Today, a parenting column got me down. And then I remembered – I don’t care.
Chocolate. Mud. Snot.
Tomato sauce. Paint. Blood.
Ice-cream. Fruit juice. Urine.
On occasion, my children have been known to appear in public splattered with any, possibly all, of these substances.
In my experience, little children are grubby, dirty, messy little people.
Show me a spotless child, with tidy hair and well-pressed clothes, and I’ll show you a kid who is not having any fun.
Case in point: North West at a fashion show.
At least, that was the justification running through my head when I read this today:
That was the headline on a post on a parenting site that nosied its way into my newsfeed this morning.
Yes, I’m a masochist, so I clicked. And…
The writer, who (standard disclaimer) I’m sure is a lovely woman doing her best – aren’t we all – took a few minutes to get stuck in to those amongst us who just haven’t got it together to keep our kids nice.
Those of us who might not have a change of clothes in our bags at all times, who might actually take our eyes of our children long enough to allow them to splash or stomp or roll in something.
Those of us who don’t follow our kid around the playground with a wet wipe and a hairbrush, ready to ensure they are Instagram-ready at all times.
And woe-betide anyone who isn’t constantly wiping their kid’s nose. Because that is the worst crime of all, a snotty-nosed child.
I read it. I felt bad. I couldn’t help it.
I should know better than to let other people’s parenting opinions colour my day (after all, I write them too, and what do I know?), but the thing is, my kids are grubby.
Not, you know, dirty. Well, not often. But they’ve got kind of crazy, curly hair that sticks up at funny angles, or takes on a birds’ nest consistency with no bed-head product necessary.
They like painting with their fingers and toes, and sometimes, I just let them go for it, all out.
They like jumping in puddles after it rains. And so far, I haven’t found the all-over teflon protective suit that will protect them from mud. That stuff sticks, after all.
They like eating ice-cream. And when I say eating, I mean smearing it all over their faces and clothes in the hopes some might get in their mouths.
They like running fast and falling over hard, they like to eat spaghetti with the gusto of a young Pavarotti. No wall is safe from splatter.
Sometimes, they do all these things in public. And I don’t have a change of clothes in my bag. Because clearly, I am slovenly.
And, sssssssh, but sometimes, my kids have a cold, but nothing else wrong with them, and it doesn’t seem fair to force them to sit on the lounge with their heads held over an antiseptic wipe, so I take them out in public. And no amount of tissues up my sleeve will guarantee NO SNOT will escape.
None of these things are excuses for having a grubby child. They are reasons you might see me in the company of a less than spotless little person, but hardly excuses.
But there is one. Want to hear it?
I HAVE A LIFE.
And it’s too short to curtail my kids’ fun every five minutes to wipe and mop and smoothe, to lick and rub and change, or to worry that other parents are judging the pasta-sauce splatters on their T-shirts.
Phew. That’s better. And if you want to feel better about your own grubby children, I would like to present you with this picture of my son, taken today, when my parter went in to check on his afternoon nap.
Do you let your kids get dirty?