Claudia Winkleman: 'Other mothers are making Christmas a misery'
Published 20/12/2007 | 10:57
So, you know the kind of parent who thinks their kid is somehow entitled to a first go on the swing? The kind of parent who thinks it's ok for their child to push yours around in the sandpit and exclaim: "They're only small. Children will be children ... " until your offspring wallops them back, and then all of a sudden their children have been " man-handled"?
You know exactly the kind I'm talking about. They're the ones who think nothing of getting out a photo of their four-month-old (let's be honest, no child at this age is attractive - they're hairless, a little bit boss-eyed and they can't sit up, so they're usually photographed leaning rather clumsily on an oversized reindeer or pillar) and they always assume you're going to think stories about their kids are fascinating.
They think that you can't possibly get through another minute of your life without knowing that little Jack just loves the trampoline and that he says " bounce" when he's on it and that baby Lucy just simply won't eat plums. This parent (and this is the real thing that kills me) will think you'll really want to talk to their child when you call them up.
" Hold on a minute, he wants to say hello."
"Um. But I just need to know if we're meeting tonight."
"He's in such a funny mood today. You should see him with the little dog puppet I bought him. "
"Um. That's nice. So are we having sushi or noodles or are you staying in?"
"Say woof. Say woof. He wants to say woof down the phone. Just wait. You won't believe it. He actually says woof."
"That's really sweet. So, tonight ... "
"Mama ... Baaaa."
"Can you put mummy on the phone, Freddie?"
"That was more of a sheep actually."
"Uh. I've got to go now."
"He wants to say bye-bye. He waves while he's saying it. Blow kiss. Blow kiss Freddie. Blow kiss to Auntie Claud. Say bye-bye. Good boy. Good mama's boy. Blow kiss. Say woof."
You know the type, right? They're your best friends and then they have a kid and you can no longer go on holiday with them and now their husband drinks a bit too much and sits in the shed for most of the weekend? Well, these are the mothers who are making my Christmas a misery. Why? Because they're buying up all the Iggle Piggles in the land and now I'm a failure.
You (probably) are a grown-up, so you might not know who Iggle Piggle is. Let me share the following facts: he's blue, he waves a lot, he's got a red blanket, he lives in the Night Garden (where it is, in fact, day) and he is really, really sold out. Like, everywhere. He's now officially the second-most wanted thing for Christmas on the planet. He's just a little bit behind the Wii console. And it's now impossible to buy him. I should explain that I have never played this game in previous years.
When the mad mothers queued outside John Lewis in the pouring rain for hours on end to get hold of a Tinky-Winky or a Laa-Laa I just thought they were sad. I almost drove past and laughed (I only didn't because there wasn't enough petrol in the car to do that and drive to Tesco) but I realised that the world had gone bonkers.
But this time it's different. She really likes Iggle Piggle, you see. She absolutely loves him. And giving her a book or a pair of socks feels stupid. There are revolutionary new stock update websites to help, and they've already caused quite a ruckus. Instead of bleeping when a share price goes up or down, they bleep if an Iggle Piggle suddenly appears on Amazon or Mothercare.com. Well, these organised scary knee-length skirt-wearing mothers have got on to this.
Just because they absolutely believe that their little darlings deserve the very best and before anyone else they're on these sites and buying the little blue creatures (he's not a human and he's not just a teddy - you really need to take a look) before anyone else can. I tried to do the right thing and I did order one from Toys R Us but of course it got nicked out of the box and now my daughter's only got a tangerine to open.
Anyway, on Christmas morning, when her little face falls as she looks for Iggle Piggle under the sofa (I realise I'm making her out to be a bit spoilt and a little bit slow - um, not totally off the mark) I will feel like the fool. I'm thinking of changing my parenting tactics.
No longer will I laugh off questions about how many teeth my kids have (yes, I sat next to an orthodontist once) and I now want them to talk to all my friends on the phone. Because if I'm one of them, the dreaded women who practice for the egg and spoon race at sports day, I'll be determined enough to make sure she gets her dream teddy at Christmas.
And that is what makes a pretty hideous person - but also makes a really tremendous mother.