WOULD you pay someone £500 to potty train your child?

If you’ve just waded through the aftermath of yet another “accident”, I’m guessing you might be tempted. A specialist makes a living out of it, so of course those with money enough to offload all the unappealing bits of childcare are going to divvy up.

This week a mother who posted an online ad offering £50 an hour for someone to get her three-year-old daughter out of nappies by Christmas has got all the online critics trying to shoot her down in flames.

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True, she admitted she didn’t have time to do it herself and the daughter doesn’t like authority which makes you wonder if she has time for much else for her daughter and how on earth she’s going to cope when she’s a teenager.

But at least she does some of the childcare herself. What about those with full-time nannies, nurseries, mothers’ helps who hardly see their children let alone teach them anything. I don’t see much criticism of them, so let’s not be so hypocritical.

Frankly, I remember that I’d have cheerfully paid someone to teach Senior Son how to tie his shoelaces. It took him weeks - months - to grasp it and I had visions of him in a lifetime of Velcro.

The rich have always bought in help. Posh mothers used even to send their children away for the first year or so to be breast-fed by wet nurses. A brief spell at home in a nursery at the top of the house and then away to school. Children? What children?

But even the rest of us are gradually off loading our responsibilities. We have state funded nurseries and child care. Schools often give children their breakfast, entertain them after school and in the holidays. Teachers are expected not only to teach children traditional subjects but also all about sex, good manners, how to use a knife and fork and how to swim.

Now more and more five year olds are arriving at school still in nappies, parents clearly expect teachers to do the potty training as well.

At least some mothers are prepared to pay to get the job done. Better than not doing it all. So maybe it’s time to give them a break.

And if you potty trained your children all by yourself – just think how much money you saved.

MEANWHILE in a pilot scheme, mothers have been given £200 of shopping vouchers if they breast feed their babies.

Rewarded for doing their best for their own children?

At this rate, the NHS will soon be paying them £500 for getting their children out of nappies.

I’M recovering from being loved to bits…

Americans are renowned for being friendly but Washington DC must be the random conversation capital of the US. A week there was like being overwhelmed by a load of excitable Labrador puppies.

New Yorkers don’t have the time. Texans don’t have a clue (“England? That’s in east Texas, right?” a checkout girl once asked me.) But in DC, there’s nothing stopping them when they hear an English accent.

From scarily trendy black teenagers in a burger bar to grand ladies in a posh cocktail lounge, everyone wanted to talk. In stores, coffee shops, boats even in a swimming pool, strangers struck up conversation and were our instant best friends. They offered a welcome, help, a game of football, advice on everything from tourist spots to happy hour bars. The lady in the swimming pool even invited me to lunch, “So I can hear you talk about England…”

Fellow passengers on trains, trolley cars or boats just launched into discussions. Most popular topics were Meghan Markle and Brexit, about which they were surprisingly knowledgeable, but this is a political city. A surprising number apologised for Trump.

It was in many ways delightful. Such friendliness, so many smiles, so many glimpses into other people’s lives, such a welcome…

On the other hand, when I finally got on the plane home amid a crowd of Brits, we nodded and smiled, then adjusted our trays, our screens, our head phones and lapsed into utter silence for the entire seven-hour flight.

Maybe I’m too British, but after all that smiling chat, to be honest, the silence was wonderfully restful…

WHILE in Washington we went to see A Christmas Carol in Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was shot – the box is draped in flags in perpetual memory.

The production was very jolly – a rather corpulent black Scrooge was a surprise but a great success, as was a random steam engine introduced for no obvious reason except to add to the fun. Dickens, as always, triumphed.

A sign at the entrance prohibited the carrying of hand guns into the theatre.

If only John Wilkes Booth had paid attention…

I’M sure velvet evening shoes are just the thing among the upper classes, but when Prince William wore his to the premiere of the latest Star Wars film he just looked as though he’d absent-mindedly wandered out in his slippers.

FULL marks to the steward on the Virgin East Coast trains from Edinburgh on Wednesday evening when a woman in a long fur coat helped herself to half a dozen miniatures from the drinks trolley – twice.

“That’s just RUDE, madame,” he said, much to the approval of everyone else in the carriage.

Fur coat and no manners. Obviously her parents were too busy to teach her.