So, today’s topic of the day – parenting. I know I must be feeling brave, just plain stupid or drunk. I’m no Gina Ford, (although she did save our bacon when our children were young) and I’m certainly not super-nanny. I would describe myself as a mixture of a screaming banshee, super-woman, a neurotic carer, an over-protective (and intrusive) mother, irresponsible adult and fun-loving child. So, some good, some quirky and some bad traits it has to be said.
I’ve decided to stop reading, talking or observing what other parents or parent gurus have to say. It’s a bit like reading ‘House and Garden’ when your sat in a falling down house, where you can’t see the floor for mess or put anything on the kitchen sides and you are sure the dogs have wee’d somewhere, you just don’t know where. No need for any further self-flagellation, reality can provide quite enough of that thank you.
So, I’m going it alone………from a spiritual perspective they say that you get to have the parents and children that you are meant to have to enable you to develop and learn the lessons you have chosen for your time on earth. If that’s the case, then I can only conclude that, for better or worse, my children have chosen me, as I have them, and trying to be something I’m not may do more harm than good (debatable I know).
When Mr D calls me at the end of the day to review/discuss my approach to parenting and outcomes achieved, our conversation generally goes something like this:
1. Are the children alive and well? Yes
2. Did the children get a) sanctions at school, b) any detentions (our eldest son after a 10-week term has already banked 10 and c) any awards or rewards? Generally, a mixed answer. You never know with George he keeps his approach close to his chest and only tells you on a need to know basis, you know at the start of the day with Harry as he makes a conscious decision in the morning about whether he is going to school to learn or entertain the class for the day and Lilly wouldn’t dream of any kind of naughtiness as it’s not in her DNA…. yet…….
3. Did you have any arguments with anyone today about the children? Normally a mixed response to this question depending on: hormones, quality of sleep and the number of plonkers I have had to interact with
4. Do the children want to speak to me? Generally, no as you are not a PS4 game, film, scooter, football, mermaid or build a bear
Our general parenting approach has driven a mixture of red, amber and green responses, as demonstrated by comments such as:
1. Red: omg, did you just see what that child did, omg did you just hear the mother, all the way through to a teacher actually saying, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that………..
2. Amber: well, I’m not sure that it would be our approach but all children are different………….
3. Green: oh yes, all parents should be like you, you are our parenting guru………
These responses are generally driven through our slightly eccentric approach to parenting which swings from full empowerment through to ‘lets consider boarding school’. The environment that our kids live in, is diverse to say the least. Our gorgeous cleaner (commonly referred to as an angel) calls us as the crazy family but I think/hope that is a compliment.
At home our children can be somewhat feral – generally bare foot, sometimes dressed sometimes not and quite alternative in their choice of games. Right now, their favourite is poker (which they are very good at), closely followed by jumping over outside furniture on a scooter, playing trampoline football (don’t ask) and using daddy as a girl’s world substitute.
We are a household run on rules and structure but with a crazy culture wrapped around it all. We have a few individual rules which work for us, they include:
1. The children must speak to adults with respect but in return adults must also treat them with respect – if not they fetch me for a little chat with the person/people involved………..that obviously always goes well……
2. Swearing is allowed if you are a) over 18 years old b) in a health and safety situation c) used in the correct context d) able to spell the word and, perhaps most importantly, e) didn’t realise the children were within hearing distance
3. We have a penalty charge system in place which means you can forget stuff for school but if I have to go back and fetch it there is a £5 flat fee deductible from your go henry account – I have found it to be a great way to support the housekeeping budget
4. Our children are not allowed to drink but are well educated in wine so they know which one to fetch me from the wine fridge
5. If you forget to pick up your underwear up of the bathroom floor then it will turn up either in your workbag, schoolbag or bed – it tends not to happen that often now, clearly an effective deterrent
6. There are 2 dinner choices: take it or leave it
7. We generally allow the children free choice when it comes to their activities and sport but, recently, have been ‘marked down’ by them on our parenting ability for: refusing to fly Harry out to watch Real Madrid play, flying Lilly to Chicago so she can drink cherry coke there and back and refusing to pay for George to go to a scooter park in Pennsylvania just because it’s good (he thought £2,500 was great value)
8. We try not to have full blown arguments in front of the kids but neither do we pretend life is always rosy – we do bicker, well I say bicker, it generally means Mr D has done something wrong. If the children are mis-behaved we expect an apology but, equally, if we get it wrong as parents we also need to apologise to them
9. And in all honesty, yes, some days I do loose it in front of the kids – this generally entails tears, tantrums and incoherent rambling. Each of my children deal with it differently – George immediately runs to the bathroom to get a cold flannel as he assumes I am having one of my hot flushes, Harry brings me a dog to cuddle as they don’t answer back and Lilly brings me a copy of vogue and suggests I have a lay down
And that’s about it. So far all of us have survived, some days better than others but we are all individuals and not afraid to be our quirky, independent selves – the children may revolt against the level of eccentric behaviour they have to endure or they may be liberated by it for the rest of their lives – time will tell, I’ll keep you posted……….