My biggest mum fails

It’s fair to say that, when it comes to food, our son is not wildly adventurous. He has a few things he really likes – chocolate, banana smoothies, chicken nuggets and Grain Waves spring to mind – and a few he’ll tolerate – eggs, chicken, porridge…
So my husband sought some inspiration online. Today, I heard him asking our boy: Do you want Monkey Toast for lunch?
This was some Pinterest-inspired (or something) creation where you turn a slice of toast into something that resembles a monkey through the clever use of bananas and raisins.
“Maybe we can get him to eat something other than Easter eggs,” my husband hissed at me as the two of them went off to the kitchen.
A minute later, I heard shouting. “No banana! No raisins! Nooooo! That’s not what a monkey looks like!”
Mental note, darling husband: Unless you are actually toasting monkeys you’re at risk of over-promising and under-delivering if you suggest Monkey Toast.
It got me thinking about the times I’ve had significant mum fails.
Skype calls
These look super cute when other people do them. I see my friends’ kids madly Skyping their grandparents overseas or aunts and uncles in other parts of New Zealand and think – surely we could do that? We have tried, several times, particularly with one relative in the UK. Although my son will watch something on my iPad or phone avidly, as soon as we turn on Skype it’s all over. We might get a little view of his forehead or up his nose but then he puts down the device, turns away and wants nothing more to do with it.
Homemade birthday cards
So cute! I remember making birthday cards when I was little. Turns out it’s quite hard to get kids to do this. The first time I thought we had success, he was outraged when I was going to fold the masterpiece in half and give it to someone else. The second time, he assured me one streak of black across the piece of paper was sufficient. I ended up having to help colour in. Luckily my creative skills are pretty weak so it was believably from a small person.
Face painting
We went to an arts festival where there was face painting. “Would you like your face done?” I was upbeat, ready for him to decline. “Yes please.” So we waited about half an hour in the line only for him to get to the front and decide he didn’t like the idea of it after all.
Toilet training
We decided we were okay with “rewards” for using the toilet. Little did we realise that those rewards would turn into bribes. Within a couple of weeks, our son was using the toilet competently – but only if he knew he was to get a treat in return. Wee in the toilet? Better give me a biscuit. Poo? That’s got to be worth some chocolate. Now we’ve got a nascent capitalist on our hands whose expectations only grow. One of my friends said to me the other day: Shouldn’t they go to the toilet because they need to go to the toilet, not because they think they are going to get something? Yes, I agreed. Absolutely. Result: Wet bed for the first time ever.
Baby sensory
This sounds like such a good idea. Expose your baby to shapes and sounds and whatever else you can think of to build up their little budding genius brains. My son had a little box full of treasures – a rock, a feather, a pasta strainer (don’t ask). He paid absolutely no attention to this carefully curated box until he was old enough to use the pasta strainer to hit things – mostly me. My dog ate the pieces of macaroni. I also took him to a music class at the library, feeling very virtuous. He cried when I tried to give him a handheld bell and kept crawling off as the other kids got into their singing and actions. Now my daughter’s baby sensory experience involves being splashed in the face with water when I try to bath her at the same time as my son, and winding bits of my hair she has pulled from my head around her fingers.
Newborn photo shoot
Ah bliss. Beautiful photos of your new one while still sleepy and compliant enough to oblige. Sounds great but I left it too long so my son had a smattering of baby acne virtually everywhere. Someone hadn’t wiped his bum properly so there was also a nice smear of yellow poo across the cheek in the photos of his naked behind. Not one for the mantelpiece. With my daughter, I completely forgot.
Puddle hunts and other flights of whimsy
A woman posted on one of the mums groups I’m a member of something along the lines of: The kids are going nuts. It’s raining, what do I do to avoid mutiny? Someone suggested a puddle hunt. What a good idea, thought I. Son would love that. So the next day when there was a bit of rain, then sun, I told him to get on his gumboots and away we went. We walked for about half an hour. No puddles to be found. “I wanted to have a ‘venture,” he told me as we got back to the house. Sorry darling.
Similar things have happened when I suggested we paint rocks to hide – the paint went all over him and then the rock was chucked into the river instead of hidden. And when we made play dough – he poured the whole bottle of food colouring in so I was too scared to let the playdough touch any surfaces. Treasure hunt in the garden? We only found dog poo but he still wanted to put it in the collection basket. I might just have to accept I’m never going to be a Pinterest-worthy mother.

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