herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Mum's the word: It's about time that someone offered 'kids insurance' for parents

Damage by children can be expensive lesson to learn

Children fighting at home
Children fighting at home

It was a moment of joy as I waved goodbye to two faithful friends. My Habitat sofas had given up the ghost after 10 long years of service. Admittedly they died months ago, their ripped covers and arms a source of embarrassment and sadness. How could such stylish pieces have been reduced to this sorry mess?

The kids are responsible for their early demise. Purchased for grown-ups they were never intended to be more than comfy seats.

Never could I have imagined they would be used to construct castles and bridges, nor used as stepping-stones or, most detrimentally, trampolines.

But that is the lot of a family sofa, something no salesperson will point out, no matter how heavily pregnant you are while sofa shopping.

Over several months my sofas frayed, then ripped, as my kids poked tiny fingers into tiny seams unpicking them, to reveal (much to their joy) foam beneath. Creamy, soft, marshmallow-like foam.

draped

Gradually the arm of one sofa looked like a half-eaten mallow, its fabric completely ripped off. The other one had split back cushions. We draped blankets over the damage, in denial of the decay. Around this time I gave up inviting guests over.

So I paid a man with a van to dispose of them and an hour later a truck pulled up with replacements. This time they've been sprayed with a chemical sealant to protect them, prolong their life and make them spill-safe for five years, although I wouldn't put it past my three to figure out a way around that.

They have an uncanny knack of damaging things. I can deal with the holes in the wall where a shelf once hung until someone decided to see if it would support their bodyweight. I can even cope with the lump of plaster that miraculously "fell" off the wall weeks after it was painted.

Car damage is tougher to swallow, however. In fairness, the kids had no idea of the mess they were causing when they put their hands all over the car exterior after being smothered in sun cream. It's an expensive lesson to learn, but it seems SPF and metallic paint do not mix and our once-lovely car now bears dozens of tiny paw prints.

I've been told that the only solution is a re-spray, which is way pricier than a new sofa. It makes me wonder if there isn't a niche opening for 'kids insurance' for parents. If anyone starts selling it I'd be first to take out a policy.

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