“Today we will be grumpy!” my children all but declared this morning, at breakfast.
Wearily, I picked up the flung raisin, and advised them that big girls don’t argue with their sisters; another lie from “Utter Lies We Tell Our Children” (22nd edition) Random Mouse Publishing. I’m working my way steadily, religiously, through that.
In the past two weeks they have gone from delightful, charming little girls to the wrong sort of Gremlins. I blame myself, of course. What have I done? Why are they being so monstrously naughty? Amn’t I spending enough time with them? Nope, it’s not that. Am I being tetchy? Are they getting it from me?
That is the answer, much as I would like it not to be. Every time I get back from Britain I feel homesick for a good two or three weeks, before settling back into my life here, (a life I usually like well). Enough to make me testy and preoccupied. The girls have picked up on this and are acting accordingly. They don’t know how else to act when their mother is out-of-sorts. They have all the emotional restraint of mere 4-year olds. As they are 4, this is age-appropriate and doesn’t worry me as much as I sometimes worry about their father.
I have learnt that every parental mistake takes roughly three times the amount of time to rectify as it did to make. By my lightening fast mental calculations that gives me about 6-7 weeks of weebairnitis (or “inflammation of the children”).
Regular readers of Problemchildbride will know that I am an enormously effective and excellent parent and that the sparkle on my faucets is second to none. I have therefore, naturally – and without the usual hand – wringing in which a lesser parent might engage – taken the most appropriate action for these circumstances.
The trick is to distract them from their original mood and behaviour in a way that allows them to channel their feelings in a positive way. So I have set them to play with power tools, and a log in the garden. They can express their rage through wood-carving and we get a piece of charming primitive art. Everybody wins!
There have been a few alarming moments as they stagger around under the weight of the chainsaws, but I think now they have an appreciation of how to do “Play Nicely, Or The Consequences Will Be Unspeakable.”
Another job well done, I think. I’m really smashing at this mummy thing, although I say it myself.
UPDATE: A mere half hour after this was tapped, and the Problem Children are now being almost nauseatingly nice to each other! Following an inspiring and instructive speech from me, calling to mind the best of Socratic thought, Hobbesian doom and threats of being arrested by the police, the girls are now cooing gently to each other, things like, “You can have my mud-pie because you are my sister and I like you” and “I’m sorry” and “no I’M sorry.”
I think I liked things better when they were fighting. I’m not sure I haven’t made a terrible mistake somewhere.