GUYS! put your school uniform in the wash before your bath please!
GUYS! put your school uniform in the wash before your bath please!
After a rather successful half-term holiday break, I haven’t seen the cubs for a few days. They’re with me for the next four days but I’ve missed them terribly.
I pick them up from after-school club on what was for me a testing day at work. All stresses fell away after I saw them. Youngest came out first, looking thoroughly fed up; 50% of him seemed to consist of tomato soup, the folly of a white, cotton school top.
Driving home, eldest gives me the full rundown of events from the last time we saw each other.
Someone has used the F word. One of her classmates.
My ears prick up.
‘I told her that I was going to tell the teachers; she begged me not to then started to cry!’
My inner psychologist spiked.
‘It was fake tears though, she kept looking to see if I was looking!’
So what did you do?
‘I told the teachers, but then she cried and they let her off. Then she told other people that I had said it and I AM SO ANNOYED!’
‘Because she never got punished! Then mummy text her mummy and they had a row!’
I smiled ever so slightly, but probably wider than I realised.
I dig deep for a response. I immediately think of the different ways in which my ex and I have approached this situation. For me, this situation does not require a knee-jerk response. There aren’t many situations in life that do.
What I felt was an appropriate response, was to help her deal with such situations when they happen again. I wanted to give her a script that she could call upon in future. I could fix the situation, but how would that benefit her?
I immediately thought of the differences in upbringing between my ex and I, and how this was playing out in our own parenting.
After listening to her, we picked apart the interaction, adding a rationale to each step.
You’re going to come up against people like her all your life. If you let them get under your skin, they’ll ruin your day whilst they enjoy theirs. Learn to blank them out and avoid them.
She went deeper.
‘So mummy texting her mum was wrong?’
I wouldn’t say it was wrong, but look at the motivation. We’re both trying to protect you; just in different ways. Both are done out of love.
I could see her brain ticking over. Then she shook her head.
‘I think I’ll avoid her for a little while daddy’
On this special day I want to thank all of you that read my ramblings, and wish you, your nearest and your dearest, a very Merry Christmas!
For me and the cubs, I’m grateful that our story continues. I buried the hatchet and invited the ex over to stay, giving her the opportunity to wake up with them and open presents.
Peace is restored. Or it will be when she leaves… 😉
Merry Christmas all xx
Tell cubs this;
When showing adults something, the object does not need to touch our retina.
I’ve hit upon an idea, and it’s a good one.
Okay, okay, total honesty time, my daughter has hit on an idea which was actually a re-hash of how we used to do things before the split.
With her being 8 and he being 4, the usual rivalries etc. rear their heads from time to time. A household can descend into a lawless wasteland if behaviour is left unchallenged.
We’ve been going through the normal challenges that children pass through, where they exercise the human condition of testing boundaries. I am a disciplinarian, but also a humanitarian. Being brought up by a strict father (including corporal punishment) I decided way before I had the cubs that I wouldn’t be that kind of guy. After all, what does beating a child ever teach them, that the bigger and stronger person is always right?
I could never hit my cubs. Such outbursts smack of frustration, a lack of control and revenge for not being obeyed.
In a technique honed with my daughter, I prefer to reason things out in conversation, with age appropriate language. Tone of voice and cadence also came in to play, supported by changing facial expressions. It seemed to work. She’s well-adjusted and appears to be quite rational.
He’s a little different. He gets frustrated quickly which I suspect is linked with his rough start in life and the fact that his diction isn’t quite where it could be for a child his age; he struggles to be understood at times.
His sister can also press his buttons pretty easily and she does so often.
We had just emerged from a period of them sniping at each other, where my techniques weren’t working. I resorted to separating them and temporary banishment to respective bedrooms.
She broke the embargo to come and talk to me.
‘You know dad you should maybe bring back the star system. Every time we do something good, we get a star. When we’re not so good, you take one away.’
This was something we used to do regularly and it worked particularly well. Great idea, I told her, and gave her a hug. I also asked her why she winds her brother up all the time.
‘Because he reacts!’ she states, before heading back to her confines.
The notice board in the kitchen now has two sections. One for her and one for him. Stars are drawn for good behaviour and removed for violations. I’m not too specific as what constitutes what, as I don’t want them to escape on a technicality.
It’s been in force about a week now and seems to be working. I added the further incentive that if either got to 10 stars, I would convert those stars into pounds, or an equivalently valued treat.
If only my dad had been as inventive.
Today I’ve been reflecting
On a conversation I had with a ex-work colleague some time ago.
Knowing me to be a doting dad, she always asks after the cubs. I give her updates whenever we catch up.
