I’m getting stricter by the day. I’m almost scaring myself. The naughty corner is now firmly established as is my Supernanny inspired special voice that in theory should only be used occasionally but now seems to have become a default setting.
A friend stayed with me recently, one of my oldest and dearest and herself a mum of two much older boys. This great girl knows what she’s talking about it and as she observed the er..fun being had at my house she couldn’t help but (in the nicest possible way) offer a few words of advice. To break up yet another soggy Sunday morning we all headed off to the local leisure centre to let the triplets and Jake run wild in the soft play area. Ella, Louis and Theo were on pretty good form for once and unusually it was Jakey who needed a bit of tough love. Having started badgering me for a bag of crisps from the moment we walked through the door he was soon sulking in a corner and generally being quite obnoxious. Not being the most consistent of mums my ignore-scowl- shout technique wasn’t getting me very far and considering he’d been the one so keen to go on this little outing I couldn’t help but feel a tad ratty. After several failed attempts at getting him to snap out of it and pleading (yes, pleading) with him to at least wait until ten am before hounding me for deep fried treats I felt once again defeated and fed up with how ineffective my parenting had become. Slumped back in my chair I took a slurp from my now cold cup of frothy coffee and felt my eyes fill with hot, prickly tears. Why was everything so hard?
Super friend Sara turned her chair to face mine, looked me straight in the eye and gave me exactly the kind of pep talk I needed. I took a deep breath, stood up and would have rolled up my sleeves had I been wearing any. I felt like I should have a microphone hidden in my left ear as I marched over to challenge Jake’s behaviour yet again but this time with stage-whispered instructions following on behind me. Getting down on his level (crucial, step one) and looking him straight in the eye (two) I adopted a voice about an octave lower than my standard squeak (most important step of all) and without waffling or being repetitive informed my big boy that his beloved Wii time would be taken away if he didn’t pull himself together. He said nothing as I turned and walked away but I could tell by his startled expression that something was sinking into that busy little head of his.
Sure enough, a minute or so later my Jake was back. Upbeat, chatty and fully engaging with us all. Harmony was restored. It sounds like nothing but that little incident was a bit of a wake up call and reminder that maybe I over complicate this whole parenting malarky. Surely it’s just a simple matter of finding the energy required to stick to my guns and put some firm boundaries in place – an approach I should probably think about trying out in other areas of my complicated life too. Of course, it helps if you’ve got a great mate guiding you through when you’re floundering. Don’t think Supernanny has too much to worry about though – I’m never going to steal her crown. Guess who was happily munching on a big bag of crisps at five past ten?