frighten the other children.

So, I feel lucky really. Lucky that there are well-meaning members of the community, like your good self, to remind me just how sub-par my efforts are. For days like today, when I forget. People who have no idea how many hundreds of times I squeeze my kids each day to tell them I love them. People who have no idea how many times I’m up at night calming tearful cries. You looked fresh as a daisy, by the way, sitting on the park bench looking at your phone whilst minding a kid that – judging by your age – you get to give back at the end of your shift.

Thank you for being there today. If it hadn’t been for you, I would’ve forgotten to let myself off the hook occasionally. Because there’s always someone well-meaning around to put you right back on it.

I usually like to sign off letters with cheers or kind regards or love always, but I feel there’s really only one appropriate valediction here.

Up yours,