I have always had a very clear picture in my head of what I want to 'look like' as a parent. Not physically, but how my parenting looks to the rest of the world. Perhaps because I'm a teacher, or because my parents were, in my opinion, very good parenting role models (and still are), I always had very strong ideas about how I would parent. I also had some parenting pet hates which I just could not abide.
Now? I do them all. Every. single. one. Because it turns out naïve little me at twenty-five, with no kids didn't know squat about parenting. Just because I taught a class of children didn't mean that I knew how to parent my own children. I didn't know how to parent anyone's children. So all those parenting pet hates I had? Guilty. Guilty of them all.
Eating before paying for food in the supermarket
I would look disdainfully at the child eating half a baguette before even getting past fruit and veg let alone anywhere near the checkout. Then I would tut internally at the parent/s who allowed the child to commit such an offence and promise myself that my children would learn to wait for their food.
Not so much right now because my oldest, at three years old, can wait until we've paid, and the youngest, at six months, is only just weaning. But when my oldest was ten months old, did I maybe open a bag of crisps to keep him quiet whilst I whizzed round the supermarket at top speed because shopping with a shouting child is much more stressful than silly, naïve me realised? Yes I bloody did.
Leaving shopping trolleys abandoned
Whilst we're on the theme of the supermarket, I used to look at women abandoning a trolley on the path when the trolley park was only ten spaces down. Lazy cow, I'd think, and promised myself that I would always return trolleys to their rightful place.
Ten spaces?! I might as well leave my child unsupervised on the motorway! Anything could happen to them. OK it probably wouldn't but I don't like the idea of it. Id rather abandon my trolley than my child. So did I just leave a trolley 200 yards from a trolley park when I nipped to Asda? Yes I bloody did. (I did put the brake on though. Safety first).
Calling children pet names
I used to hear people call little Charlie 'Charlie warlie woo' and cringe. I couldn't understand why you would spend an entire pregnancy deciding on a carefully chosen name, only to choose ridiculous non-words and noises to address your children once they arrived.
I still don't understand why I do it but I think my eldest might have thought his name was 'Munchkin' (or Munch for short - I even had a nickname for the pet name) for the first six months of his life. And do I tell the youngest he's a 'cudey pie' (yes I pronounce it like this in a voice which annoys even myself)? Yes, I bloody do.
Shouting at my children
"I will never shout at my children."
"GET IN THE SODDING CAR!"
Dressing children in fancy dress outfits when they're too young to choose for themselves
I would look at babies dressed as a Christmas pudding with a holly leaf hat or an Easter bunny with rabbit ears and I would just be baffled as to why you would want to make your child look like such a prize prick.
Because they look so chuffing cute! Did I dress the eldest up as a pumpkin for Halloween at 2 months old? Yes. I bloody well did.
Dressing children in co-ordinating outfits
I have seen pictures of myself and my sister dressed in co-ordinating outfits (same outfit, different colour; same colours, slightly different outfits - like an early (depleted) Girls Aloud). I always asked my mum why she did that to us. We looked like a crap (depleted) girl band.
It's different though now because when I do it, my kids look like an actual cool version of One Direction. Still depleted. But definitely bloody cool. And cute.
Children watching iPads and iPhones at dinner in restaurants
Can those parents not find anything to talk to their child about? What lazy parenting. When we take our children out for dinner, we shall talk about the environment, current affairs and politics.
"I want to drink my wine in peace. Here - watch In the Night Garden."
(NB: now that my oldest is 3, we actually have conversations around the dinner table and he no longer watches the iPad.)
(Another NB: we do not converse about current affairs. We talk about Disney Pixars Cars movie. And do impressions of the fictional characters. But this is progress. First stop Cars, next stop politics.)
I am probably guilty of a million more of my parenting pet hates. The problem is, I never realised how exhausting, terrifying and pride-inducing parenthood is. So next time you see me with two kids in co-ordinating fancy dress outfits watching an iPad and eating baguettes round the supermarket, in a trolley I will abandon yards from the trolley park, please don't judge me :)