It’s that time of year where the air hangs heavy with the scent of pumpkin spice and the threat of something spooky lurking around every corner. Along with the creatures that lurk in the shadows and things that go bump in the night I must introduce you to a layer of hell that even Dante didn’t dare to tackle: other people’s children…
Now I’m a pretty maternal person, I pushed my babies in their various prams from the moment I could walk and if you put me near a newborn I quickly turn to goo and start sniffing their head frantically but it’s not all brand new baby smell and teeny feet, those babies grow. They grow into screaming toddlers and then raucous party goers and then, perhaps the scariest, teenagers.
I used to think I could take on anything. I’m an ex ward sister, I’ve dressed down a junior doctor whilst breaking up rowing relatives and administering mouth to mouth but nothing has prepared me for the hell that is a group of children that you are not related to.
It’s a terrifying anarchic free for all. I mean there is something to make your teeth grind in other people’s children of all ages. We’ve all heard that child screaming in the coffee shop, ruining our fifteen minutes of ‘me time’ with our caramel macchiatos, trying to not look annoyed as we know that any one of us could be that mother, heck we have been that mother and so we gurn in a weird ‘I want to show you solidarity fellow mum but also I really really want your child to shut up before my brain bleeds’ kind of way.
You are tasked with the annual hell of birthday parties, of children clinging to your legs as you try and pass around the party bags. You fix that grin to your face whilst your brain half wishes for death & half counts down the minutes until you can pour a large shiraz.
Then come the sleepovers. The screaming at midnight, the constant conflict of trying to be the cool mum whilst wanting to unleash your inner Miss Trunchbull.
They grow and the evolve and so do the horrors. The nasty Snapchats, the swear words you don’t even understand, the ‘Muuuum he stole this’ and ‘so & so hit me’ and you feel utterly inept as you try to navigate the politics of teenage friendships & the even scarier politics of trying to discipline a child that is not yours.
I love children, I do but for every treat there seems to be at least two tricks. When I wake in the night in a cold sweat after remembering the ‘girls night’ I agreed to next weekend there is one thing that gives me comfort. My darling children are other people’s children when they go off to their friend’s houses and they become someone else’s nightmare. Mwahahaha!