‘Mummy, what’s this? Is it playdoh?’
I look up to see my child standing in front of me, holding a small pellet of poo. I’m not sure how to respond…this scenario wasn’t mentioned in any of the parenting books I’ve read.
Where on earth has my son found a stray piece of poo? On the floor by the sofa, apparently. But I genuinely have no idea how this happened.
I mean, I know who’s bottom it came from and I can take a pretty good guess at how it escaped from the diaper in which it should have been contained, as I live in a house with two small, hyperactive boys who spend a lot of time climbing and are not that fond of wearing trousers.
But what I really don’t understand is how it managed to remain there unnoticed for goodness knows how many hours.
I vacuum that area of the house EVERY DAY. (Although, not very thoroughly, it would seem.) So now I feel like I’m a terrible mother, a terrible person and a really terrible housekeeper. Embarrassing doesn’t even start to cover it.
In a world where we document each and every #parentingfail, surely this has to be up there with the best of them? It’s not the only incident I could hashtag. Our eldest son used to call Zuma from Paw Patrol’s vehicle a Hovercrap. And we didn’t correct him, we thought it was endearing.
I also don’t think it went down particularly well when, while waiting for our paperwork to be signed off at immigration on the day that we moved to Canada, that same child looked up at the official in front of us and shouted at the top of his voice ‘I don’t like that man, mummy’.
Like many parents, I am frequently mortified when one of my children does something that could be classed as socially ‘on the edge’. Especially as I am sometimes required to collude in these events. I sometimes have flashbacks about the time I had to hold one of them up with arms outstretched while he, trousers around his ankles, peed all over the car park outside LCBO. (Potty training—it’s literally the crappiest part of parenting.)
And it’s a given that at some point each day, you will find me in the kitchen, attempting to cook a meal which my children will almost certainly not eat, wondering where it all went wrong.
I try so hard to do the right thing, make sure they are well brought up, know the difference between right and wrong, say please and thank you… yet they will happily shout in a stranger’s face that they hate him. I spend hours each day washing, cleaning and tidying, and they find the one thing that has slipped through the net. I have a fridge full of healthy meals and snacks, and how am I rewarded? By someone asking me for a poop sandwich.
But here’s the thing. I don’t think any of these things really constitute a #parentingfail. You know what I see? I see my kids chasing each other around the house and falling over in fits of giggles. I watch them playing with the same toys, laughing at the same things, becoming a team. I see the delight on their faces when they run upstairs and jump on their beds, and even though I cringe, anticipating injuries and tears, I also can’t help smiling, because these are happy kids.
They may not always understand what is and isn’t socially acceptable. But why should they? They are toddlers. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether someone is going to be offended by their words or actions, they should be joyful and carefree.
They may have their moments, just as we all do. But in their defence, they have to live with parents who are constantly telling them to be kind and BE CAREFUL and sneak vegetables into their cookies to try to get them to eat something with a reasonable nutrient content, so I think we should cut them a little slack.
For the most part, these are happy, healthy, boisterous boys, who want to learn, explore and share their experiences with us – the people that love them most.
And when I remember this, I realize that despite my worries and all those things that keep me awake at night, these kids are happy, healthy and above all they are loved.
I’m not failing them at all.