Hello, everyone. I’m very honoured to receive this award, along with my husband. He would have loved to be here tonight, but he elected to stay home because I barricaded him in the house with our children. I don’t get out much, and our babysitter has grown up and found a real job, so I really had no choice. The good news is, I’ve just heard that he’s in the running for Worst Father of the Week, for his unwavering enforcement of Rule #17: No Singing Show Tunes at the Dinner Table. I know he’s watching this, so I’m going to take this opportunity to say to him, “I love you. You’re the wind beneath my wings. Also, please make sure you’ve turned the oven off when you go to bed, and it’s going to be cold tonight, so the cat needs a hot water bottle.”
If I may, I’d like to share a little about my journey towards tonight’s honour. I started on this path back in December 2011. Or maybe January 2012. Or even February. My memory is a little fuzzy. The children were small and no one was sleeping much back then. I do remember the event that led to my first award very clearly, though. It was deep winter, one of the worst in Europe, 12 below in our backyard, and a snowstorm was raging. I refused to let my then-three-year-old rollerblade down to the village pâtisserie naked, on the grounds that she didn’t know how to rollerblade, and our village had no pâtisserie. And just like that, I won my first award: Meanest Mom.
In 2013 I won the regional qualifier, Worst Mother in the School, for not letting my six-year-old wear full makeup to class, and again the next year for enforcing the No Dessert Before Dinner rule. I must say, I’m proud of this one. It’s tricky to win with such an overused routine, but I put a new spin on it by serving ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert and broccoli soup for dinner. The screaming fit that ensued secured my win.
My husband, in the meantime, was scooping up awards of his own – at national level: Most Unfair Person in Switzerland, for banning glitter slime in his car, and an honourable mention in the Least Favourite Parent category for suggesting that the 12-year-old mow the lawn.
In 2016 we won Worst Mother and Worst Father I’ve Ever Met, separately, and I’d be lying if I told you I remembered exactly what for. Awards were being hurled at us almost daily, and it was a confusing time. It was around then that we decided to combine forces and go for the big one: Worst Parents in the World.
We thought we had it in the bag in 2017, but we were outclassed by Bob and Sharon from New York, who served only vegetables every night for a week. Bob, I’m pleased to tell you, has recently been nominated for the lifetime achievement award, Worst Father Ever. Well done, Bob.
Similarly, in 2018, we thought victory was in sight. We’d been told “I hate you!” 20 times in 15 minutes for forcing our youngest daughter to clean a mess she’d made in her room herself, with no help from us or a professional cleaning service. But at the last minute the award went to a couple from Italy for refusing to buy their four-year-old a new iPhone with unlimited data and personal hotspot. The winners elected to remain anonymous, for fear of reprisal from their child’s friends, so … congratulations to you, Anonymous Couple.
Things went a bit quiet for us, after that, and to be honest, I thought we’d plateaued. But this year, we finally made it, after a weekend when no children were allowed to leave the house until they’d done their chores. We held fast in the face of accusations of kidnapping and child cruelty, of threats to phone the police, and a thwarted attempt to knot sheets together and escape out of the window.
In closing, I’d like to thank our two judges. You’ve always been generous with your awards, my darlings, and I know I speak for your father, too, when I say that, without the pair of you, we could never have become what we are today … The Worst Parents in the World.
By Robyn Goss
Robyn is a part-time writer and full-time slave to her two young daughters. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, she now lives in a little cow-rich village in Switzerland. She spends her free time making To Do lists of things she’ll probably never get around to doing (have the car cleaned; vacuum under the bed; run a half-marathon) and putting the finishing touches to her third novel. To read more of Robyn’s writing, click hereor find her on her Facebook page, Loco Parentis.
Illustration by Albina Nogueira
Albina Nogueira has been a primary school teacher since 1992, and a writer and illustrator since 2006. She currently lives in Switzerland, but her homeland is Portugal. She is also the author of Letters to Grandparents and Hairdresser. To find out more, like her on Facebook or see her books in Amazon.