Just six short years ago, I remember a friend talking to me about her son.
‘He’s obsessed with Diego,’ she told me.
‘You know, Diego. Dora’s cousin.’
‘Dora. DORA. THE. EXPLORER.’
I probably just blinked slowly. I was so young and innocent then. So… childless. My mind unbesmirched with such issues as how to treat cradle cap, what a nasal aspirator does and how to fill out a childcare rebate form. *sighs wistfully*
Now five years and two kids down, I’m so firmly entrenched in all things parenty that even Cranky the Crane couldn’t haul me out. And from this crazy land, I can safely say there are things that I was completely ignorant of pre-children that I am now so very, very over. Here are my top ten.
1. Nappy bags.
Well yes, of course, also nappies and the contents that lie therein, that goes WITHOUT SAYING. But it’s the nappy bags (which they brazenly tell you are scented, as though that IN ANY WAY disguises the stench within) that drive me nuts. It doesn’t help that it’s one of my daughter’s favourite past-times to pull them out one by one and chuck them on the floor, but those little suckers just end up everywhere. There’s a handful in the bottom of my handbag, as if my key/phone rummaging wasn’t challenging enough already; there’s one in every ‘muddle drawer’ of the house (we have a few), and others just seem to work their way under every table, bench, chair, crevice of the house/car/backyard. They’re everywhere, I tell you, EVERYWHERE!
2. Duplo. Lego. Etc.
When you buy your first box of Lego, you’re essentially saying goodbye to ever having a clean house again. And to ever being able to put your bare foot on the floor feeling confident that you’re not about to experience crippling, screech-inducing pain. Entire Pinterest pages have been set up purely to demonstrate ways to store those little buggers. But hey, great for the little ones’ creativity, imagination and fine motor skills and all that. Unfortunately.
Such a great idea in theory. Cheap, bright, colourful, fun for all ages! Well yes, but for many of the first years it will be your fingernails that painstakingly prise away every last one. Then your child will insist on doing it themselves which means there will inevitably be tears – and tears. And then there’s the matter of where they go. Do you just stick them on another bit of paper? Does that not seem a bit pointless? And it’s more likely your little one will choose to stick them on their high chair, the dining table, the floorboards, anywhere where it’s guaranteed that when you try to remove them, a little half torn strip of sticker will remain – sometimes for many years. (Time to get that fingernail to use again.)
4. Thomas. And His Friends.
Oh, if only I knew what I was starting when I bought my first over-priced pieces of wooden railway a couple of years ago. The behemoth that is the world of Thomas – and all his friends, and all the accessories, and all of the various different railways (none of which work together, natch), and the books, and the DVDs and the Accidents Happen song/vids on YouTube (which I’m sure will be the subject of its own post, such is the level of its painfulness). How many times have I wondered why my handbag is so heavy, only to find five different trains nestled on a bed of nappy bags down the bottom? How many times have I trodden on a train in the middle of the hall late at night? How many times have I unscrewed the tiny screw at the bottom to change the batteries on a train? How many times have I heard (and sung) the Thomas song… and that damn Accidents Happen tune?! How many train tracks have I built – and how many times have I hunted for that elusive male/male train track that is never there when I need it the most? How many different trains have I made acquaintances with, and learnt the catchphrases of. O THE INDIGNITY!!
5. Water bottles.
Yes, it’s very convenient to have water on tap for thirsty little mouths. But one guess whose handbag they get lugged around in all day. (Yes, my bag is very heavy and I frequently suffer from back pain, thank you for asking.) I’m also yet to find a bottle that doesn’t end up having a leak (so to speak) in my handbag – usually onto precious documents and/or my phone.
6. Straps and buckles.
Of course, little bodies must be protected so that little kamikaze children can’t fling themselves from prams/car seats/high chairs and the like. But oh, fiddle me diddle! Why is it when you’re always in the biggest hurry that the straps contort themselves into the biggest twists? Why do children always sit on the between-the-legs bit so that you have to grovel under their butts for half an hour to extract them? And why hasn’t anyone invented a buckle or clasp that isn’t guaranteed to pinch little baby skin and give mothers more of a guilt complex than they already have?
7. Nail clippers.
Speaking of guilt complexes, is there any way at all to snip the nails of a small fidgety child without, at some stage, inflicting grievous bodily harm? And what is it with kids and they’re freakily fast-growing fingernails? Seriously, the day after I cut my daughter’s fingernails, I turn around and she’s got these Dynasty-era Joan Collins talons going on. Fortunately my son likes pulling off his own nails, a bad habit, I know, but one I’m loathe to cure as it means one less reason to wield the nail clippers (aka weapons of mass destruction).
A word of advice, do not let your children know that there is an alternative to pencils. Because once they’ve gone texta, they’ll never go back. And no good comes from texta. Texta bad. Texta messy. Texta destroys clothing and all in its wake. Texta lids can never be found. And if there’s one thing worse than texta, it’s dried up texta that doesn’t work. Or maybe it is good. I don’t know.
9. Play dough.
I spent the first couple of years of my son’s life desperately waiting for him to be old enough to play with play dough… and have been trying to discourage him ever since. I get that it’s good squidgy fun, a lovely sensory activity, yada yada yada, but I start getting nervous when all the different colours are mashed together, I want to sob at the little bits that get squished into the carpet and before too long, it starts getting all hard and you end up trying to play with a rock hard, crumbly slab. Play dough… it’s a minefield! And while we’re on the subject of mines…
I don’t even know what this is yet – mercifully my children are too young – but I already know it is something to be very fearful of. Is it possible to bypass it altogether? How can I avoid this terrifying beast?
PS This list is by no means exhaustive. I could go on. And on. What are your hair-tearers?