When Christmas Makes Your Kids Smarter Than You

9 August 2016

I’m not complaining. I love Christmas and all of the insanity that goes along with it – apart from cheesy Christmas television ads, the evil commercialism rife in major shopping centres and witnessing parents forcing their screaming children to sit on a hairy stranger’s knee.

In fact, I try my hardest to embrace the chaotic nature of the silly season every year, although, this year I think the insanity may finally have taken its toll.

I was faced with this possibility the week before Christmas when my three-year-old and I set out on yet another rushed expedition to the shops to buy supplies for yet another Christmas function that afternoon. With the shopping done we hurried back to the car, laden down with bags and groceries, where I groped around in my handbag until I found my car immobilizer.  With one bag positioned precariously between my hip and the car door, I pressed the button and went to pull the door open. It remained locked. I pressed it again. Nothing. And again. Still nothing. Now I was getting pissed off, and a sore hip. Our immobilizer had been known to play up in the past but this was NOT the greatest timing in the world. My other daughter was due to be dropped back to our house from a sleepover in the next twenty minutes, my husband was over forty minutes away at a rehearsal and my three-year-old was holding herself and whispering “toilet” over and over. Stupid thing, I thought to myself as I dropped the bags and began pressing the button over and over like some kind of possessed madwoman. Clearly I was putting a fair amount of force into my rage-induced pressing, as the immobilizer suddenly shot off the keyring and skidded to a stop under the car. Great! Now I’d really broken the stupid thing!

After crawling under the car and retrieving the immobilizer I had no choice but to call the RACV. Unfortunately our membership keyring was on the set of keys currently with my husband, so I rang him, whilst shushing my daughter who was now hopping up and down holding herself and saying over and over, “Mummy I need my car seat!”

“Yes, Abbie, I know! I need my car seat too but we can’t get in!”

My husband answered the phone and said he’d text through the membership details asap. I hung up and called my mother-in-law to tell her I might be a bit late back to the house when she arrived with m eldest daughter, then rang the RACV. Throughout these phonecalls I was trying my best to placate Abbie, who was still insisting over and over that she “needed her car seat!” Jesus Christ, kid. Give me a bloody break here! I thought as I listened to the RACV sweet as honey voice over tell me that all my needs would be met just as soon as the next operator was free. Really? Will you pay off my house, send me on a trip to Vanuatu and buy me a new car and immobilizer!

As the RACV woman’s voice droned on and on in my ear, I looked through the car window and noticed a glass in the glass holder that looked completely unfamiliar. I don’t remember buying that glass, let alone drinking out of it…and I don’t buy magazines, so whose NW is that on the front seat…?

Oh shit. Not my car.

I looked down at Abbie, it now dawning on me that she’d known all along after failing to see her beloved car seat through the car window. It’s a defining moment as a parent when you realise that your three-year-old is more observant/smarter than you.

Looking around to make sure no one else had witnessed my monumental stupidity, I quickly ushered Abbie away from the imposter Subaru and over to our actual Subaru, which was only four cars away. As I strapped a now happy, but still busting, Abbie into her seat, I comforted myself with the thought that it made perfect sense for her to notice such a glaring mistake and for me not to. I mean, after all, at this time of year adults’ focus is split in fifty different directions – buy presents, buy food, buy alcohol, get decorations, buy tree, buy alcohol, attend parties, make kids concert costume, meet writing deadline, buy alcohol… A kid’s focus is fairly singular – get presents. It’s little wonder that she noticed something as obvious as the fact that her car seat was missing and I failed to notice that every time I pressed the button a car alarm that sounded remarkably like mine was going on and off somewhere in the vicinity.

There may also have been a further incident later that week when I took Abbie off to her regular Tuesday afternoon kindergarten session only to discover no kids from her group there, the furniture all pushed into the middle of the room and the two teachers and a couple of mums cleaning out the kitchen. Yep. They’d finished the week before…after that end of Kindergarten year Christmas concert I’d attended when I’d said goodbye to everyone and told them I’d see them next year. I think it’s safe to assume that I’ll be the mum most mocked for the first few weeks of February.

Anyway, I’ve decided to put all of those embarrassing moments behind me and concentrate on the year ahead. May it be a year where I manage to juggle twenty things all at once without making a total dick of myself…and may my kids dumb themselves down just enough to make me feel a little bit better about myself by next Christmas.


First published in 2011

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