Monday Morning, My Bad.

“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.

8 thoughts on “Monday Morning, My Bad.”

  1. I’m guessing here, but the mistake you might have made was leaving the covers on the business end of the chainsaws. My kids woul never let me get away with a cock-up like that.

  2. I always remind my brood of the commandment, “Honor thy father and mother, that thy days will be long . . .” The converse is also true: Misbehave and die!

    Cheers.

  3. Doc McC, you’re right of course. Competence is something I lack with both children and power-tools. I’ve completely lost the instructions that came with the girls.

    Clare, direct eye contact and vague threats of disinheritance is the way to handle a troublesome 4-year old. You mark my words. I will be most pleased to give you free advice when you have nippers of your own. First off, don’t believe that “babies need to be fed every day nonsense.” You stick with me gal and your wee-uns’ll grow up right proper-like, you’ll see.

    Mom101, sometimes my faucets are sooo sparkly that they go all the way out the other side of sparkly and actually appear not to be gleaming prettily at all.

    fmc, that’s what I keep telling the lady from Social Services. Do they listen? No! It’s” three-years incarceration” this and “no visiting rights” that. Show me a Black’n’Decker power-drill and a pre-school birthday party and I’ll show you some happy children!

    Randall, commandments? Wouldn’t get away with that in Ojai. The most you can do here is “suggest” that your children put away their toys and offer an alternative to Sibling 2’s arm, for Sibling 1 to chew off in a devillishsmall-person frenzy.

  4. Something to keep in mind for future reference…we have found that “escalating disciplinary immulation,” or EDI, can be a very effective response to child misbehavior. The basic concept is quite simple: If the child is grumpy the parent is grumpier…the child has a temper tantrum, the parent throws one more spectacular…the child throws a spoon, the parent tips over the table while roaring like a bear…and so on. Well, let me tell you, at least 75% of the time those little buggers go running right to their rooms, often staying there unseen for several days before being coaxed out to do their chores. Just for kicks…now and again…as they loosen the deadbolts and remove the furniture from in front of their bedroom doors we let out a little growl that sends them diving back under their beds…it’s just so cute.

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