So startling is this discovery that I consider other tedious childcare fixtures with new eyes. The Saturday morning battle over the Coco-pops in the mini-cereals selection pack, for instance, and the fractious pelt through the park to school. When, in my bath chair, I look back, I'll excise my shrillness and their complaints and remember only sunlit hopscotch over the dog turds. From my bath chair, in fact, even nit-combing will probably come to seem desirable.
When I am no longer indispensable, I shall mourn the fact that noone requires me to:
Manipulate deformed socks onto damp feet after swimming.
Write coded messages on serviettes to kill time in slow restaurants.
Steer flailing legs along monkey bars in playgrounds.
Be hung with coats, book bags and toppling art work as they erupt past me out of school
Wait on frigid pavements for cubs/netball/drama/choir/riding to finish.
Flap instinctively behind me, whether or not they are with me, for two sticky hands whenever I cross a road.
Trick them into two miles of country walking with a randomly improvised treasure trail.
Conjure Albus Dubledore's facial hair out of bath foam.
Explain thrice hourly why they can't get a bunk bed/iPhone/iPad/iPod/Facebook account/pierced ears/pack of pastrami sticks/pony/baby sister/baby rat.
I know this because, with the passing of toddlerhood, I already miss:
Nightly reading of The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
Baking for the weekly birthdays of two dozen fluffy toys.
Eating flaccid cheese sandwiches on flaccid plastic chairs while making flaccid conversation at drop-in play centres.
Enduring the soundtrack of Disney Princesses shrilly avowing to be true to themselves on the M25.
Buying ten minutes of good humour with a jelly bean.
Explaining thrice hourly why they can't get a baby elephant/flying carpet/bedroom slide/wishing chair/candyfloss machine.
I decide, when we return from the swimming pool, to rejoice in the weekly shampoo ritual because one day they'll manage it without me. Twenty minutes, four stinging eyes, one pair of soaked jeans and an unswabbable floor flood later I am longing to be expendable. I may battle nostalgia in my bath chair, but I sure will enjoy the rest!
What do you most miss as your children grow? What mundane routines do you reckon you'll miss most when they've flown?