Yeah, go on then. What's the thing you most dread your child saying?
I've been reading a parenting book. Noooo not an ordinary parenting book. God knows after 3 kids what I don't know about parenting the 0-11s is probably small enough to scrawl on a postage stamp (you, know one of those sticky things you used to use for snail mail in a previous decade). In fat crayola red crayon.
No, it's a funny parenting book: the sort of book you buy for women when they are having their second child, so you can smugly go cackle in a corner at their foolishness at adding to the brood. Of course you wouldn't have dared buy it for them when they had their first child cos they were too busy reading the 'I can make your baby sleep all night by the age of 3 weeks' book and 'the book of how to be a sex kitten mummy even though your fanny has dropped to your ankles'. Anyway, I digress.
It's a book called 'Can I give them back now?' by -er let me check the cover - Joanna Simmons and Jay Curtis.
Why am I telling you this? Well the reason I got it out from the library is because I opened it and the page fell open at this and I thought Oh God, that is so me. In fact it is so me that I think my house must be bugged:
"The worst thing a kid can say is not 'you don't love me' but 'can you play with me?' ...
...Before you have children you think playing with them is what it's all about. Once you have them, you realise it is, in fact, a special brand of torture devised by young people to inflict upon adults. Well, they want to play such stupid stuff. I'm too old to go running up the corridor in search of baddies, OK? I'm thirty-seven, for crap's sake. I can't fly like Superman, even if I do make a cape out of a beach towel. And, oh Christ, do we have to take the register again, 'Teacher'? How many times already?
There is also the risk that you will be 'doing it wrong' which really flips your kid out, but it's hard to avoid since the rules are unclear/only exist in your child's head/are so bloody ridiculous you can't follow them. So the whole act of playing can descend into outraged and heated exchanges between you and your child, which is just a giant pain in the arse for both of you.
Admittedly some of the problems with playing are our own. We feel self-conscious and silly. We're not used to acting and big gestures and we never have the stamina or enthusiasm to play for as long as they want. Early-years experts say that half an hour of immersing yourself in your child' s game, doing absolutely whatever they want, is more valuable than hours of saying 'that's nice, dear' while you try to sort out the laundry. But half an hour! You ARE joking. Five minutes feels like an eternity. You want thirty? It's just so so so boring. I don't mind a jigsaw puzzle and I can just about manage some throw and catch, but anything else makes me feel so fidgety and oppressed that I want to scream or cry or both.
Basically kids need to play with each other, not us. When are they going to realise?"
So what do you dread your children saying? What's the worst thing about being a parent? Go on, you know you want to get it off your two-peas-rattling-around- in-two-34A sacks-because-you-breastfed-a-mini-Dyson chest.