14/08/2014 16:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

What Makes Us Proud Of Our Children. (And It's Not What You Might Expect!)

What makes us proud of our children - the real things

Our children do plenty to make us proud. There are the obvious things. They learn to talk, they learn to read, they perform in their first school play. They learn to play the recorder as badly as their 29 classmates. And oh, what a joy that is. These are the photo-album moments that you share with grandparents and post on Facebook for all your friends and relations to coo over.

But then there are the other things. The things you couldn't have dreamed would make you proud, before you became a parent. Those moments when you glimpse, just for a second, a glimmer of civilisation.

Here are some of mine. I'm still waiting in hope for a few of these to actually happen!

1. The first time they manage to vomit in a bowl/toilet, rather than all over the bed/carpet/sofa/your best clothes.

My daughter was sick in a bowl for the first time this week. I am BURSTING with pride. It's a glorious realisation indeed, that one day you will no longer have to scrub vomit out of carpets in the middle of the night.

2. The first time they correctly use sarcasm

Perhaps that's just me. It's a family tradition. But my heart swelled with joy as my daughter sat swinging her legs in the chemist's, waiting for a prescription, saying "Oh, this is REALLY interesting. Mummy, this is ABSOLUTELY the most exciting thing in the WORLD. I'm SO glad we're here. There's NOTHING I'd rather be doing. Can we come here TOMORROW too?" Hardly Oscar Wilde, I know, but it makes me happy.

3. When they fall in love with your music.

There's nothing more delightful, for a grunge kid of the 90s, than listening to your four-year-old daughter singing along to Smells Like Teen Spirit at the top of her voice. Make the most of it, because sooner or later you'll be forced to listen to Justin Bieber or One Direction or whatever new horror is dreamed up next.

4. When they stop hiding every time somebody new comes into the house.

And climbing up you like a koala bear. And screaming like a banshee. And being scared of yellow cars (yes, really). Of course, when they emerge from the 'shy stage', they will then start sharing your innermost secrets with the plumber, the postman and the random stranger in the street.

'Mummy gets cross sometimes and Daddy has to sleep on the sofa,' they will cheerfully impart, as you look around desperately for a hole to swallow you up. Tact and diplomacy comes a little later. I hope.

5. When they actually say "Thank you" genuinely and voluntarily to somebody else.

Without being cajoled, threatened, glared at, or nudged. Even if it is then followed by 'I like you very much, Granny, because you give me nice things.' It's still progress, right? As I say, tact and diplomacy may be a little further off.

6. The first time they make you a cup of tea/a slice of toast/bring you a beer from the fridge.

We're a little way off this one, but I can dream. Friends with older children tell me tales of being brought breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. This is the future, people. One day, you will be able to palm off a whole range of household chores onto your children.

7. When they actually join in at a singing group.

Instead of just clinging to you and crying because it's too noisy, or running around like a loon while you sing 'Wind the Bobbin Up' to yourself and feel like an idiot.

One day, they will sit down in a circle and make a decent stab at singing the songs. Although there is a pretty strong likelihood that the next week, they will announce that the singing group is boring and babyish and they don't want to go any more.

8. The first time they eat anything vaguely resembling an actual meal.

Yes, beans on toast counts. It does. That's protein, carbs, and one of your five-a-day. It's a HUGE step up from the diet of toast and marmite they have previously survived on. And it means they're less likely to get scurvy! Hurrah!

9. When they pick up your iPhone, turn it on, and post something on your Facebook page.

A warning - be very, very careful about the pictures you have on your phone. And whatever you do, turn off the one-click-buy option on your Amazon app, or you may have a few nasty surprises. Oops. Still, it's nice that they are more proficient with a smartphone at the age of 18 months than your mother is at the age of 63.

10. When they learn to turn the television on by themselves.

This is a real breakthrough, not to be underestimated. Think about it. You teach them to read, sure, which gives them a lifetime of pleasure.


You teach them to turn on CBeebies, and that gives you the chance of a lie-in at weekends.


You're teaching them independence. It's a vital life skill.

11. When you realise it's been suspiciously quiet for ages

...and panic, but instead of finding all the kitchen cupboards and the fridge have been turned out and the house is on fire, you discover your child sitting quietly, reading a book to her younger sibling. It does happen. Sometimes.

So, what are the odd things which have made you proud of your children?

Are you secretly delighted when they're disdainful towards your mother-in-law?

Does your heart explode with pride when they push the toddler-group bully back (he was asking for it)?

Were you thrilled when your daughter railed against convention and announced that princesses were boring and she didn't like pink any more?