My So-called Life: Trust Supermummy - she knows best

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The Independent Online

In response to the success of Channel 4's Supernanny, I would like to offer my own services as Supermummy.

In response to the success of Channel 4's Supernanny, I would like to offer my own services as Supermummy. While I have every respect for Jo Frost and her S&M attire - are there any rich bankers out there who don't want to sit on her naughty stair and be whipped? - I believe I am at an advantage as I am a more child-friendly M&S and have a child myself.

Indeed, my own advice comes fully endorsed by my son who said, entirely of his on volition: "My mum is definitely a Supermum because she said if I didn't say so she'd clip me round the ear." Here are some tips to be getting on with:

Dear Supermummy

I find it very hard to shift my kids from in front of the television. They'd watch all day if they could and often do. Any advice?

At the beginning of every week go through the TV listings with them and allow them to pick out one programme a day that they truly want to watch. Write these down on a piece of paper, tape it to the fridge, then totally ignore it because, frankly, the alternative might be having to play with them, which no parent in their right mind wants to do, as it may involve Ludo, a game that goes on forever and is so boring you will wish you were dead.

Do not feel bad about yourself as a lot of what's on television these days is very educational. Indeed, as my own son once said to me when I was doing the laundry: "Mum, why don't you use Ace? It's tough on stains but kind enough for delicates."

And you know what? I did use Ace and I did find it tough on stains but kind enough for delicates. The thing about children is that they can often teach you almost as much as you can teach them, but not quite because you are the grown-up and can simply say, when pressed: "Because I say so." But never say: "Don't waste tissues, just use your sleeve," as this is playing right into their hands.

Dear Supermummy

My child is desperate for a pet but I am not so sure, mainly because I am convinced that once the novelty has worn off I will be left to look after it. Do you think pets are good for children?

You are right to be worried, but have you thought of Sea Monkeys? Sea Monkeys come in a box showing them snorkelling and scuba diving and sitting on thrones wearing crowns and little flippers and sometimes there are even pirate ones with patches over their eye and wooden legs and cutlasses.

Now, there is nothing to match the disappointment on a child's face once he or she realises that there are no flippers or snorkels or thrones or cutlasses or even monkeys, just slimy grey flecks that, should they thrive at all, is by no means guaranteed, will eat each other as well as their own poo.

In my experience, your child will rightly soon lose interest, in which case you can chuck the whole lot down the waste disposal unit while grinding on max and whistling a merry tune because, apart from anything else, they're repulsive and make you feel sick.

This should stop them ever hankering for a pet again. (If not, remember: hamsters and fish can also go down the waste disposal unit but never put a cat down without chopping it up first as it can choke the system.)

Dear Supermummy

My pre-teen daughter would like to have a sleepover for her birthday but I've heard that they can be a nightmare: tears; explosive rows about who sleeps where; finally asleep by 4.59am and up again at 5am, trampolining on the mattresses, more tears... any sleepover tips?

Yes. Don't. Ever.

Dear Supermummy

I recently read that the cost of amusing a child over the summer holidays is, on average, £1,200, what with tennis camps and new toys and so on. However, there is no way I can afford this much, and wonder if you have any ideas for entertaining them that costs nothing or next to nothing?

You've got me here as I'm all for throwing money at kids to get them out from under your feet. Have you tried, perhaps, hide and seek in which they hide and you somehow forget to seek? This can keep them behind the sofa or in a cupboard for a week, sometimes more and, apart from the rehydrating fluids, needn't cost a penny.

Alternatively, how about turning the situation to your advantage and get your child into shoplifting? This is something they will probably have to do on their own initially but later they could join a gang. It is always good for a child, and essential for their self-esteem, to feel part of a gang. And, who knows, he or she may later graduate to stealing cars to order. If so, I don't want anything too fancy, but one of those new Mini Cooper convertibles would be nice. I'm not bothered about the colour but think red would suit.

Dear Supermummy

I have a good career and a beautiful house but I'm getting on a bit and worry if I don't have a child now I never will, which I might regret. On the other hand, I just don't know if I'm ready for it. How can I know?

OK, here goes. First, smear peanut butter and mud all over your hands and then wipe them on the curtains, carpets and walls. You may wish to crayon all over them at the same time. Next, get a piece of toast and stuff it in the video player while dragging the cat around by its tail and squashing bananas into the sofa cushions.

Make sure you get up 27 times a night to swing a Moses basket and sing every song you have every heard and some you haven't. Take your breasts out in public. Wear sick on your shoulder to important meetings. Spend all of Christmas Day constructing a Playmobil Castle which, the moment it's up, will start to deconstruct itself such that, even years later, you cannot go to the toilet in the middle of the night without kebabing your foot on a medieval maiden's pointy hat.

Put a tea-towel on your partner's head, pretend he is a shepherd in a nativity play and clap rapturously even if he forgets his words and then cries and then wets his pants and then complains about not being able to hold "Little Baby Cheesy." Practise saying: "Put a jumper on. It is cold out there." Don't practise saying: "Well, if it's OK with Alex's mum, it's OK with me," as that would be playing right into their hands. This is how to tell if you are ready.

Next week with Supermummy: How to move house while they're at school and somehow forget to leave a forwarding address.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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