London - Embarrassing moments are frequent when you become a parent. The chaos of family life serves up a series of ever-more ridiculous situations that gradually chip away at the last vestige of your self-esteem or personal privacy.
I’ve now stacked up more humiliating moments at the hands of my offspring than I dare to mention (and that doesn’t include the awesome humiliation of actually giving birth).
You’ve all read about the day Gracie opened my toilet door in front of a long queue at a motorway service station (while I balanced my newborn on my lap), the day she shouted “Help, this woman’s kidnapping me” to a bus load of passengers, the moment my toddler son emptied a crowded local shop with a violent bout of wind he angrily blamed on me (the staff still smirk when I go in), the day one of them dialled 999, the trip to A&E to remove Barbie’s ruby earring from inside the boy’s ear canal, the endless naked trampolining incidents.
This list is funny in retrospect and as TV Mafioso Tony Soprano used to say “Ahhh, what ya gonna do?”. Anyway, as a result I reckon I’m almost a blush-free zone now, short of being forced to wear a bikini on live TV I can’t imagine what would embarrass me these days.
But just before I get complacent, it seems baby number four has decided to embrace the challenge of maternal humiliation with new gusto. She’s got bigger, better plans than her siblings and I’m already impressed with her methods.
On Saturday, Mabel attended her first birthday party. She’s only got one friend because her social life is mostly sitting in the back of the car while I ferry her older siblings around. It’s not a sure-fire way to extend one’s circle of friends, but I have high hopes of her being able to parallel park fairly soon.
So off we went to celebrate Mabel’s mini-mate Matilda turning one (three weeks after Mabel’s first birthday). I noticed immediately that in comparison to similar-aged babies Mabel seems to have undergone some form of accelerated development.
Apart from being three times the size of the other guests (“Isn’t she, er, robust,” one mom commented) Mabel can walk fast and talk. Her first word was the relatively useless “noodle”, but now she has an impressive repertoire that includes most objects followed by the word “mine”.
I wish I could attribute this rapid growth to some experimental hot-housing. Or perhaps put it down to an impressive parental skill-set based on mistakes made rearing three others, but unfortunately I can’t.
We can take no parental credit here, it’s nature. The reason she behaves like a dominant silverback gorilla is survival instinct. Of course she can walk fast for a one-year-old - she spends her time running away from three other miniatures who are desperate to pick her up. Of course she can talk, how else would she stop the others pinching her toys/food/cheeks?
It’s not quite The Hunger Games, but Mabel’s definitely many stages ahead of her siblings at this age because she’s got to run with a pack (as David Attenborough might say). And this brings with it a whole new level of potentially embarrassing moments.
At the birthday party the cute babies were tentatively and slowly exploring the new trampoline, which I had to prevent Mabel manning like a bouncer at a nightclub door. ‘”ine”, she said menacingly as I unfurled her vice-like grip on it.
She wolfed down a sandwich and gobbled up birthday cake in the manner of Homer Simpson, while other babies relished their first taste of sugary icing.
The host’s poor family dog, warily avoided by the other little guests, endured an enthusiastic prodding by Mabel, due to her unusually close relationship with our own enormous canine.
And then she did something so enormous in her nappy it required a full change of clothing.
As I washed my hands she dropped a few things down the loo which I had to retrieve (nothing nicer than ferreting around in someone else’s loo is there?) and went on to rearrange Matilda’s dolls’ house with the delicacy of a builder on TV’s Rogue Traders.
We made our excuses and left before she started rearranging the grown-up furniture.
She’s lucky that her rapidly growing confidence/dominance is accompanied by an infectious laugh. How great it would be to be the fourth baby, I thought as I drove home (I’m the eldest). Birth order - the one time in life when it’s better to be last than first. - Daily Mail