Is it possible to have too many 'special' moments when raising a child?

PUBLISHED: 13:42 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:51 29 August 2018

A 'special' job for another 'special' boy in the 'special' supermarket...

A 'special' job for another 'special' boy in the 'special' supermarket...

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How do you get your child to take an interest in something they're not interested in? Out of depth dad Chris McGuire has some 'special' tips

‘Tricks of the trade’ that’s what they call them. These little insights, picked up along the way, make doing a job (any job) a little bit easier. Recently, in a misguided moment of enthusiasm I agreed to paint our newly installed kitchen. By ‘kitchen’ I mean the walls and ceiling, not the units themselves (I’m not totally inept in the DIY stakes).

Although, that said, when the job was finished, there was plenty of emulsion and satin on the newly acquired shaker cabinets (cooker, grill, extractor fan). What’s my point? Essentially, if I’d been in possession of a few ‘Tricks of the trade’ my below-par painting abilities might have been (somehow) mitigated. Now I find myself seeking out additional ‘tricks’; primarily those that aid the speedy removal of blobs of paint from all manner of surfaces. Someone suggested white wine (perhaps only to drown my sorrows), but any ideas on a stamped-addressed envelope please!

In my (often nebulous) role as a stay at home dad, I’ve picked up a few tricks of my own. For example, it’s never an efficient use of time to change a nappy too quickly. If you detect a nappy has just been filled (usually a distinctive aroma is the giveaway) don’t rush to replace it. Instead, wait a few minutes, to ensure… how to put it? To make sure you’re not ‘applauding the soloist before the end of the movement’. A nappy quickly changed is often changed again in a matter of moments. Great ‘Trick of the trade’ eh? You can have that one for free!

My major ‘Trick of the trade’, however, is hyperbole. To be clear, I’m not talking about a Spanish bowling alley, but exaggeration. My son will often be talked round into doing something he’s not interested in if I pretend the task is more exciting than it actually is. For example, if he doesn’t want to go to the supermarket, the store in question becomes a SPECIAL shop – sure to grab his imagination. Similarly, if fish fingers will no longer do, SPECIAL fish fingers become the order of the day. They come from the same packet at the run-of-the-mill product, but are served with a little more enthusiasm. You get the idea.

Yet, as my son entered the ‘terrible twos’ stage, where everything is met with an equal level of disinterest, this approach has necessarily spread into EVERY aspect of life. He puts on SPECIAL socks, holds his SPECIAL tractor and rides in the SPECIAL buggy. Like King Midas, whose world turned to gold, everything around my little one is SPECIAL – which essentially means nothing is.

So, like Doctor Frankenstein himself, I’m a victim of a monster of my own creation. Each day, in the park my son makes a bee-line for the SPECIAL bench (woe betide anyone who’s sitting on it as he arrives). We play in the sandpit with his SPECIAL bucket and spade, before sliding down the SPECIAL slide and snacking on a SPECIAL banana. I feel like a man lost in a desert of SPECIAL-ness, yearning for the oasis provided by something ordinary.

It doesn’t end there. Like all kids of his age, he’s obsessed with older children or ‘Big Boys’. So, as SPECIAL (inevitably) loses its magical sway (through ubiquity), it now must be combined with ‘Big Boy’s’ for added potency. I found myself saying this other day:

“Pick up your Big Boy’s hat and hold onto the SPECIAL pram while daddy puts the rubbish into the SPECIAL Big Boy’s bin.”

Any trick, if done too 
often, loses its ability to impress. On reflection, I think it’s best to leave ‘Tricks of the trade’, to those who practice the trade itself. I mean, I’ve a nasty feeling that if I’d actually consulted a painter and decorator before being let 
loose on my kitchen, he’d simply have pointed me towards a Big Boy’s roll of SPECIAL masking tape.

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