My children are refusing to do what I tell them and are also outwitting me verbally. They are six. What should I do?
Another year, another book decrying "helicopter parenting" and telling us to ignore the children. This year's book, 'Bringing Up Bebe' (or 'French Children Don't Throw Food') by Pamela Druckerman, tells us the French rear their children better and as a result the kids learn to be patient and well-behaved.
You can save some time by reading this tres drole piss-take at The Guardian.
I say baloney!
No kid is well behaved all the time - even in France.
No average-to-good parent either smothers their children or lets them run wild.
My kids don't throw food, even though they cannot speak French. I get compliments daily on how lovely and charming and polite and well-behaved they are (thank you, daycare!).
Yet they are right little buggers at home
I give you two examples, both from yesterday.
The kids and I were sprawled on the floor of the loungeroom playing with the blocks. A asked for a toy that was on the other side of the room. "Off you go," I said. "No, you get it," she replied. "No, you," I said. Etc. There followed a bit of banter as to whose responsibility it was, who had tired legs, who was closer, etc. Then A said casually, "Anyway, you're not working anymore, so you can get it."
I tell you what, as I reached over and retrieved the toy I really let her know who was out of line!
Last night it was very important to me that I sit down and watch the "movie-length special" (a.k.a. "two episodes") of Homeland. This was because: (1) Homeland is currently my favourite TV show of all time; (2) I have had very little adult time in the evenings lately with M not sleeping; and (3) I just wanted to. As the show started at 8:30 that should have been easily possible. I prepped the kids throughout the day by reminding them that bed-time is 8:30 and tonight I'd be watching an adult movie that they absolutely couldn't watch, tomorrow is school and they have to be in bed by 8:30, etc etc etc.
We were all in agreement.
By 8pm, dinner and bath were done and the kids were winding down playing quietly in their rooms. We were on track.
At 8:10 the playing sounded louder and had moved to the one room. I popped my head in, reminded them to play quietly and that bed-time was 8:30. As I left I said "Don't make a mess."
At 8:20 I came to put them to bed and say good-night, and walked into THIS in A's room:
I must add, that the above photo was only ONE portion of the bedroom floor (and I took it this morning after "some" had been cleaned up!). The entire floor was covered with Barbies, Squinkies, Strawberry Shortcakes, My Little Ponies, McDonald's Alvin and the Chipmunks toys, Disney Princesses, notepads, stickers, doll clothes, cars, dollhouse furniture, pencils, bracelets.... and more.
"What's this?!" I moaned. "Girls! I TOLD you not to make a mess!"
M stood next to me, unfazed, and nodded sympathetically. And she said (get this): "Frustrating, isn't it?"
At least that made me laugh, though I was trying not to.
What do you think?
Are your kids well-behaved?
Are you strict at home or relaxed, or do you do a bit of both?