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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

krankies.jpg Kids. They’re not all brilliant.

Every child you’ll ever meet is some kind of genius according to those people least able to judge them – their parents.

I hate clever toddlers. Or, for accuracy’s sake, I hate parents constantly telling me how clever their toddlers are. Case in point is a new neighbour of mine who I chanced upon in the street the other day. “You settling in alright?” I enquired before running out of small-talk and alighting on her child. “Hiya!” I said to him only to be met with a surly silence. “Don’t be shy,” his mother implored as he rubbed an ice-pop all over his face. “He’s usually a right chatterbox; in fact he began talking a good six months before most other kids.” Here we go, I thought, yet another child star. “He started walking from a really early age too, ” she added. That didn’t last long I mused, noting the buggy he seemed especially keen to remain strapped into.

It’s not her fault I suppose. Parents are conditioned to see only the best in their kids, but I’ve had it with mothers and fathers who seem to believe that their Curly Wurly smeared little Johnny is some kind of wunderkind; a veritable Mozart to the rest of the playgroup’s Salieri. They can’t all be walking and talking and figuring out the TV remote before the rest of their peers. I mean, it stands to reason.

I’ve not been blessed with a child myself – having long since been of the opinion that parenthood is the equivalent of being kidnapped and sold into slavery – but I have, on occasion, taken to borrowing a three-year old for the express purpose of lying about its mental capacity and motor skills to complete strangers. But I get my kicks from subverting this bizarre game of oneupmanship. I was in the park recently, for instance, passing some time pushing a purloined child on a swing. After a while a father sheepishly ambled up to the vacant swing next to me and plonked his frowning little Fiona onto it. After a few shoves I gave him the nod, the nod that says, “kids, eh?” Sure enough, the deluded sap was soon bigging up his charge, filling me in on Fiona’s supposed prowess with crayons. “I don’t know where she gets it from,” he frothed, before, and here’s the kicker, he pulled out one of her supposed masterpieces from his jacket pocket. Reader, it was utter dog shit; a complete waste of paper. “Fabulous!” I said, before waiting a moment or two. “This one’s no good,” I whispered conspiratorially, dipping my head in the direction of my ward. “A real disappointment. I wish that having a child was like buying a Kenwood Chef, and you could return it when it’s basically knackered beyond repair.” With that I stalked off leaving him holding Fiona’s dismal piece of art flapping in the breeze.