I heard a blood-curdling scream from my wife and ran indoors fearing the worst. By the time, I made it upstairs she was on her knees with her head in her hands. She looked catatonic with fury.
My two-year-old is a feisty fellow at the best of times, but he’d really outdone himself here. Somehow he’d managed to take a squeezable bottle of honey from a high shelf in the kitchen cupboard. Having snuck upstairs, he then carefully poured the oozing stickiness all over the carpet and two recently re-upholstered armchairs. Nonplussed by the extent of his carnage, he decided to up the ante. Using a chair, he climbed into his cot and emptied out the rest of the honey before smearing it over his blankets and sheets.
This happened on Monday morning, but you’ve no doubt experienced similar woes. Domestic catastrophes are part and parcel of the toddler experience and apparently designed to fall whenever you’re rushing to make an urgent appointment, finish a deadline or complete pretty much any act under pressure.
Multiple studies have monitored soldiers returning from war and the effects of post-traumatic stress. But there’s now an interesting social experiment on Instagram that documents what parenthood does to the human psyche.
The account @gottoddlered reveal the before and after effects of what kids do to your mind and body. A fine specimen of strutting virility is reduced to a broken shell of a man with dramatically accelerated hair-loss.
An immaculately dressed go-getter with a cocksure swagger is reduced to a haggard mess. Beautiful women in the prime of life are shown post motherhood as beleaguered characters in desperate need of a good night’s sleep.
Culturally we’ve become addicted to the transformation narrative. But this plays like Cinderella in reverse. The shots are deliberately juxtaposed for comic effect, yet this is very much laughter in the dark.
And yet the overall impact is nonetheless reassuring. You’d imagine that seeing people being sucked dry of their youth and vigour would prove a bleak experience. But the snapshots of puke stains and domestic squalour are curiously uplifting.
Psychologically this adds up, too. Researchers from Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory have found that faced with a stressful encounter, comedy is a more effective coping strategy than solemnity. When the going gets tough, they found, positive humour serve you far better than cynicism.
In this way @gottoddlered provides a weird sense of solidarity. It shows that other parents are exhausted too. Their toddlers also show clear signs of being criminally insane. You’re not alone in trying to get the honey out of the carpet and turn back the troop of ants that quickly discovered the gloopy mess.
The message from this Insta account pulls no punches: the early years of parenthood are tough. But just try and keep your sense of humour, it urges. If you do, well, you might even survive.
ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM @gottoddlered