London - As I survey the messy wreckage of my nine-year-old’s after-school birthday party, I admit I feel a little jealous. Weary, but jealous.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could retain that sense of carefree happiness into adulthood? How lovely to run around wildly at 100km/h shouting at the top of your voice, half your clothes on inside out.
How amazing to rip the paper off presents in such a frenzied fashion, eyes wide with joy at the gift inside only to be distracted seconds later by an enormous piece of cake, which you scoff in the manner a starving chimpanzee.
Only Labradors and the under-tens exhibit such unadulterated joy.
I’m also jealous because I’m obviously not the one celebrating. I am the one left clearing the debris caused by this display of excessive delight. Children: wonderful relatives, terrible flatmates.
As I collect wrappers, burst balloons and tidy all manner of sticky mess, I can only conclude yet again that children are, by anyone’s standards, quite difficult to live with. If they really were flatmates you’d evict them pretty quickly.
“Imagine the advert you’d write if you were looking for a new flatmate who behaved like our children,” I muse to Mr Candy, who is preoccupied with his daily search for batteries for the remote control.
“Wanted: loud, untidy individual with dubious table manners. Must never flush the loo, consistently fail to replace used toilet rolls and repeatedly sit 10 centimetres in front of the television screen while talking at the top of their voice.
“Would prefer someone with selective hearing whose attitude to personal hygiene could be best described as relaxed. Don’t bother to apply if you have ever thrown an empty crisp packet in the bin or made your own bed.
“Do apply if you are addicted to sugar, habitually wake up at an ungodly hour and then wake up every other sleeping housemate, too.
“If you find the word ‘poo’ exceptionally funny and have a casual relationship with the truth you would be ideal. If your most used phrase is ‘it wasn’t me, it was her’ please apply.”
You could add all manner of other personality traits completely unacceptable in any adult you chose to live with but common to small people.
For example, I only realised the other day that Mabel, aged 18 months, is prone to absent-mindedly putting small toys down my top while we’re watching TV on the sofa.
All four of them did this when they were small - who knows why. I’m now so used to it I wouldn’t notice if a guest did it. Or even the postman.
I once lived with a flatmate whose bedroom resembled something from that programme Hoarders and I still find toddlers more challenging than that to share a room with at times.
Mabel’s taken to secretly squeezing toothpaste all round the bathroom and dropping anything she can find down the loo because, unlike the other three, even though she can’t use the loo yet she loves to flush. She moves so fast it’s impossible to keep track of her antics. But in my house, if you want to find anything with a lid or anything of value it’ll be hidden high up.
You wouldn’t put up with this behaviour pre-children, would you? Unless you lived in Monkey Kingdom at London Zoo.
The question is, when does it all change? When do my loveable little house mates become, well, better house-trained?
Mine are all under ten, but friends with teenagers warn it’ll get worse before it gets better. Tell me it’s not so. Tell me one of them will turn a light off without being asked in the next five years!
At least, as a mom who chooses to work, I’m grateful for getting a daily break from these challenging little flatmates. This week I read that the gap between the number of working and non-working moms is the smallest it’s ever been. In 1961, only 24 percent of mothers worked, now it’s around 66 percent.
Just over 70 percent of moms with partners work, so fewer women are trapped with their trying housemates.
But it’s those mothers who are at home full-time I have sympathy for - they are the heroes.
They can’t even go to the loo on their own. - Daily Mail