They’re those oh-so-familiar expressions that we’ve been happily rattling off for years… then you have children yourself and you realise they have absolutely no basis in fact. Who came up with these time-honoured sayings, anyway? Certainly nobody whose spent any time with my kids.
Expression: ‘Like taking candy from a baby’
A cliché meant to infer that something is very easy. Well. Have they ever attempted trying to remove a sweet treat from the possession of an infant? Even a baby who doesn’t know what lollies are is highly unlikely to give up the exciting new colourful blob that they are now holding with a vice-like grip in their tiny paw. As for any small child who has sampled candy before and knows what it’s all about, rest assured, they will not be giving that shit up. Not without a fight, anyway. And a full-blown, red-faced apoplectic tantrum that will have everyone within a ten-mile radius looking at you in horror and disgust as you try to wrestle the sugary delight from their grasp. Easy? Non.
Expression: ‘The pitter-patter of tiny feet’
Suggesting that someone will soon be blessed with the delicate sounds of children’s footsteps tapping gently down the hall. Now let me tell you, children’s feet may be tiny, but they do not pitter-patter. From the moment those little tootsies are making contact with the floor, they thump. They thunder. They stampede like a herd of baby elephants. Or even fully grown ones. They make windows rattle, heads pound and next-door neighbours complain. Raindrops pitter-patter. Tiny feet do not. Not the ones in my house, anyway.
Expression: ‘Children should be seen and not heard’
Did this age-old expression ever work? Did the generations before us actually find a way to make this happen? One that didn’t involve the use of a wooden spoon and/or belt as a form of corporal punishment? If so, can you pleeeease tell me the secret. I would really love for my children not to be heard. Or at least, to be heard at a slightly lesser volume. Even when they can’t be seen, they can be heard. And ironically, if they can’t be seen and they can’t be heard, that’s the most dangerous combination of them all. Rest assured, it’s not because they are quietly playing in their rooms. They are UP TO SOMETHING.
Expression: ‘Slept like a baby’
Surely the most ludicrous expression ever. What smug bastard coined this phrase that suggests that a baby sleeps well all through the night? It’s time we started re-using this term more appropriately.
Eg. ‘Gee Trevor, what’s wrong with you? You look like hell.’
‘Tell me about it. I slept like a baby last night.’
‘You poor bugger. What happened?’
‘Mate, I lay in bed for a while, and then I needed to do a poo, and then I just couldn’t get to sleep, no matter how many songs I sang to myself. I finally dropped up for a couple of hours but then I was really thirsty and needed a big drink. Then when I finally got to sleep I ended up weeing in my bed. I’d finally changed the sheets and was just dropping off when I chucked up everywhere. Then I did another poo and had a nightmare.’
‘Man, I hate nights like that.’
Expression: ‘Weak as a baby’
Once again, a phrase clearly created by someone who’s never had a baby. Who’s never had to try to change a nappy on a high change table while a wild bucking bronco tries with their considerable might to roll over. Who’s never had to try to insert into a car seat a resistant child who’s become so rigid they may as well be a plank of wood. Who’s never been kicked in the head with considerable force by a restless co-sleeper. Who’s never had their hair yanked, nipples crippled, heads butted or faces gouged enough to bring tears to your eyes. The strength of babies never ceases to amaze me.
Can you think of any other baby phrases that make absolutely no sense? Other than ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’? (Because, like, as if a baby would fit through the plug hole…)