What should we do with the kids?
Any clues? Really. I’m asking. What should we do with them? I’m clueless. They’re just so, hmm, challenging. Intelligent. And belligerent. Argumentative. Tech-savvy, wifi hacking geniuses. Even the 11 year old has been caught hiding the laptop inside the Lego box inside the puzzle box, under the craft box. Why do we even have a craft box?
We have a craft box because we desperately believe that we may be able to create that picture perfect home life. You know the one? Where kids eat their veg and play the piano, in between making homemade thank you cards and whittling animals from the driftwood we find on our weekend walks by the coast? That life, yes. Not the life where we shout incessantly at them and demand apologies for their backchat, “I didn’t SAY ANYTHING” chat. That chat.
What should we do with the kids? Make them play outside, like the feral ones, who are from the wrong end of town and have no boundaries? Should we adopt the full hippy level and go with the flow? Let them make their own mistakes? At least they’ll learn to fail. We don’t want snowflakes for children. Shudder.
Perhaps we should nag them constantly like a 1950s housewife (I’m assuming that’s what they did back then, while baking cakes, wearing full make-up and a cocktail dress?). It’s just not practical. Firstly, I can’t be bothered to brush my hair most days, never mind create a masterpiece, complete with co–ordinated twin set.
So we attempt to adopt a middle ground. Admittedly, this is due to exasperation and exhaustion rather than a deliberate parenting strategy. We argue, complain, we despair… and we give in. A shouty-huggy-contradictory state of survival. There’s just no more energy. Or wine.
But then left to their own devices (literally and metaphorically; the irony of the old adage is not lost on our generation) they do fail. And it’s painful to watch. And just so predictable. It’s like the first few minutes of Casualty, where you play Opening Sequence Roulette, guessing which poor character is going to be killed, maimed, or survive.
Which child will play School Homework Roulette? Detention, exam fail or fluke? Which child will enjoy today’s game of Forgot The PE Kit? Musical Instrument Drama day? Whereby the drama is that the musical instrument is at home. And said child – thank the Lord – is not. Lost their phone/ coat/ trainers/ homework/ house keys/ bank card/ pencil case/ PE kit/ school jumper/ scarf/ school bag/ PE kit. Did I say PE kit? The incredible disappearing PE kit. How is it possible that a bag of sports kit goes missing, when every other item of clothing can be found easily by simply looking down, on the bedroom floor. “Where’s my H&M jumper, Mum?” “Erm, three paces in from the door and just left of last Tuesday’s outfit. In between the sock piles, yes? See it? SEE IT?!!!!!!”
Of course they cannot. They can’t see anything, hear anything or do anything useful or helpful. Unless of course they want something. Like their banned phones back. Then, incredibly, and again so predictably, they can easily unload a dishwasher like a ninja, locate a lost SIM card with their eyes closed and a curled-up charger wire, through three brick walls.
But what should we do with them? To constantly chime “I told you so” is just so tedious. To nag is depressing. To beg is a no no. Although frequently required and occasionally successful. Just don’t tell Mum.
My current winning technique may seem extreme, but it seems the most effective. I just go to bed. Before them. Still no packed school bags or signs of going to bed? Just disappear. At 8pm.
It took a good 15 minutes before my audience of three appeared, standing aghast in the bedroom doorway. “What are you doing?” they demanded. “I am going to bed”, I calmly replied. “Why though?”, they asked? “I’m just tired” I said, while screaming inside, “Because you’ve broken me you ungrateful, stroppy, gits and I need to GET AWAY FROM YOU. That’s bloody well why!”. I smile and turn off my bedside light. “Night! Love you.”
They stared at me, at each other and then they wandered away confused. Fight the good fight, fellow parents. For the small wins are the most rewarding.