So I'm sitting here with a cup of tea. Oh ok, and a chocolate biscuit. You know me too well. I need it ok? I'm feeling a bit teary. I could blame it on Dulwich Divorcee's lions which has made me blubber all over the keyboard already this morning, but in reality it has nothing to do with that. No, the real truth of the matter is that I had to discipline Renée this morning and it made her cry and that in turn made me cry too. Only not in front of her, of course. I saved that until I got home. It's just not easy this parent malarkey. You want what's best for your children of course. You want them to be happy, but you also want them to be well-behaved and full of sparkling wit and able to go to bed without 8 stories a night and eat all their vegetables and never complain or whine or ask 'Are we there Yet Mummy?' for the zillionth time and never poo their pants in the middle of a crowd of people or throw an almighty wobbler at a supermarket checkout for that matter. Ok, that might just be a little too much to ask. Happy and not a complete source of embarrassment will have to do (for now). We'll work on the others later.
But how is this best achieved? Because some days I'm at a complete loss as to how to be a (good) parent. I once heard someone mention the word 'discipline'...although I wasn't quite sure what they were talking about so I had to go home and Google it. No, but seriously, I may even need some help here. With one child discipline was easy. A child did something wrong, they were told off, made aware of why it was wrong and the world carried on. If they repeated it, there was a trip to the naughty step, treats were withheld and they learnt never to do that naughty something again. Easy. Result - a well-behaved, thoughtful, wonderful child. And of course, not forgetting a happy, proud and not completely insane Mother. BUT, child number two enters the fray and it's an altogether different story.
This is what I'm talking about. One child does something naughty, child is told off and made aware of why it is naughty. Same child is naughty again. Child is sent to the naughty step. Meanwhile, other child also does something naughty, desperate for a bit of the action. Child is told off, during which time, original naughty child has wondered away from naughty step and is helping themselves to sweeties from the cupboard. Yes, I'm not quite sure why sweeties are within child's range, but they just are. (Note to self - move sweeties). So, child is taken away from sweeties and put back on naughty step. Second child is naughty again. Both children on naughty step. Mother is beginning to fray around the edges at this point, especially when both children start pulling each other's hair. Mother decides naughty step for two is not such a good idea and instead settles on a kind and thoughtful talking to. Children listen and promise not to be naughty again. Mother is happy that it has gone so well and decides to make herself a cup of tea in celebration. Just as the kettle has reached boiling point, children are naughty again. Strangely enough Mother has also reached boling point and decides that threats have to be instigated. 'If you're naughty one more time, then we won't go to Miss K's house this afternoon'. Children think about it and are good. For 5 minutes. Then naughty again. But can Mother follow-through with threat? Of course she can't. Because a visit to Miss K's house is also a break for Mother and following-through would mean a whole day inside with the two terrorists instead of just half of one. So children continue to be naughty whilst Mother silently sobs in the corner, determined to see through a threat at some point in the near future.
So that's my problem. Now I have two children, my follow-through leaves rather a lot to be desired. And, unluckily for me, my children know this too.
So quickly back to this morning, which is the real reason for this post. I was on my way to drop Edie at nursery before delivering Renée to school. This happens twice a week and on these days we leave the house so early that we don't have time for breakfast. Instead, Edie eats at nursery and Renée has a croissant on the way to school. It's a huge treat for her as she just loves them. But, this morning, she was being, how can I put this nicely? I can't. She was being a complete pain in the a*$e. She was dawdling, whining, trying to pull my trousers down (?), stopping to inspect dog poo on the pavement (!), and refusing to speak to someone we bumped into who she knows well. To top it all off I was trying to get Edie in to nursery as quickly as possible as she's wearing knickers (as opposed to nappies or pull-ups) for the first time today and I was rather anxious that there wouldn't be an accident before we'd even got inside. So what did I do? Well, I threatened Renée with no croissant if she continued in the same manner. It had no affect, of course and she continued to test my patience. So this was my moment to follow-through.
And I did. And there was no croissant. And Renée was devastated. And she cried. And she said sorry. And she promised to be good. And she cried all the way to school and was still crying when we arrived. And even after a cuddle and an explanation of why I had done it (and a promise of a treat after school - I am who I am, after all), she was still crying. It was truly horrible. In the end I had to leave her at school, red faced and teary. And now I'm home and I feel wretched. I should be pleased of course that I followed-through. But I'm not. I'm sad that she was so sad. So there must be another way. I'm even thinking about picking her up from school with a croissant. Is that wrong? Will it undo all my hard work? Help me out here please.
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