So I've really only had one thought lately, and here it is.
Pink is at that very didactic stage where she has to explain everything, very clearly, to everyone who will listen. Her favourite right now (which I love, don't get me wrong) is that we are in a family. She says this many times a day. She points at me, saying you, and me, and Daddy, and Blue, we are all a family! And then she always says AND THE CAT! The cat is in the family!
|old, but one of my favourites|
I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I also have really badly behaved children. Their main vice, I suppose, is that they are three, and they want to be boss. It's not pretty. It's a little embarrassing, when other people see it (and I broke my no-crying-in-the-supermarket-for-a-year streak a few days ago when a nasty old lady told me you need to control your children as Blue shouted I waaaaaaaaaaaant to gooooooooooooooo toooooo a CAFE! over and over again. What cosmopolitan tantrums. How delightful. Not). I do try to manage their behaviour, of course. Nobody wants be the eye of that particular cyclone. But he didn't get his way, and he was the recipient of one of our standard were you trying to be the boss? / yes /are you the boss / no / who is the boss/ mummy and daddy are the boss / is it your job to be in charge / no / what is your job / to be obedient and polite / were you obedient what do you need to say to mummy ... etc, etc etc routines once we got home. Which, for the record, I'm pretty sure I could do in my sleep.
None of that is fun. I am so tired of it. To be honest, often, I would rather let him misbehave and clean up the mess later.
This morning, we were eating our breakfast and I was still plague-weary and the cat was making more of a nuisance of himself than usual and I sort of half-waved a hand in his direction and groaned and then just let him be. And then Pink did something she isn't allowed to and had to apologise straight away and I realised that it must be hard for them, sometimes, seeing the cat get away with all kinds of nonsense while they spend their days in preschooler bootcamp. (They do get a lot of love, honestly. And they rarely have to bathe, so it's not all tough around here).
And I realised why they get - why they need to get - such different sides of me. I can parent my cat to suit my own convenience, but I need to parent my children to produce character. I need to discipline my children now so that they will learn self-discipline for adulthood. I owe it to the world to moderate their behaviour, and I owe it to them to shape their character. They aren't in this family for my benefit, unlike my cat.
And I knew this- of course I knew this, and I've said these kinds of things to myself in a hundred different ways many times before today. But right now I have a particularly vivid picture of how I don't want my children to turn out. I don't want to be letting them slop all over the world's countertops. I will clean up their mess now - I will make excuses for them - I will pretend that they aren't doing anything wrong, but one day they may want to drink metaphorical milk out of the metaphorical world's metaphorical cereal bowl, and dagnabbit I mustn't let them. One day they'll be out on their own without me and they are going to be facing down that bowl full of someone else's milk and they have to be able to choose not to lap at it - and they will have to be equipped to make their own self-disciplined choices because I won't be there to tug on their collars. Metaphorically speaking, of course. My children don't wear collars.
So. Tiring, yes it is. And next time I have the choice of dealing with something or letting it slide, I need to remind myself - get your head back in the game, Claudia. Parent your children now for character later. Don't treat them like a cat.