1It’s rarely a good thing when they’re quiet
You know the feeling. You’re suddenly aware the house is silent. There’s no shouting or squabbling (if you’ve got more than one child); nobody’s teasing the cat; you’ve just been able to take a shower without someone banging on the door asking for food.
You breathe a sigh of relief. And then panic sets in. What are they doing?
Investigate. Right now. There’s every chance you’ll find them recreating a Picasso masterpiece in felt-tip pens on their bedroom walls.
2Your kid might be a genius at home, but will forget everything in public
Whether it’s reciting the ABC, an encyclopaedic knowledge of Greek gods or belting out a version of ‘Shake It Off’ that would put Taylor Swift to shame, your child’s talents are non-existent in public.
Try as you might to coax them into showing off their party-piece, shyness will take over and the best you’ll get is a few mumbled words as they bury their heads in the safety of your shirt.
3‘The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.’
Lane Olinghouse summed it up perfectly with this one.
They’ve been otherwise engaged all morning, watching back-to-back episodes of Sesame Street or trying to plait the dog’s fur. You’ve finished the chores and are ready to put your feet up.
No chance. That’s the moment your kids will demand you teach them to ride a bicycle/find the missing football/have an in-depth conversation about whether The Avengers would beat the Jurassic World dinosaurs in a fight.
4Sometimes, ‘because it just is’ is the only answer
We promised ourselves. No matter how many questions they asked, we vowed we’d answer our children patiently and explain whatever it was they wanted to know.
Somewhere between ‘Why is that beetle on its back?’ and ‘Why is Nana’s car blue?’ we snapped and gave in. ‘Because it just is,’ we said
Don’t feel bad. We’ve all done it.
5Babies always fall asleep at the most inconvenient moment
Most of the time, we want them to sleep. At 3am we’d give pretty much anything for half an hour of blissful silence.
But every parent comes to realise naps are only guaranteed at certain times – like five minutes before you need to get ready for the school run or a doctor’s appointment.
Within ten minutes of home on the way back from an outing is a favourite, too. You know you can’t leave them asleep outside in the car alone, but you also know that once you wake them up to go inside, they won’t go off again for hours.
6Older kids will happily sleep until lunchtime – unless it’s the weekend
On school days, you have to prise them out of bed with a crowbar. No amount of gentle cajoling or shoulder-shaking will rouse them. Sleeping Beauty has nothing on them.
Unless it’s the weekend, or the holidays. Then they’re up and bouncing around at 5am, shouting at you to WAKE UP because the sun is shining and they want to go to the park.
Oh, and letting them stay up late so you all get a lie-in really doesn’t work. You’ll learn that, too.
7They’ll need the toilet the moment you set off on a journey
Other automatic triggers include getting into the sea or swimming pool, or fastening them into a snowsuit or other onesie-type garment. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask them beforehand if they need to go.
If you’re still at the baby-stage, this will be the moment they fill their nappy (diaper) instead.
Dangling a peeing child over a grass verge while trying to avoid getting your shoes wet should be an Olympic sport.
8Everything ends up grey
When your kids are small, buying clothes is a joy. You’ll pick out cute outfits in bright colours and delightful patterns, and marvel at how adorable they look. Make the most of it.
Babies and toddlers go through an astonishing amount of clothes. Spilt food, paint, regurgitated milk, mud… After multiple washes, the colours fade and everything looks the same. Don’t let it spoil the initial fun though.
9Someone, at some stage, will buy them a drum kit and think it’s funny
Or a trumpet. Or a cuddly monkey with long arms and an irritating, motion-activated screech. (Yep, that one’s from experience. At least we could take the batteries out.)
The trick is to try not to let them see how much it annoys you. It’ll only prolong the agony. Kids have short attention spans, so grit your teeth and wait for the novelty to wear off.
Alternatively, hide the bloody thing once they’re in bed and then tell them the dog ate it.
10They have selective memories
You’ve been trying to get them to memorise your phone number for ages, just in case they ever get lost. Three months later they can still only remember the first two digits.
But let your guard down and swear in front of them just once, and they’ll tell everyone from the newsagent to Grandma to the kindergarten teacher about the rude word Mummy used when she trapped her finger in the car door.