Before I had children I kind of thought that essentially I knew what to expect in terms of how they would interact with me. Drawing on my own past experience of being a child. And I made that mistake of assuming that my experience was the normal experience, that my children would behave much as I did, and it would all be lovely. I hindsight, I don’t know why I had this expectation. It is not like I was ever unaware that I was an odd child, different to most of the others. But maybe it’s because you are a different person when you are at home than you are elsewhere. While it was clear that I was strange compared to the other kids at school, there was not really anything to indicate that at home, everyone else was not just as agreeable and unobtrusive as I was.
My children disagree with me all the time. They tell me so. They tell me exactly what they think of my choices, decisions and opinions and do not hold back in making me understand how very wrong I am. They ask the same question over and over and over in the hope that I might give a different answer this time. If I didn’t like what my mum said regarding any particular topic I would have probably just pouted and went to sulk with my face in a book. Or three.
I wasn’t a perfect child but I never had to be nagged about doing my homework or brushing my teeth. I do recall some discussion about my tooth brushing technique which involved little pink tablets that highlighted all the bits you hadn’t done properly. Other than a few isolated things I was never really naughty. I think the main problem was that my bedroom wasn’t as tidy as my mum would have liked. And I got told to tidy it up and that I wasn’t allowed to read until it was done. So I did it. Sometimes it did take me a while (because I got distracted by stuff as I was tidying it up.) My children.. bitch and moan and whine like you have asked them to remove a limb. And then bitch and moan and whine some more when whatever consequence they were warned about comes to pass.
If I was told to do something then generally I would do it. Not always cheerily and efficiently, but I did do it. We have to ask, tell, order and threaten time and time again when we want someone to do something. I pretty much did as I was told and asked because I did not want to make people annoyed, angry or upset. The same desire to avoid causing conflict seems to be quite absent in my children.
I started this while I was waiting to pick them up from school. Now I am sitting ‘watching’ while they play in the pool. That’s not different. I liked to go in the pool after school too.
The other day Stephanie asked me if I could buy some fish fingers.
“Yes, I suppose I could,” I told her. “But you will have to wait until the custard is all gone.”
“Ugh! That’s not fair!”