He wants his first birthday party catered? Start worrying, Mum

In answer to parents' many begging letters over the past 12 months, a handy cut-out-and-weep guide to spotting whether your darling boy - yes, little James, little Henry, little Willy - is not as other children:

Start me up: 1 to 13

He's two weeks overdue. Why? Because ...

a) he's fashionably late;

b) he's been modelling different looks - the nude thing is so damn tired;

c) "Oh God, I've got to go through that? There's no other way out? Hasn't anyone around here heard the word Caesarean? OK, I'll do it. But just this once."

He's born. Clocks Dad's camcorder. Instinctively displays his best side.

Doctor smacks his bottom. His first smile.

Seems oddly put out when offered the breast.

Blue isn't really his colour.

Wants his first birthday party catered. Produces list of acceptable names.

First words: "What a dump!"

You read him Snow White. He identifies with the Wicked Queen.

Bursts into tears upon finding that Action Man "isn't anatomically correct".

Meets little girl next door. Bitches about her Barbie's dress sense: "Blue and green? I don't think so."

Discovered wearing Mum's high heels, he apologises ... for not accessorising.

Vows to marry Daddy when he grows up.

Has to be dragged, high kicking and screaming, to nursery. You think he's being bullied - he's so sensitive - when he has merely noticed that his schoolmates are still wearing last term's wardrobe (he is a sensitive child).

Names his dog Divine.

Spends fifth birthday worrying that he has lost his looks.

Asked by Granny if he knows what little boys are made of, answers very firmly, "Yes."

Takes the Meccano set Dad bought him - purchased especially to straighten him out - shrieks with delight, races to the bedroom, isn't heard from for the entire afternoon, then calls everyone upstairs to show them the mammoth fan he's built (true story).

His favourite song is "Someday My Prince Will Come"- but opines that it would benefit from a hardbag dance remix.

Refuses point blank to play football while insisting that joining the teams in the showers afterwards is an officially recognised sport. Insists that the same is true of landing on the showbiz squares in Trivial Pursuit.

Told about the birds and the bees. Demands an independent inquiry.

Spends 13th birthday striking girls' names off the invitation list. Demands that Will Carling pop out of the cake, "lavishly oiled and discreetly lit".

The 'I Wonder' Years: 13 to 21

He and his chums while away the afternoons watching Joan Crawford videos and giggling about Madonna having the nerve to play Evita.

Spends inordinate amounts of time in the bathroom. Don't worry, he's not paying hand service to Onan - he's using your beauty products ... actually, worry.

Can hum the entire score of Gypsy.

His room makes Architectural Digest.

No girlfriends but plenty of girl friends.

Eighteenth birthday cake is emblazoned with the legend "Legal at last".

His best pal, Jeremy, starts staying overnight. Explains the moaning noises heard from his room in the wee small hours with "Poor Jer-Jer is a martyr to asthma". Poor Jer-Jer looks as if he could bench-press 160 pounds ... Your son weights 160 pounds.

Laughs uncontrollably when subjected to fatherly talk on contraception. Odd, because you've found condoms in the pockets of his skin-tight 501s. Brushes away questions with "Better safe than sorry."

Informs his careers officer he wants to force Mother Teresa to have dermabrasion.

Begins coming home late with shaving rash - someone else's shaving rash.

Says he has something serious to tell you, shakes his head when you guess (fantasise?) "You've got some girl pregnant!" and then says it doesn't matter really, it can keep, honest.

For Adults Only: Don't Ask A Lady Her Age

Leaves home. Says he doesn't want a job yet. Gets hysterical when you agree he "should bum around".

Moves in with Jer-Jer. You visit. The flat's fabulous. Compact, too: only one bedroom.

Jer-Jer moves out. A strange cove with shaved head, gold ear-ring and outre taste in leather clothing moves in.

Lands gainful employment in what sounds like an exciting, cutting-edge scientific enterprise called Clone Zone. He swears that the venture is indeed dedicated to the betterment of man.

Jer-Jer moves back. No one is allowed to mention the strange cove.

Your heart leaps when a root around his wardrobe uncovers frocks, bras and high heels. You don't even mind she's such a big girl (why, she's as big as a man) - at least she's a girl.

Said girl never materialises.

No girls ever materialise.

But it's all right because your son's happy, he loves Mum and Pa, and - thank heavens - at least there will never be a scheming, selfish bitch of a daughter-in-law to battle with. Unless you count Jer-Jer. Which you should.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own