OK, my first real challenge! Over breakfast I told the children they were now in charge, of everything, for the day. I wasn’t going to nag; it was up to them to plan our activities, and get us all organised, before and after school.
I was fascinated to see how they each responded to their leadership challenge. The three of them are so different.
One became the very image of me in the mornings, and frankly it wasn’t pretty. Every few minutes she would check the clock, and bellow out the time in increasingly urgent tones. She organised everyone’s clothes. She put toothpaste on all the brushes, and called the others to brush. They ignored her, so she took the brushes to the people. The people continued drawing. She started on the threats. ‘If you do not brush, you will have stinky breath at school.’ No response. ‘If you do not brush then I will not play with you. Ever. Again.’ On they drew. She moved on to brandishing a hairbrush. By 8.30 she was cross, and everyone’s personal presentation left much to be desired. The whole scene is sadly familiar, though to her credit there was rather less aggression than usual.
The second flailed around, befuddled by her freedom. ‘I don’t know what to dooooo, mummy’, she wailed, seemingly stumped as to what came next, after pants and a t shirt. She stomped from room to room, untroubled by her chocolate spread face mask; searching for the cardigan which she had, herself, just put in the tumble dryer. (The real mummy had to step in, at a late stage.)
The third took full advantage of the situation, and by 8.25 had drawn a splendid unicorn, complete with 6 baby unicorns, each one named and carefully labelled after a member of our extended family. I hadn’t heard a peep from her, yet interestingly, she was also dressed, passably clean, breakfasted, and ready to leave on time, her homework in her bag. Our 4 year old has learnt a great deal through the parenting strategy of neglect. I recommend it highly.
After school came a trip to the swimming pool (our third in as many days), followed by a whole chocolate bar each – BEFORE tea. We shopped for their dinner ingredients (chicken nuggets AND fish fingers, pasta and cheese, green beans). I was instructed to prepare it while they watched a LONG film, and dinner was served in the lounge, still watching. Yet all were in bed by 7.30, their wildest ambitions fulfilled, and I am left congratulating myself on a fun day with quality time and minimal stress. And totally loving their innocence – I fear the future may hold greater rebellions than eating a Crunchie before tea!