10 THINGS KIDS LOVE THAT PARENTS HATE
As a parent, nothing brings you greater joy than
a weekend away from your kids your child’s happiness. It brings a warm glow to see your offspring content and smiling and enjoying themselves. Also, when they’re enjoying themselves, they’re not giving you a hard time or following you round the house.
And so it is that we give them things with which to keep themselves amused and get them smiling. Sadly, more often than not, the things that bring the most joy to our children just… don’t bring us the same amount of joy.
We’ve picked the 10 things our kids love that wind us up no end. Starting with part one today, to send you into the weekend nodding furiously in agreement, and finishing with part two next week, so you can start the week off making a mental note to have a word with yourself next time you think crafting is a lovely idea.
It is widely acknowledged within the parenting community that stickers are a form of hush money. They’re the quiet currency that we give to our children in the hope that it will keep them busy on a flight or at a restaurant, so as not to have to resort to iPad/mobile guilt straight away. But they get bored within five minutes and demand the iPad anyway.
Instead, children prefer stealth stickering – decorating the entire house with sticky cars, princesses and CBeebies characters while we’re asleep or not looking. They have no care whether you’ve spent ages selecting expensive cool furniture for their playroom, nor are they bothered by your painstaking customisation of an Ikea bookshelf with shabby chic paint colours or upholstering. No item/wall/door/pet is safe from stickers.
You will walk through your house finding them everywhere, in all kinds of arrangements (my son spent a good hour arranging a pack of neon dot stickers into smiley face designs all over his bedroom, from the floor to the lamp shades to his pillow). And it is with great certainty that you will of course discover them on yourself – usually at work, when a colleague asks whether you intended to wear Mr Bloom’s cocky smiling face on your breast that day.
Where to begin with bubbles? Such seemingly innocuous, whimsical things. All kids delight in a tube of rainbow-tinted bubbles. But once you’ve popped… the fun stops. Attempt to assist a toddler in holding their tube so that the solution doesn’t spill, and you will be pushed away. Seconds later, the entire contents of the tube will be a sad foaming puddle on your kitchen floor. A moment of silent horror before the wailing starts. If you manage to get any further than that, you might be lucky enough to endure the tears when they are not able to blow their own bubble. Or when the bubbles pop (who knew?). Or when the solution runs out. Or when their older brother wants a turn and you only have one tube (you deluded fool) and they fight over it and snatch at it. And spill it. Again.
You think you’ve prepared. You’ve been here before, and you’re certain this time that you’ve contained the mess with your shallow plastic bowls and your trays and by the fact that you’ve smugly covered your table with a plastic cloth and are heavily supervising the glitter shakers. But you will find sparkly grains all over your house and in the entire family’s hair (and pants) for months. The cat will have more glitz than a Vegas warm-up act. You’ll get serious side-eye from your boss in the team meeting as they try to work out why your eyebrows seem to reflect the sun.
Of course the real fun comes when you add more than one child to your sparkly endeavours. Buckle up and prepare for a glitter fight, because it doesn’t matter that you’ve sensibly bought every colour shaker under the rainbow, as they will ALL WANT THE SAME ONE.
As all parents know, there is no pain like the pain when you tread, unshod, on a piece of Lego. And this stuff gets everywhere – behind sofas, in the bath, in their schoolbag… Not only does it add to the general mess and chaos of living with children, but it brings you closer to the edge of therapy, as your little angel will be in end-of-the-world tears if they can’t find the right head/hair/mask/tool for today’s favourite character. Or they’ll SCREAM at you if you can’t find the little red shiny thingy that goes on top of the thing with the wings.
You need to have a photographic memory of every model they’ve ever built and will need to mentally track each piece all round your house like a Lego CIA agent, so you know where all parts are at all times. Getting them to tidy it up and keep it all in one organised place is futile. Tidying Lego is no fun for small children when they can instead spend their time losing their minds trying to click two fiddly blocks into position.
Also, why is it just assumed that all parents have in-built Lego skills and can easily craft all manner of designs with the help of a flimsy instruction manual, while cooking dinner and making a lunchbox and putting a wash on? THE PRESSURE. And of course, let’s not forget, unless you SUPERGLUE the stuff together, there’s always the chance bits will break off during play, which always goes down really well.
5 PLAY DOUGH
Much like glitter, it doesn’t really matter how carefully you lay tubs of dough out on your table, and how much space you give them to get creative in, because tiny bits of it will always be on the floor, squashed into your carpet, into their clothes, your clothes, under all of your fingernails… They will mix the colours, which will give your not-especially-well-hidden OCD side palpitations. Then they themselves will start to cry because the colours are ‘all brown’.
You will have put out a display of play dough-appropriate tools for them to get artistic with (rolling pin, cutters, stamps), but they will eschew these and manage to get their hands on your best pen or your hairbrush or the remote control when you turn your back to peel a blob off the floor. You’ll be picking dried-out dough from the inside of the lid/the bristles/in between the tiny buttons for weeks.
READ PART 2 NOW! If crafting and kids’ magazines drive you round the bend…
As discussed in 10 Things Kids Love That Parents Hate Part 1, we do a lot of things to keep our offspring happy (and give us a precious half an hour to trawl Instagram, er, clean the house and get the dinner on). Keeping the young'uns amused and busy with any engrossing activity that tears them away from their best friend The iPad for a few moments makes us feel good about parenting. Plus look at that happy little face! So why wouldn't we want to provide them with things that make them smile? Because some of those things make life for us Hell On Earth. That's why...
Sadly, the things that bring our kids joy just... don't do it for us
My first child was a boy. At my 20-week scan with baby number two, we discovered we were having a girl, and after a couple of years of boy clothes and toys - despite having some seriously lovely clothes and toys for my son - the temptation to go out and buy something unashamedly girlie was intense. But once I'd got a few pink items out of my system, I was quite determined that she wasn't going to be a floaty pastel cliche of girldom. And whenever a family member would buy her a pink outfit or shoes, despite whether I liked it or not, I almost felt embarrassed putting her in it. It seemed so obvious and blatant and, well, standard
... from holidaying with the kids. As we've just returned from a nine-day break in the South of France with our two Small Ones, I thought I'd scare, er, share with you the valuable insights I've gleaned from our little jaunt. Sharing is caring, after all, and if it allows you to feel more prepared for your own holiday en famille - or at the very least provides you with the reassurance that it's Not Just You - then my work here is done.