I’m supposed to treasure every second, notice every smile, delight in each new discovery and savour every hug. That’s what the Facebook memes tell me. You know the ones I’m talking about, where words like, “All the kids grow up so fast, so add the joy and make it last!” are overlaid over photos of happy-looking children in a field of flowers at sunset. They appear in my feed to try to guilt me into loving each moment, which is never going to happen, because some moments are crap.
I try to make the most of my time with my daughter, like most parents do. Usually it’s not hard. Now that she’s pretty much over her I-hate-everything-including-sleep phase, it’s mostly fun to hang out with her.
But sometimes it’s boring. Reeaallly boring.
In between all the squishy hugs, belly laughs and adorable babbling, there are times when she just wants to stand at the top of a staircase for 20 minutes. Or run around the coffee table. Or remove every single item from my handbag, then put each one back in again. Time stretches out in these moments, and it can feel like we’re going to do this forever. Chapstick out. Chapstick in. Gum out. Gum in. Receipts out. Receipts in.
I can’t pretend that these moments feel like gifts. If they are gifts, they’re like those scented candles that you got from your co-worker at your office Secret Santa party – you weren’t really into them, but you had to pretend to like them anyway because it’s not okay to say, “Hey, these kind of suck.”
I doubt that I’m going to look back on the times I spent watching my daughter walk back and forth across the living room repeatedly and decide that they were actually really special after all. They will remain times when I wished I was doing just about anything else. Times when I hated the fact that I had to hide my mobile phone to keep her from stealing it, which meant that I couldn’t distract myself with Twitter or Facebook. Times when I wondered whether I was the only one who thought their child wasn’t always very interesting.
I suppose we can’t demand that our children entertain us all the time. That’s a lot of pressure to put on little kids, if you think about it. I know I’m not always fun and witty. Sometimes I just want to lay on the couch and stare off into space while thinking about good names for fat cats (Mungo, Chester, Boomer). Why should I expect my daughter to always be at the top of her fun game when I’m not?
Children should be allowed to be boring sometimes, and parents should be allowed to be bored by them. And, in the longest, dullest childcare moments, parents should try to remember that although it may feel like they will never end, they will. Soon enough your child will start drawing on your walls with a crayon or running around the house with a pair of your underwear on their head, and you may find yourself wishing that they were just a little less exciting.
This post was originally published on The Huffington Post.