1. It’s another Wednesday morning. Yet again you notice your child has been wearing the same gear to her childminders for the last two days running. Do you:
a) Coordinate a new, clean outfit from scratch
b) Dampen a towel and attempt to wash off the stains to take the bad look off it
c) Ignore the stains and your shame, and bundle her into the car. You’re too late for this shit.
2. A visiting friend thrusts a box of chocolate into your toddler’s hands on arrival. Do you:
a) Stage a Mary Poppins show (full costume, if possible) to help distract her from the drugs and prise them off her while she’s singing her lungs out to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
b) Initiate some plea bargaining and shuttle diplomacy between you and her Dad to negotiate a compromise with the promise of
one OK, two sweets once she eats her dinner
c) Clobber your visitor with a cucumber. Lock yourself in the bedroom with the child, remaining there until you’ve both calmed down, emerging to a burnt dinner with chocolate stains around both your mouths
3. Your neighbour is having a birthday party for her child at one of those play centres and invites your little one along. You don’t know a soul but half an hour in, you find yourself getting comfortable with one parent you’ve been chatting to. Do you:
a) Look around and, with an over-weaning smile, declare how wonderful an event it is, and how brilliant it is to spend time with other parents
b) Stay in the background hovering around the requisite level of small-talk with courtesy and civility assured at all times
c) Get a little too relaxed on the child’s chair that can accommodate only one of your arse-cheeks and wonder aloud if the other mother thinks this is ‘hell’ also. Before a tumbleweed rolls idly by you both and you casually shuffle away to go and hang out with the small ones.
4. Your toddler occasionally catches you having sneaky drinks of Coke (zero) from the fridge. She demands to know what it is. Do you:
a) Tell her it’s a drink for grown-ups only, that if taken at her age will result in her becoming morbidly obese by the time she’s six and/or on the front page of the Irish Daily Mail.
b) Smile, and exclaim “what are you talking about?” as you wipe the Coke ronnie from your lip.
c) Tell her it’s your medicine. She knows Coke is a bad word and will only grass on you.
5. You meet an experienced Mother weaning her second child onto solids at four months. Do you:
a) Say “
I’m not racist but” “Each to their own, it’s totally your choice. Fair play to you. You have to do what’s right for you”. Then give out about her on an anonymous parenting website.
b) Smile and ask her to remind you how old the child is again. Then let it hang in the air for a second before asking if she’s planning on eating that last biscuit.
c) Tell her you got off to an over-eager start at six months but fell back into lazy ways and that your one is still taking a bottle and only eats ReadyBrek at three years. Then say you made that up, and hope she half laughs. Then hope she stops looking at you funny.
6. You get talking to a grandparent you know in the GP waiting room. She proudly announces her daughter recently gave birth to her second child. Her first is younger that your toddler. She asks you outright if you ever planned on having a second child. Do you:
a) Smile and say, “With God’s blessing, we will have another so our poor child is spared the worst fate of all – having no siblings.” Then don’t move your hand as she places hers on top it a la a woman with 30 years quality Vincent de Paul volunteering under her belt.
b) Shrug it off with an “Ah sure you never know” before asking her the time.
c) Tell her you weren’t prepared to take the risk in case the child turned out like the last one. Then laugh. Inanely, if necessary.
7. It’s Sunday morning. You’re on the early parenting shift. Do you:
a) Cheerfully clear up the breakfast table to make way for some ‘craft time’
b) Decide on a little TV time before getting dressed and going for a walk
c) Haul the gigantic sheep fur-lined blanket down stairs and give a half-running commentary to the items on the re-run of the best bits of TV3 AM from under it
8. You gradually get chatting to the mother of one of the children that attends the same childminders. Do you:
a) Respond enthusiastically to her suggestion of a coffee and fix a time there and then
b) Invite them round to your house knowing this is the only possible way you’re going to get around to cleaning it
c) Scurry back to the car after hearing yourself voluntarily utter the term “play date” and wonder aloud what you have become
9. You read about all these play dates these mothers and children go on. Do you:
a) Nod, knowing it is a great way to meet other mothers and start stalking every mother in the childminder’s car-park
b) Wonder if it’s mandatory to stay at the play date, or if it’s possible to drop your child off while you go and have a proper coffee
c) Wonder if you will ever be able to say ‘play date’ again with a straight face
10. Your child wants you to paint with them. Do you:
a) Beat her to it. The table is already cleared, the paints are in transit from the top shelf.
b) Promise to do so after you’ve read the very important paper you refer to as “work”
c) Ask her to ask her Da
11. Butternut squash is:
a) A healthy and nutritious vegetable
b) The first stage in the production of peanut butter
c) An extreme sport
12. Your toddler is staying over in her grandparents’ (your in-laws) house for the night. She’ll be there for dinner. Do you:
a) Pack some roasted butternut squash and fruit into her overnight bag for later
b) Tell her grandmother she’ll have whatever they’re having
c) Hope that whatever they’re having includes a tin of spaghetti
13. Your two year old frees herself from the straps of the car-seat while you’re driving. Do you:
a) Calmly pull over and hop in to re-adjust them
b) Not notice until you’ve pulled in to wherever you were going and shudder
c) Have a melt-down and pull into the nearest bus-stop holding up the traffic for a few minutes to re-arrange the straps
14. You and your partner are having a disagreement. Your child is present. Do you:
a) Agree to talk about it later when your child is in bed
b) Continue talking calmly until it’s resolved or ignore each other
c) Passively aggressively direct the communication through your child. “What will we do about Mum. The silly billy” .
15. If you had to…you know..
a) Justin/Mr. Tumble
b) The tall curly-haired presenter on Cbeebies that occasionally goes on safari
c) Mr. Bloom(ing gorgeous)
With all your excessive care and consideration, you’re headed for a break-down and a referral to social services for creating a land of make-believe so inconsistent with the adult world you’re in danger of permanently messing up your kids cognitive development. There’s no point worrying about breaking the news about the fiction of Santa when they will attempt to “take their turn” in real grown-up life with devastating consequences. And not every hurt can be sung away with the theme tune from Frozen or a
lollipop piece of fruit. Cut down on the *grimaces* play dates, and aim for more *grimaces* me time. It’ll serve you and your child far better. Take the day off cooking, and bring them to MacDonald’s. They’ll get a free balloon so it won’t be a totally wasted visit. No-one will see you because it’s conveniently located out of town, but not too far. Besides, all your Mummy friends WOULDN’T DREAM of going there.They’ll probably be just leaving as you’re arriving.
They say parents try to do their best. Doing the minimum is the best some of them can do, including you. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re managing to navigate the assault course of parenting doing 60 MPH in third gear but you’ll get there eventually, even if the vehicle will be clapped out on arrival. Keep an eye on the wine consumption. If you’re reading articles about the rise of alcohol as a coping mechanism for parenting, then it probably is you they’re talking about. It doesn’t matter that your partner is on 10 cans of Dutch Gold and 40 Benson & Hedges a day. You’re the mother, right? So it all falls on you remember. You might’ve read about it. On a blog somewhere.
The model parent. Other mothers can only strive to reach your levels of rearing perfection. Would you like to go on a play date with me?