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Let’s face it: you stick out like a sore thumb. Every parent does. There is no big placard over your head to say “I have children” and give the game away, but rather an accumulation of little signs. It’s in the tell-tale stains on your shoulders; the way you glance around for approaching perils; and the twinkle in your eye that might be pride or too much caffeine, but is probably both. Here, then, are 36 ways that people can just tell you’re a parent and, furthermore, how they can also work out the age of your kids.
You Have An Infant
- When standing on the spot, you have a hypnotic rocking motion about you.
- You magically have a wet wipe in your hand 0.25 seconds after any minor spill.
- The bags under your eyes have their own bags.
- That weird habit you have of mumbling “Mother duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack”.
- The ‘why is this noteworthy?’ look on your face whenever someone complains that they only got six hours sleep.
- You hiss at sharp corners.
- Your lower shelves contain big, unbreakable objects.
- Your carpet smells faintly of sick.
You Have A Preschooler
- You wave at passing trains.
- You have subtle flecks of glitter in your hair. Always.
- You drop words like doggy, choo-choo and minibeast into conversations, as though everyone talks like that.
- People ask you about your new lapel badge which, on closer inspection, turns out to be an encrusted cereal hoop.
- Your catchphrase is “Be careful!”
- While out and about, you are forever glancing at the base of trees in search of fairy doors.
- You have a purple substance under your fingernails.
- Visitors to your home are offered a biscuit choice of “safari animals” or “farm animals”.
- “I’ll put some music on,” you say. “How about the Moana soundtrack? Or maybe the Trolls World Tour?”.
- You have Baby Shark as your ringtone.
- Your bathroom door frame is unaccountably covered in stickers.
- When entering a restaurant, your eyes are darting around for the toilet facilities, just in case.
- Did you really just break your step to avoid standing on a paving crack? Yes. You did.
- You have a corn-based snack to hand whenever someone complains of feeling peckish.
- When giving someone directions, you tell them to go straight on past the playground, and turn left at the magic goblin tree (but you MUST whisper “glimmertail sparklepoops” three times as you do so).
- Whenever you hear the word “rubble” you immediately shout “On the double!”
- You have a favourite Disney princess, and you can talk with authority on her relative merits and the wisdom of her life choices.
- You are purchasing a pack of pipe cleaners and a tube of glitter glue, and you know how to use them.
- You rarely give anyone your full attention because you’re busy looking around for everyday dangers and planning the next five meals, while humming Peppa Pig.
- You’ve been wearing odd socks all day and you just don’t even care.
- There’s a wonky rainbow in every window of your home.
- Your carpet emits a light crunch, underfoot.
You Have School-Age Kids
- You unquestioningly cut your sandwiches into four triangles.
- When asked your name, you hesitate and stumble a little, because you were about to say “Holly’s dad”. (Insert appropriate name and relationship.)
- You actually know when Red-Nose Day is, and probably have plans.
- It is nearly November. Your Christmas tree is up.
- To your friends’ irritation, you know what a fronted adverbial is and you’re not afraid to point them out.
- You tell visitors that you think you still have a carpet under there somewhere, hidden beneath many years’ accumulation of toys, craft projects, school work, discarded clothes and sports gear.
Obvious signs that you’re a parent begin to wear off once the kids become teenagers. The age brings a whole raft of new challenges, of course, but not ones that are so visibly obvious when people look at you. You might just get your carpet back, though!
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.