Beware the cry: ‘Let’s do something nice for Mummy.’

Children, like the rest of us, are generally well-intentioned. They set out on grand schemes to do something nice…and that something nice is often for Mummy (naturally).

So far, so good, you may say.

But, like the rest of us, the good intentions of children do not always pan out quite as expected and I was reminded of this fact one afternoon recently as my daughter vehemently berated me for failing to provide her with the right kind of card to make a birthday card. The irony of the situation – that it was MY birthday card she wanted to make – apparently escaped her as she stormed off in a huff when my card provision failed her yet again.

Of course this is not the first time I have been struck by the irony of my children being at their most objectionable, demanding and generally irritating when they are ostensibly trying to do something nice. In fact, the more noble their plans, the more likely the chance the whole scheme will crash and burn in a flame of disappointment and a flood of tears (possibly mine).

Take the first morning of half-term as exhibit (a) when I awoke to be told that it was ‘Mummy’s special day’ and therefore, the rest of the household would apparently ensure that jobs were done and I would have a happy and restful time. As I lay back in my warm bed bewildered and slightly surprised, it was hastily pointed out that this new event would be part of a rolling programme where each member of the household would take it in turns to have a ‘special day’ and that therefore, after I had enjoyed my day, I would need to be prepared to make a bit of extra effort to ensure the special days of the remaining three members of the family were also perfect.

To be honest, they lost me at this point. I was all for Mummy’s special day, but reasonably sure it wasn’t worth the extra demands that it would place on me in the ensuing days. Better to cut my losses and go back to normal I figured..…
….except I wasn’t in charge on this one. Ana was. And Ana favours a military style of management. Faith, conversely, does not respond well to military orders (or actually any orders really) and so I did not have high expectations of the possible success of this mission.

I lay in bed and listened as Ana laid out the plans: they would make breakfast and then tidy their rooms without complaining. ‘Brilliant’, I thought. ‘Maybe we can make it to lunchtime with this actually working out.’ But my foolish optimism was, once again, misplaced and approximately 10 minutes in, Faith was not playing ball. She had refused to follow Ana’s directions and had incurred her wrath – twice. Ana, in turn, was now hysterical, wailing that she (by being angry and shouting at Faith) had ‘ruined Mummy’s special day’. Her anguished self-reproach, reminiscent of Dobby the house-elf in Harry Potter, proved the game changer of the morning and as if by magic, my role in the whole sorry fiasco switched from ‘enjoy the day’ to ‘reassure Ana repeatedly that she hadn’t ruined my special day.’

And, just like that, we were back to reality.

Special days…..pah!….never liked them much anyway.

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