10 Should I help that stranger’s child?
Your kid is happily playing in the ball pool and waving cheerily at you every couple of minutes. This is exactly the sort of bliss that makes parenting all worthwhile, but you can’t enjoy it because another tot has scaled 30 feet of wire mesh netting and is now dangling precariously close to the edge of the play area. Not your kid, not your responsibility. But if you don’t do something quick there could be an accident and the “guardian” they arrived with has not looked up from Twitter since they got an iced coffee and comfy chair on the sidelines.
9 When should I stop this fight?
Immediately. You know the answer to this already. Maybe you paused because the kid who just got socked with a foam sword is a notorious playground bully and they had it coming. But hesitating is wrong and you should intervene right away. Okay, let the little one get off a last shot and then stop it and explain why we don’t hit.
8 Name that stain
Chocolate or poop? When a baby crawls towards you with tell-tale smudges across their body your whole morning can take a turn for the worse. In a parenting career you have a fair share of trouble, but the speed at which you react to the incoming danger speaks volumes about the level of parenting you have reached. Are you going to reach for a wet wipe and a shower hose?
7 Is this worth fighting over?
We all want an easy life and, all things considered, you know your kid is one of the good ones. So if they haven’t picked up EVERY single piece of Lego from the floor does it really matter? Let it go and teach an important life lesson later when you’re not quite so sleep-deprived.
6 Is this worth fighting over: Part two?
Grandma is in town and she just handed a sack of candy to children right before bedtime. This comes after a full day of disapproving eyebrow raises, tuts and direct comments on the quality of your parenting. Never mind if the entire household will think it is an overreaction and you will be the baddie, you need to take a stand, confiscate the candy and tell of parent and child in a multi-generational show of force.
5 Is that my child’s cry?
There are a few dozen kids playing outside and just one cry can be heard. If you identify it as one of yours then you need to go and help, but if not carry on chatting to other parents and breathe an inwards sigh of relief.
4 Who do I save?
Life is about the decision we make. On a morning at the park one child decides to walk in one direction, towards a big wet pond, for example. The other chooses to toddle off in the opposite direction and amble towards the open gate. You’re in the middle and have to choose which to go after first. Making snap decisions about the potential risks, ease of rescue and which one is your favourite has to be done in a matter of seconds.
3 What happens if I just ignore this?
A nice but, at this exact moment, unbearable parent is calling your name from the other side of a crowded car park. The inescapable whiff of toilet wafts your way from a full nappy, but you’ve changed five already today and you know that your partner and co-parenting ally will be home in five minutes. There is a costumed mascot dance show on the other side of the mall in five minutes, but your kid doesn’t know and the exit is nearby. What happens if you just ignore something and hope it goes away?
2 Answering awkward questions
Where do babies come from? Why is Daddy crying? Is Toy Story real? Why does that man look like that? Okay, ignoring things isn’t a sensible long-term approach, so you have to think quick and answer well when kids get inquisitive.
1 Do I need to put this back?
Your child has picked up and removed a fistful of fudge when walking past the Pick ‘n’ Mix stand, so obviously you have confiscated it and told them why we don’t steal. But do you have to put it back? Because fudge is really delicious...
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He thinks fast and acts slow.