Are Children Boring?

One of the advantages of being self-employed is that I don’t have to race around each morning at 5.30, completing all the domestic tasks I had to do before setting out to the office to arrive for 9.00. Nowadays I get up around 7.30, take the dogs out, feed the cats and then the dogs, feed the tortoise and say “Good morning” to the cockatiel and leopard gecko (his name is Elvis), make breakfast for myself and watch the remainder of GMTV before sauntering to my new ‘office’ which is a summer house in the garden.

This morning there was an item on the programme about a woman who ‘courageously’ declared that she found her children boring. I gathered, from the short discussion I watched, her opinion is that a lot of women who give up a career to focus on their children almost have to justify their decision by making child care into a full time professional occupation. In a word, they become Super Mom.

This then puts pressure on those women who elect to continue to be working parents to become the type of bionic individual who bakes cakes and provides home-made produce for harvest festival as well as make the most glittering costumes for the school concert and still have time to be an active member of the PTA etc. etc. It would appear that the woman on the television has taken it upon herself to declare the aspect of children and child care to be utterly boring and non-challenging.

It set me thinking, now that I have time to think: did I find my child boring? I confess to finding the routine of child care tedious. The regular feeding times, the rest and sleep periods and changing nappies weren’t a whole bundle of laughs, depending on the food consumed during the day. Those things probably did bore me because they had to be done and there was no escape. I chose to remain a working mother, but having a baby and watching her develop, acquiring skills and strengths which I could encourage and promote was exciting and fascinating.

I took so many photos in sequence and used them for years afterwards to emphasise aspects of child development to child care students. I rejoiced in her first words and meticulously wrote them down. I recorded the first time she noticed her hands and fingers and toes. I took photographic evidence of the day she sat unsupported for more than 10 seconds. I have pictures of her taking the cat for a walk in a push-along trolley. I taped her first attempts to sing and say rhymes. I cried at each school concert when she took part in at least four nativities and sundry other theatrical events. I looked forward to Christmases and birthdays and any other occasion where I could gaze on her with fondness and pride.

Even as she grew into a truculent teen, I still enjoyed watching her, noting the small changes to language and personality as she became more independent. I endured the Goth phase, when cheap black hair-dye stained the pillow cases. I coped with her horse-riding years and the hours of standing, freezing, watching her as she trotted, then cantered and at last galloped around the ring and eventually across the fields on a hack.

I worried myself sick about making the right choice of secondary school for her (it was the wrong choice). I supported her several choices of college and, indeed, kept on supporting her whilst she ‘found’ herself. I submitted to a catechism of questions about Bros, New Kids on the Block, The Outsiders – a ‘special’ film, Karate Kid, Bon Jovi. The list is endless. I know all of the words to the theme song for Prisoner Cell Block H. I still don’t get Twin Peaks, but I tried.

I waited up until she came back home from her various social activities. I collected her from a whole stack of parties and clubs. I took home friends who lived miles from anywhere and whose parents wisely had had a drink so they couldn’t possibly drive. I always remained teetotal when she went out ‘just-in-case’. I comforted her through her first romantic tragedies. I survived the eighteenth birthday party at the local rugby club, where I was the only one on the dance floor. I tried for years to embarrass her, but failed.

I have spent most of my working life trying to share my enthusiasm and knowledge of children with those who choose to work as paid child care professionals. I have never understood anyone who claimed that babies did nothing and were boring to look after. I consider it a real privilege to witness all that potential begin to realise itself. To watch a baby repeat a movement so that it can reproduce a sound or shadow is special. To hear the first vocalisations and the experimental sounds that ensue is a joy.

To step back after years of protecting, nurturing and encouraging so that my child can become the adult she wants to be is a unique feeling. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

2 thoughts on “Are Children Boring?”

  1. But Valerie, that’s the whole point. She wasn’t doing anything that we didn’t do ourselves as babies. We’ve been there and done it ourselves. Are you saying it was wonderful because it was YOUR child doing these things? Can you not see that others may see that reasoning as arrogant and self-centred?

  2. As a full time dad I have to say that looking after my daughter is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is mundane, boring and intellectually not very stimulating. However, it is also delightful in equal measure when she learns the tiniest thing.


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