parents

Lucy: "I just don't know how to talk to kids."

Ava and I playing with Play Doh.

By LUCY ORMONDE

I haven’t been here for more than three minutes and I’m pretty sure 19-month-old Fin has already eaten at least three pieces of Play Doh.

Fear not. I hear from other parents in the ‘hood that that Play Doh is non-toxic. And some people (one in particular named Fin) have told me it’s rather delicious.

So I’ve come to Brisbane to take part in the The Whatever Life Chux at You Challenge. The aim of the game is test whether Gen Y can cope with whatever life Chux at them. And we’re doing that by taking three childless Mamamia writers and having them swap lives with three Mamamia mothers for a day.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by CHUX. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Today I’ve ditched the hipster coffee haunts of Redfern and come to and look after Mamamia writer Rebecca Sparrow’s three kids – Ava, 4, Fin, 19 months and Quincy, three months.

Before I leave the Mamamia office, I confess to the girls that I’m terrified. I’m not worried about keeping the kids safe or cleaning up a mess. This is going to sound  little strange, but I just don’t know how to talk to kids. And the thought of doing it makes me want to crawl into a ball on the floor and suck on a bottle of tequila.

Quincy’s not a drama. He can’t talk. Fin’s only on basic words so the chances are he’s not going to care what I say unless it involves Dora the Explorer. So it’s just Ava who I need to worry about. Because seriously – what do you talk about with someone who doesn’t watch Homeland, follow a football team or have a job?

Do I ask her age? Does she even know her age? Do I ask what she likes to do in her spare time? Whether she believes in climate change or evolution? Does she think Beyonce should go to Kimye’s wedding?

Anyway, about an hour before I leave for the airport, Bec texts to tell me that Ava’s just inquired as to whether I’m able to speak English.

So at least that’s a start.

When I early in the afternoon, Quincy is asleep in his pram in the corner of the living room, Ava is playing quietly in the toy room and Fin is running around with his hands in the air like he just don’t care.

Bec tells me there’s water bottles in the kitchen, a stack of toys in the play room and snacks in the fridge if the kids need them and then takes off downstairs faster then I can say “babies use toilets, right?”

And just like that…. I’m a mother, y’all.

That’s Quincy!

Two hours in and Ava and I have already played Barbies, had a tea party, dressed up as princesses, created a Lego zoo, made a queen out of Play Do and watched multiple episodes of a new show called Sophia the First.

I’m exhausted. She’s ready for more.

Fin has thrown his bottle of water (and my iPhone) on the floor at least four times, I’ve given him some yoghurt (and cleaned up the mess) and we’ve bonded while pushing a toy car back and forth on the titles approximately 926,963 times.

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It isn’t until Bec comes to the realisation that there’s ample opportunity to take a shower in peace that she leaves me with the baby on top of the two other. Her only instruction is to make sure Fin doesn’t bash his brother over the head with a toy aeroplane.

Noted.

It’s at this point that Ava tells me she’s hungry. I’m too scared to leave Quincy alone so I’ve got him in one hand, Fin holding on to the other and Ava talking me through what’s what in the Sparrow pantry. We decide pretzels are a good idea and at this point I’m dishing out savoury treats – baby in arm – LIKE A BOSS.

It’s 4pm but it feels like midnight. I wonder if it would be acceptable for me to take a nap or catch up on the afternoon news. Probably not.

At 5 o’clock we leave the house to go out for dinner and I learn that that going for dinner while most twenty-somethings are still contemplating lunch is a thing when you’re a parent because, well, bed time happens when the sun is still up.

At dinner, I sit next to Fin and sporadically feed him chicken nuggets. Ava sits across the table and makes a milkshake from her ice cream (and I give her some silent points for awesome.) After an hour we’re done and venture on home to bed.

Bec puts Fin to bed, while I read Ava a story. I freak when she hands me a book that looks about the size of War and Peace but relax when she tells me it’s just short stories and that I can pick my favourite to read. The next 10 minutes are probably my favourite of the whole day, a reminder of how much I used to love story-time when I was Ava’s age.

At this point also, I’ve realised that talking to little kids isn’t scary. It’s actually pretty awesome.

By 8pm, I’m sitting on the couch. Piece of caramel slice in one hand, tea in the other. At this time on an ordinary Saturday night, my night would just be starting. But right now, I’m going to bed.

So what have I learned? What lessons will a carry through for when I become a mother one day? Here’s a taste.

1. When a child is screaming and throwing toy aeroplanes down the staircase, an iPhone is a Godsend.

2. Dora the Explorer is also your best friend.

3. If all else fails, employ the help of a big sister.

4. Remember to bring toys to dinner.

5. Make the most of the very few moments of peace!

6. And no toys, TV or games is ever as good as a story at bedtime.


What advice would you give the MM writers taking the Whatever Life Chux at You Challenge?

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