Annoying Kids by Becky Leonard

Becky Leonard

Becky Leonard - Credit: Archant

Guest columnist Becky Leonard talks about annoying kids.

I HAVE done lots of spouting off about my ‘Top Whatever’ lists lately. Clearly, I am showing off. Or maybe I am just trying to impose some sort of structure around the usually random collection of thoughts pin-balling around my (mostly) jelly-filled head, at any given moment. “Oh yeah, so-and-so book would be in my top 10 books ever”, or “such and such album would be in my top five albums”. Yawn, right? I mean who really gives a flying foof what my favourite books or films are?

This led me on to wondering about the ‘Top Five Most Annoying’ things to ME as a parent. There is a constantly evolving list that gets updated on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Clearly there are many universal annoyances such as whining and your kids getting every single toy out seconds before guests arrive, but I wondered about the things that really specifically annoy ME, about my family in particular. So, you probably don’t give a flying foof about this list either, but it might just make you feel like you are a paragon of tolerant virtue in comparison.

1. You’ll know this one, I’m sure. My son has a special gift for looking like he is very deeply asleep (he does the deep breathing and everything) until you try to walk out of the bedroom. He could be a full-time Equity registered ‘sleeping boy’ in TV adverts. This is a natural extension from his gift as a baby of pinging his eyes open like they’re on strings just at the point your spine becomes vertical, or at the precise moment you put him down in his cot/car seat/anywhere. He doesn’t even do that eye-spring shizzle any more. Oh no, he’s been working on it. Daniel Day-Lewis has nothing on him and his ‘method’. Now, in a cool serial-killer-style voice he just says “send Daddy in” as I leave, knowing full well that Daddy is far easier to manipulate than me. This does then come back to haunt me as I am the one who later has to rescue Daddy from his clutches and deal with the resulting tantrum.

2. Refusing to get dressed – I’ve been told by more than one parent that you only have to take your child to school once in their pyjamas and they never do it again, but I am on the third time in as many weeks this term. Bless him, he thinks that by not getting dressed he will not have to go to the places he doesn’t want to go to, like school. Really, school is exactly the place he needs to be because he is able to defy the laws of physics and somehow turn himself into liquid right at the moment the clothes come near him. No, sorry, I mean a laboratory. He should be in a laboratory. Unfortunately, this laddie is not for turning and cannot be bribed, cajoled, or confused into his clothes if he doesn’t want to. There are fleeting moments where I admire his integrity and commitment to his beliefs, but the rest of the time I am shoving him into the car seat half-dressed, swearing under my breath.

3. My daughter is a nightmare for not letting me talk on the phone. This is a particular nightmare if it is a work call and can rapidly descend into scenes from The Shining as she follows me from corridor to corridor and room to room. I once went outside and shut myself in the garage, only to have her hammering on the door two seconds later. We always start with her asking me who it is. If it is a family member/friend then I can tell her and she will probably ask to speak to them, or we end up having a bizarre three-way conversation. If it’s a work call and I can’t tell her who it is, because I am trying to appear PROFESSIONAL, then so begins the ridiculous mouthing and semaphore dance. This involves me trying to mouth the word WORK, to which she always looks puzzled and says, “What are you saying mummy?” really loudly. So then, I begin waving my arms around and frantically flapping at her to leave the room, which she invariably doesn’t. Now that she can read, I once resorted to writing on a piece of paper the words GO AWAY, but that really backfired on me as she sounded it out phonetically right next to me (and the phone) and promptly burst into tears, which leads me onto.......

4. The first note of my daughter’s cry. I think this has mostly been since she has got older and has got way more ‘voice’ than she used to have, so no longer that cute mewling sound that babies make. This particular note, and I can’t tell you whether it’s a B Minor or whatever, is the one that she also holds for the longest part of her cry. I swear I hold my breath until she kicks in with the key change. For some reason, the second note vibrates at a more pleasing frequency for me, and makes me feel less like the very core of me is being squeezed through a mincing machine. Fortunately, we are hearing her cry less and less, but alas she has traded in her tears for backchat; a whole new world of annoying pain.

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5. Having to repeat myself. What? I said, “I HATE HAVING TO REPEAT MYSELF”. Ask my husband, we have had the most pointless and ridiculous arguments about me not wanting to repeat myself over the years. I must add that in some specific contexts (work) this isn’t a problem at all. It is mostly at home. Now, you’d be well within your rights to say that having children was not conducive to this particular gripe, and you’d be right. Both my son and my husband are what are known in the NLP world as being ‘Three-Times Convincers’. Basically, for them to be convinced of something I’ve said, they need to have heard it three times. At least. It goes a little something like this:

“Mummy, when we get home, can I watch Star Wars?”

“Yes, as soon as we get home you can watch Star Wars”.

“Mummy, when we get home, can I watch Star Wars?”

“Yes, darling, I said you can watch it when we get home”

“Mummy, when we get home, can I watch Star Wars?”


Arrive home.

“Mummy, can I watch Star Wars now?”

“NO, NO YOU CAN’T NO! STOP THIS NOISE. STOP! NO! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. NO. OK YES YOU CAN. YES. Please, help mummy get her pills out of her bag”

I must also add the caveat that I myself can indeed be profoundly annoying, really an awful lot of the time. So at least I know where they get it from.