Almost as soon as they have begun, my three months of leave have come to an end. I’m gutted. I loved every minute and even felt like I was starting to get the hang of it by the end.
I learned a lot on the journey from absolutely clueless to moderately incompetent. But right now I am sitting on a bus on my way back to a job that I’ve probably forgotten how to do.
As such, all the wisdom I have acquired has little use, beyond filling this farewell blog, which I hope may act as some kind of guide for any of you with intentions of spending time with children, whether other people’s or – god forbid – your own.
So here, in no particular order, are some nuggets I have picked up during these past three months:
1. Had I remembered how painful acquiring teeth was as a child, I would have taken better care of them as an adult.
2. The amount of snot produced during a cold is inversely proportionate to the size of the person.
3. Babies can eat limited amounts of chalk with no significant or noticeable side effects.
4. Likewise cat food.
5. Everybody’s life would be better if we all just had a few more playdates.
6. Supermarkets are surprisingly forgiving when you take out an entire breakfast cereal display through your inability to control a buggy.
7. However expensive the toys you present a 10-month-old with, they will never be as exciting as playing with plug sockets, an open dishwasher or cat litter.
8. You can’t win an argument with a 3-year-old; by the time you’re in the argument, you’ve already lost.
9. The park goes from an enchanting oasis of playful frolics to a full-on war zone within about two minutes at school chucking-out time.
10. Guessing which presenters on CBeebies dreamed of working in kids’ tv and which are just going through the motions behind a fake smile can be more entertaining than any of the programmes.
11. Except for ‘Sarah and Duck’, which is every bit as good as ‘The Wire’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Saint & Greavsie’ or whatever you consider the pinnacle of televisual achievement.
12. Other mothers can be pretty judgmental of a dad who’s not at work on a weekday.
13. The word ‘poo’ has lost none of its comedic currency among the pre-school demographic.
14. Fishfingers are not just an acceptable lunch option for a grown-up, but a delicious one too.
15. People are much more likely to tolerate a lack of punctuality if you can blame your lateness on the kids.
16. Everything is easier if you don’t take it seriously.