Fans of the hit TV series Mad Men may remember that when Don Draper’s children were young – only about five or six – he had already trained them to mix cocktails. He and Betty would sit on the sofa looking hungover, yet fabulous, and the kids would whip up an Old Fashioned, like it was some kind of game.
Now I’m not saying the only reason I had a child of my own was to become my personal valet. But it certainly seemed to me like a perfectly harmless way of keeping them occupied, whilst also putting them to good use.
We have been so focused on our daughter reaching such minor milestones as walking, and talking, we have been missing the bigger picture.
Here are the tasks I will really be happy to see her capable of.
It’s enough effort to put together a reasonably clean and coordinated outfit for myself every day. Then I have to do it all over again for her as well.
Once she’s old enough to choose what she wants to wear and put it on herself, she can legitimately go out dressed in a swimming costume, ballet tutu, pyjama-top-she-has-grown-out-of-with-a-hole-in-it, wellies and a tea cosy on her head, and I can just blame her… Rather than admit everything else was in the wash.
::Using The Roundabout
Why does the roundabout have to be her favourite thing at the park? (Well, after the swings, but there’s always a queue, isn’t there?) And why does it not seem to make her dizzy in the slightest?
I hate braving the merry-go-round with her on my lap. Going round is not merry, it is nauseating.
So the sooner she learns to hold on to that thing on her own, the better.
I am not artistically gifted. When I try to do homemade, it just looks shabby and halfhearted. But when children do handicrafts; wonky becomes cute and mistakes are just adorable.
All she needs to do is focus on colouring a bit harder, rather than eating crayons, and I can get her to scribble red and green all over a piece of card, shower it with glitter, then cut it up into gift tag sized pieces and my Christmas wrapping is sorted.
::Making Her Own Breakfast
Oh for the day that I can just leave out a Weetabix in a bowl and some long life milk on the kitchen table before I go to bed. Then come the morning just roll over and enjoy the lie in…
::Being A Public Voice Of Conscience
‘Kids say the funniest things’, as the saying goes. Not so funny when they’re shouting, “Mummy, why are you wearing your pyjamas under your coat?”, at the top of their voice in the supermarket. Or, “Mummy, look! That woman is REALLY old!”
But wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could train them to publicly shame people who are doing you a disservice?
“Mummy, why doesn’t that woman move her buggy so we can fit in the bus? We’ve been waiting for hours in the rain and there is clearly room for us too?”
“Mummy, look! That man has pushed in front of us in the queue!”
“Mummy, do you think the Pret people will choose you to get a free coffee today?”
::Basic Household Chores
As I stood hunched over in my front garden at the weekend, scraping up rotting dead leaves, suddenly aware that my builder’s bum was on full view to the entire street, I couldn’t help wondering… At just what age is it appropriate to start offering your offspring the chance to earn pocket money in exchange for doing odd jobs?
Just a bit of light housework – dusting, sweeping, sponging avacado stains out of the carpet.
Is 13 months a bit too young?