7 Totally Gross Things You'll Do When You're A Parent

If ever a subject was divisive, it’s sucking out your child's snot when they have a cold.
Little girl with a face full of chocolate food
Little girl with a face full of chocolate food

A strange thing happens when you become a parent, and it’s not the kind you read about in parenting books – in fact, you might not have any warning of it at all. When your child does something disgusting, it won’t phase you.

That’s right. Picture the grossest, most unpalatable bodily function – you’re thinking of poo, wee or sick, aren’t you? Now, accept the fact that your child is going to do one, or all, of these things on you, at some point in their young life, and hear this: you probably will not mind. You might not even notice.

In my experience, the same doesn’t seem to apply to spouses, or your parents, or your siblings, or anyone else you love dearly. It’s unique to having kids – and is very handy, as kids do it a lot.

This doesn’t translate to other people’s kids, though. Oh, no. If another kid has a runny nose – the kind that looks like two candles hanging from both of their nostrils – well, the sight of that makes me gag. But my own kids? I don’t mind at all. I’d lick it off, if I had to.

Here are seven of the grossest things you’ll find happen when you’re a parent.

You’ll accept a bogey from your child as a present.

My three-year-old son does this all the time, usually adding the words, “Here you go!” – and when I look around to see what he’s trying to give me, it’s a crusty bogey. Every. Time. I’m so used to it by now, it doesn’t phase me at all. I just take what I’m offered and go and get a tissue.

You will receive a sneeze into your open mouth, and laugh.

Just the other day, my son sneezed. No big deal, you might think, except we were face-to-face at the time, playing a tickling game. I was laughing, which means that the trajectory of his sneeze followed a direct route: from his mouth to mine. He found it hilarious, of course.

You will go out with sick on your clothes.

This applies to parents of younger babies and infants, but when your child is drinking (mostly) milk, there’s a lot of ‘posseting’ going on – when your baby brings a small amount of milk back up during, or after, a feed. There’s also sometimes projectile vomit. Either way, you’ll get it on your clothes, and like any self-respecting busy mum or dad, you will wipe it off and go out anyway, then spend the rest of the night pretending you don’t smell.

You’ll find yourself eating soggy leftovers.

Life as a parent mostly involves cooking a bunch of different baked goods that your child will or will not deign to eat, then picking up the bits that have been thrown to the floor and eating them. Sometimes, they will be pre-chewed. This has happened to me at children’s birthday parties too many times to count: I’ve gone in for a cheeky prawn cocktail crisp, only to discover it’s already been licked. When it’s your own child, you’ll stuff it in your mouth and eat it anyway.

Your child will wet the bed and you will sleep in it.

I recently got into bed and realised the mattress was damp and smelled faintly of urine. This is because my three-year-old son toddles in, most nights, and clambers in beside me to sleep... but not before he’s removed his nappy and pyjama bottoms. More often than not, he’ll leave a circular patch of wee. And I will notice this, be too tired to change the bed, and sleep on it anyway.

You will get covered in human poo, accept it and move on.

When my daughter was six weeks old, we took her on a trip to the Tate Modern. Her dad went into the men’s toilets to change her nappy, but it was one of those nappies... and she wasn’t finished. Yep. He had to catch it in his open hand, like a cup. He later realised he had a tiny speck of chocolate on his wrist, and licked it off (spoiler: it wasn’t chocolate).

You will suck out your child’s snot when they have a cold.

If ever a subject was divisive, it’s this. I’ve had full-scale wars with other parents who think this is going too far. But hear me out: you don’t have to do it directly with your mouth. I mean, you can, but I use one of these – a nasal aspirator. It has a little plastic tube you suck, with the other end placed at your child’s nostril. A piece of foam stops the snot from going into your mouth and down your throat. If a better or more satisfying invention exists, I do not know what it is. It will change your life. You’re welcome.