Debbie Leigh: My toddler brought me down to size

RUG RAT: Debbies daughter stubbornly refused to showcase her inestimable range of skills in front of mums friends.

RUG RAT: Debbies daughter stubbornly refused to showcase her inestimable range of skills in front of mums friends.

When a friend came to stay recently it triggered a weird and unexpected metamorphosis.

I revealed a side of myself I had never realised existed.

Sadly my alter ego wasn’t some glamorous burlesque dancer with the body and moves of Ola Jordan. Although it felt just as alien to me.

The arrival of our pal had turned me into a great big braggart.

He had only met our two-year-old daughter once before and that was just for a couple of hours in a London restaurant, so this was their first chance to really get to know each other.

And for some reason this equated to me showing off about her skills, abilities and intelligence at every available opportunity throughout the weekend.

I was inwardly cringing as the sentences poured from my mouth yet I was powerless to stop them.

It’s weird because I’d never brag about myself in that way. In fact I’d rather strut through Leeds city centre in a onesy and a pair of Uggs (yes, I do realise some people actually believe this is a good look) than spend my weekend on a boast-athon.

I was having flashbacks to those “round robin” letters my parents receive from old acquaintances every Christmas.

Jam-packed with exaggerated claims about what their stunningly beautiful, highly-talented, high-achieving children have been up to – they drive my dad mad.

But I had become a living, breathing version of one.

Whenever there was a lull in conversation I found myself handing our guest a pile of books and suggesting they read together – just to showcase her “admirable” love of reading and sophisticated level of understanding.

When her attention wandered I urged her to recite some of the rhymes she loves to sing or show him how she could count up to seven.

Of course, as every parent knows, there was zero chance of her going along with my requests and shameless bid for the title of Mother and Daughter of the Year.

She followed Toddler Rule Number One and steadfastly refused to comply or even give any indication she could even hear what I was wittering on about.

Later she took her rejection of the whole sorry shenanigans to the next level, deliberately pointing at the wrong pictures in the book when I asked her to identify a particular object, and making baby noises instead speaking.

Other than grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me and telling me to get a grip, woman, she couldn’t have made it any clearer that she wanted no part in my childish games.

Still I kept the anecdotes flowing – from swimming to climbing; potty training; her speech and vocabulary; how loving, excitable and artistic she is.

I know there are labels for parents who act like this – baby bores and pushy mums being the more polite ones.

But I’m not going to be too hard on myself.

As I’m still relatively new to this parenting lark I’m hoping it was a one-off – and therefore I think my actions can be excused.

I think it’s as simple as having this huge sense of pride in your own creation and hoping that people you care about will share your views and think your offspring is as great as you do.

But let’s face it, who cares if our mate happens to know other two-year-olds who are already reading Jane Austen and converting fractions into percentages?

What really matters is that her own mum and dad think she’s a little star – and we make sure she knows it.




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