Hands up who’s read Lord of the Flies? (Hand down, Dad, I read your school copy of the book: just two pages out of the entire book were annotated.) Those who did read the whole book: have any of you noticed your house has gone just a little bit Lord of the Flies since having a toddler? (If you have never read Lord of the Flies, but still want to know if this applies to you: essentially, if your life has started to occasionally resemble a dystopian chaos run by toddlers, this applies to you.)
Here are eight times having a toddler was like Lord of the Flies.
Remember the twins in Lord of the Flies? Sam and Eric. The boys on the island stopped treating them as individuals, and referred to them both as Samneric. Does anyone else’s toddler refer to them as ‘Mummydaddy’ (or ‘Daddymummy’)? Or even just use ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ completely interchangeably? You are parents, not people, and don’t you forget it.
2. Overreact and destroy things
The children in Lord of the Flies become paranoid that a beast is living on the island. When a dead parachutist lands in a tree, they believe that it is the beast. Simon, the lone voice of reason, discovers it is just a man and tries to tell the group. In an hysterical frenzy, they kill him for his troubles. Meanwhile, your average toddler may, on any given day, decide that this banana they asked for mere seconds ago is rather suspicious, is not at all what they wanted, and may in fact not be a banana. Furthermore, this, this right here, this table, minding its own business, sitting exactly where it always does, is an interloper and deeply offensive. It must leave. Now. A Lord of the Flies-esque hysterical frenzy will ensue. Voice of reason Mummydaddy will be battered with screeches of ‘go away’ for attempting to defend the table. See the similarity? Be afraid. Be very afraid. (Oh wait, sorry, that’s The Fly, isn’t it? Wrong fly reference.) Much like in Lord of the Flies, should the toddler form a group, they will become much more dangerous. The group mentality can be summarised as ‘destructive’. Things will be thrown. Chanting and ritual dancing may occur.
3. When you’ve been naughty, cry
You recall what the boys in Lord of the Flies do when they are finally found by adults in their filthy, unkempt, may have murdered a couple of people state? They cry. What does your toddler do when found by an adult, covered in sudocrem, totally naked, and surrounded by the strewn corpses of the toilet roll? Probably cry.
4. Offerings to the beast
The boys in Lord of the Flies offer up a pig’s head on a stick to appease the ‘beast’. Presumably, similar thinking is what leads toddlers to present the cat with a piece of Lego, an Iggle Piggle and half a plastic egg.
5. Piggy’s glasses
Much like Piggy’s glasses in Lord of the Flies, any glasses wearing parent of a toddler will know that glasses get confiscated and taken back to the lair.
6. Pig chant
Like the ‘choir’ in Lord of the Flies, many toddlers have taken to chanting relentlessly about a pig. Admittedly, they are unlikely to advocate killing Peppa Pig or slitting her throat. Nonetheless, the reasonless, barbaric obsession with hunting down the pig in Lord of the Flies has its parallel in the toddler’s relentless pursuit of more Peppa Pig.
7. The conch
Remember the conch? The all important object that had to be held in order to speak in Lord of the Flies? Toddlers love an object that must be held at all times, will be fought over by other children, and confers great importance upon the possessor. In fact, the average toddler is grasping at least seven such objects at any given time. Six of these belong to Mummydaddy. Five are breakable.
8. The bad influence
Remember Jack? The boy who gradually leads all the others into savagery in Lord of the Flies? Your toddler is really very sweet-natured, actually quite well behaved, knows the rules, right? There’s always a Jack. Every parent knows there is always one other toddler leading your really quite well behaved child astray. There is always a Jack. If you don’t know this, and are wondering what on earth I’m talking about, you’re Jack’s parent. Sorry you had to find out this way.
So, there you have it. Your toddler starts the day in an orderly house, excited about the opportunities ahead of them. By lunchtime, said toddler is naked, crying, inexplicably dirty, and surrounded by the debris of what were once toys. It’s Lord of the Flies. (Don’t worry, this is not a cause for significant concern. If you are able to relate to eight times having a toddler was like A Clockwork Orange, however…)