Amber and Max sitting on a wall in front of Blackness Castle

9 Ways I Ruined My Toddler’s Life Recently

A few months ago, Terry made the observation that going anywhere with a toddler is a bit like leaving the club at 4am with your drunk friend. You just want to go home and get some sleep, but she wants a kebab, and to talk to this random stranger, and, OMG, the stranger reminds her a bit of her ex, so, actually, let’s just have a full-scale emotional breakdown right here in the middle of the… wait: where’s the kebab?

And so it is with toddlers. They are your drunk friends now. Illogical. Emotional. Clumsy. In need of a constant supply of snacks. Not always totally in command of their bodily functions. Oh, and they absolutely WILL NOT go to bed, no matter how tired they are, or how much you beg them. It’s a bit like you’ve gone back in time, and are 21 again, only you’re WAY more tired than were back then, and, you didn’t even want to go to the club in the first place, to be totally honest.

Right now, Max is very much in the “drunk friend” stage of toddlerhood, which means that every single thing we do has the potential to absolutely ruin his life. Everything. Here, for instance, are just a few of the things he’s presumably going to be telling his therapist about in a few years time, if his reaction to them is anything to go by…

Amber and Max visiting Blackness Castle, Scotland


I wore a dress with short sleeves, thus baring my arms and offending Max’s delicate sensibilities. I do NOT have the right to bare arms, apparently.


He asked for a boiled egg for breakfast, so I gave him a boiled egg for breakfast. THE ABSOLUTE AUDACITY OF ME.


We bathed him. That’s it: we just .. bathed him.


We took him to visit a castle. It was not ruined enough for him, apparently.


I left his drink on the other side of his room, instead of placing it right beside his bed one night, and he had to wake me up at 4am to tell me this. He didn’t actually need a drink at 4am, you understand: he just wanted to let me know how badly I’d messed up.


He freaked out because he realised he was “sitting on his shadow”, and, instead of simply explaining that he wouldn’t hurt it, which I think is what was bothering him, I opened my stupid mouth and blurted out that he “could never get away from it.” I mean, WHY? Why would I say that? It’s like I just don’t WANT to be happy or something?


I said I didn’t want him wearing a particular pair of dirty shoes. As I got him ready for bed that night, he suddenly burst into no-context tears, before accusing me of “hating” his “lovely shoes”, and insisting on being shown them before he’d get into bed. Kind of like a proof of life, I guess?


I walked slightly ahead of him on the beach, and he ran after me crying that it was the LAST STRAW and he had HAD ENOUGH, so I was on my LAST CHANCE. Yes, in ALL CAPS.


Yet again, it was a hard no to his “sweets for breakfast” suggestion. AGAIN.

In a slightly disturbing turn of events, meanwhile, on a day out a couple of weeks ago, we told him that, YES, we would now proceed to the playpark he’d been begging to visit for the last 40 minutes, and he heaved a world-weary sigh, rolled his eyes, and said, “FINALLY!” Which makes me suspect he’s gradually moving away from “Drunk Friend” and towards “Moody Teenager”. I’m scared. Hold me…

Max running towards Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle, Scotland

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

I also write books
  • Fiona Brough


    My son turns four tomorrow and his favourite responses to being told no are:
    “But that’s NOT FAIR!!”
    “Stop saying those words to me!”
    “Stop talking to me!”
    “Stop that nonsense!!”
    It’s hard not to laugh.

    August 5, 2021
  • Steph


    I’m a chronic life ruiner too lately, Bailey has been very keen to make sure I know that. The worst thing I’ve done so far is cut bubble wrap out of an envelope for him because he cried that he couldn’t get at. The envelope was instantly ruined forever. Bad mummy. And just when I thought we were over Bubblewrapgate he woke up in the middle of the night last week, screamed ‘Nooooooo bubble waaaaaaaaamp’ and cried for a couple of seconds before going back to sleep. So yeah, caused some permanent psychological damage with that one apparently!

    August 5, 2021
  • Sara


    My son is now 14 and firmly entrenched in eye-rolling teenagerhood. However when he was about 2.5 he had the most enormous tantrum – proper rolling on the pavement, screeching and banging his head on the ground – because I wouldn’t let him drive the car and it was HIS TURN and NOT FAIR. I wish I’d filmed it ready for his 18th birthday celebrations ????

    August 5, 2021
  • Myra Boyle


    Love it, especially the not ruined enough castle and sitting on his shadow ????

    August 5, 2021
  • Brenda


    I remember my son hated it when I would get my eyebrows tinted. I have blonde eyebrows and if I don’t tint them, I look like I have no eyebrows at all! Anyway, one day, I saw him coming down the street, heading home after the school bus dropped him off. He was probably 7 or 8 years old. I opened the door to yell hello and wave and I got an angry, “did you get your eyebrows done?” and a huff of disgust. Sorry buddy. He’s 19 now and I still tint my eyebrows.

    August 5, 2021
  • Danielle


    Oh my goodness, kids are just the best!

    Danielle |

    August 7, 2021
  • Emerald


    I had a hissy fit on my first day at primary school. I had expected a Medieval library with astrolabes and hardback books, where men and women of letters would be boiling things in test tubes. I walked into a playroom with kids building things out of Lego. Then turned to my mum and said “I don’t WANT to come to THIS school!”

    August 29, 2021