Sunday, 22 November 2009
Why don’t the kids do as I ask?
I always thought I was persuasive. After all, I work in Marketing and PR. Yet though I hate to admit it, my persuasive charms are wasted on my children. Are they genetically programmed to ignore everything I say?
Over the years I’ve read all the parenting books. I’ve been to Positive Parenting courses. I’ve even swotted for coffee mornings so that I could appear vaguely knowledgeable amongst the mothers who know. But I didn’t pass.
Good mummies don’t want to share their intellectual property. They don’t want to share the inside knowledge - the gen - on how to kid-wrangle. I lag behind. My ADD addled brain can’t remember from one minute to the next what instructions I’ve given them already.
Was bedtime 9.30 or 10.00? Were they allowed to stay up on a school night to watch something vaguely educational, or not? Is it ok to eat seven Weetabix, because after all they are full of healthy fibre? I can’t recall.
What’s worse is they remember. The kids know everything. They know that if they wait till 7pm when I’ve already downed a nerve-soothing glass or two of vino that I may just say ‘yes’ to all sorts of things. They wait and watch, and then pounce. Dazed and distracted I’m likely to say ‘sure, you can go to that party, and yes you can have the last twenty pounds in my purse to buy junk food at the movies, and of course I’ll pick you up after netball even though you do have legs and last I checked, could still walk!'
Then there is the blatant blanking.
‘Can you please empty the dishwasher?’ (yes the dishes again! A household with five people has a daily Everest of dishes.)
She scoots upstairs and disappears into the bathroom. She has not suddenly discovered that she is covered in slime. There is no urgent need to worship the shower god. I am being blanked because I’m asking her to do something she does not want to do.
She is the queen of the blank. Son’s not much better, and the youngest daughter is learning fast from her older siblings. She used to be so good, so obliging.. Ooh the rot is spreading!
The funny thing is that in a way I’m reassured by their innocent naughtiness. In the dark days, when the ex and I had just parted the kids watched me with twitching eyes. They jumped to attention every single time I asked. They compassionately did their jobs and their homework. No one lifted a penny or five from my change purse. Not one of the three kids misbehaved, or acted out or was horrible, arrogant or lazy. No one ran away from home and joined the circus, no one dated an unusual person with pierced private parts, or failed to do their homework, or got rude notes from school.
They were quiet and polite and caring. They were good kids, and they told me often that I was a good mum.
Strange sad days. I guess they were too nervous to lay any more strife upon my shoulders for fear it may be the last straw.
When My Englishman first met my kids at home in NZ he commented that everyone ran rings around me. Even the dog and cat had me under their control, he said. He was indignant on my behalf and determined to change their ways. He didn’t realise that they’d only just adapted to the marriage breakup and had settled back into their wicked ways.
Tonight, four years later and half a world away, I breezed in from a hectic day racing from the printer to the supermarket, and found the girls watching i-Carly in the dark surrounded by mess. Dark Princess ignored me when I asked her to do the dishes. Son quietly pocked £1 in loose change I’d left on the bench and the youngest one (she who can do no wrong!), nicked off with the last of the digestive biscuits (and right before dinner too!).
As I coated the chicken with five spice and soy sauce, I smiled quietly to myself. Everyone is behaving wickedly. Even the bear regularly raids the bin and scatters chicken bones all over the carpet. They must feel relaxed and at home after 18 months of change. As good as that is, I’d still like some advice from the ‘good mums’ out there.
How do you get your kids to do as you ask?
at 3:40 pm