I take great pride in recalling a recent shopping trip my daughter and I had, where the command of the morning was that the only way to make progress through the shopping mall, was by stepping on rectangle floor tiles and only rectangle floor tiles. She was quite specific in this.
We held hands, shopping bags evenly distributed and made our way gingerly through the centre.
We moved with the accuracy of a Suisse timepiece. A watching Police Officer nodded his approval with a smile, whilst a retired couple commented that ‘it may take us a while’ to get where we were going.
We don’t care. This was our moment and where was the harm?
All was going well until we happened upon a large area of circular tiles. Our expedition ground to a halt. Very, very poor and inconsiderate architecture. What were they thinking?
We stood in contemplation for what seemed like an age, before I turned to her and asked, well now what?
We decided to turn back. Rules are rules.
My ex-colleague seemed puzzled. ‘Sounds like she has you wrapped around her little finger!’
Perhaps, I smiled.
I then told her that we dance a lot too. It doesn’t matter where we are. If we hear good music, we dance. We’re quite uninhibited.
‘You do realise’ my colleague said, ‘that you’re setting the standard to which she will judge all men…’
Yes I do.
‘She might be disappointed if her partner doesn’t respond to her needs in a way that she’s become accustomed’
But my daughter will also know her worth. She’s not a princess; she’s a determined individual. She will know that if her partner doesn’t give her butterflies in her stomach, knows effortlessly how to make her smile and is comfortable enough to show her his true feelings, then he’s probably not the man for her.
I’m sure I’m not growing a monster so for now, we dance, we pathfind and we make memories. This is what life is about.
After all; she is only 8.
Why single parents are so tired.
They come thick and fast and at any time. Now I’m a great believer in educational opportunity so I aim to inform as much as possible.
When I’m tired though….
|What I should have said||What I actually said|
|What’s your favourite colour||Adults don’t tend to have favourite colours||Blue|
|Who’s that? (TV weatherman)||I’m not sure; his name will come up shortly||Alan|
|Who’s your favourite Power Ranger||I don’t really have a favourite, as I’m an adult||Alan, the Purple one. You may not know him as he only fights crime on a Saturday|
|Where are they going (car driving the opposite way)||I couldn’t possibly know that||Primark|
|How fast can you run (after watching Usain Bolt)||Fast humans can do about 20 mph||Just a little slower than him|
|Where’s that sheep’s mum||Not too far away||Driving that tractor|
|Why’s Saturday||It just is||?????|
|Why are those birds on the roof||It’s a safe perch away from predators||They’re keeping an eye on you|
|What keep the planet spinning||Interactional forces of the magnetic poles||Children eating their vegetables|
|Why can you see the moon during the day||It’s a satellite of earth that orbits independently to our rotation||It’s keeping an eye on you|
I’ll set them straight before they do any exams.
‘If you fought the Queen, who would win?’
Just your average morning in my household, and my daughter doesn’t disappoint.
It’s the end of their stint with me for the school holidays. Having pulled my back yesterday (on my birthday!), we had what was primarily a down day.
Late afternoon I felt sorry for my caged cubs. We jumped in the car and went to our favourite park.
Parenting trick; take them out near their supper time. They’ll then naturally leave the park in search of their next meal.
I had a plan for supper but was pressed for time. At the stove, they glossed over the fact that my usual ‘come and get it’ was replaced with ‘well, that’ll have to do’.
She finishes eating first, and leans into my personal space to tell me something.
“Daddy; there’s this story in the bible, about a stranger who knocks on a man’s door…”
Quite familiar with the bible, I’m at a loss for this particular story.
She chimes on.
“A man opens the door and the stranger asked ‘do you have a space for me to sleep?’ but the man said no”
Definitely not familiar with this story.
“The stranger then says ‘but I can help you! I can cook you a wonderful meal!'”
I’m wondering if this a Samaritans remix or some stranger danger thing that has become clouded in her brain.
She continues and I continue to fork food into my face.
“So the man let’s the stranger in and he starts cooking a soup. But the stranger hadn’t brought any ingredients so instead, he popped in a magic toenail…”
At this precise moment, something in my mouth went crunch.
“and then he popped to the neighbours to get some broccoli…”
I’m not listening any more.
The final element of confusion flooded in and brought me back to reality when she tailed off with,
“I think it might be Jewish”
She angles her head in thought.
I fear my appetite may never return.
“Do you like 1956?”
Are these specific dated events? I’m not sure what you’re asking me…
“No! IT’S A SONG; BY KING”
“No wait; Prince…”
You need to understand, this came minutes after her favourite song revelation,