Many of my recent posts have been about not knowing what the best course of action is in managing my children’s behaviour.
But say I have decided on a course of action and am pretty happy it is the right thing at that time, even then it is not always so easy to see it through. There are many reasons why I might consider bailing on my plan of action. Here are just a few of those reasons and the resulting effects on my actions:
1) Laziness and selfishness – Two weeks ago, after a particularly explosive weekend of anger and irritability (Ana’s rather than mine) I found myself handing out the rather hefty consequence of a week-long TV and internet ban for my errant 9 year old. Very quickly she – and I – realised that a week is a surprisingly long time when you have no recourse to the calming, soporific influence of the TV. Having made it through the school week without reneging on my ban, we arrived at the weekend and things started to get more challenging. On Saturday afternoon, when Mike and Faith had gone into town, Ana and I were left to mooch around doing our own thing. I sat down to some marking and Ana had homework to do. I was keen to have some background TV to lessen the trauma of an afternoon’s marking, but what about the ban?! Would I:
a) Sacrifice my own TV viewing to stick to the ban: selfless and unlikely.
b) Banish Ana from the living room so that I could watch TV alone: harsh even for me!
c) Make up an implausible story that gets me out of the ban whilst pretending it is still in place: genius – I’m in!
And so, I found myself telling Ana that she was not really watching the TV. I was. She just happened to be in the same room.
2) Being worried about the views of others – Last weekend we met up with friends to go for a peaceful countryside walk.
I have been walking with my children enough times to know in advance that ‘peaceful’ is about as far from the reality of their version of a countryside walk as you can get. As we began trudging up the hill in the mud, you could almost sense the woodland animals running for cover to escape the screeching laughter. We continued in this vein until we reached the top of the hill, by which time Faith – tired and cold – had had enough. After a tussle in a muddy puddle with Ana, she was well and truly finished and began screaming as if she were being stabbed with a hot poker.
Now, I had adopted my usual strategy of walking away and leaving her to it, sure in the knowledge that EVENTUALLY she would give in and catch up with us. However, I hadn’t accounted for the arrival of a group of walkers heading towards Faith, with me far in the distance.
I hesitated momentarily, but my fear that the walkers would a) assume something terrible was wrong with Faith and worry (her screaming did definitely suggest this might be the case!) and/or b) think I was a bad parent for abandoning her; made me turn back and run to rescue her.
3) Being worried about the neighbours – On Thursday, both my children in turn decided to have a catastrophic meltdown involving significant shouting, door banging and rivers of tears. In Faith’s case, this went on…..and on…….and on…….and got progressively louder and louder.
I – quite unusually – remained calm in my attempts to deal with her torrent of emotional outpourings, but when my normally laid-back and very friendly next-door neighbour banged on the wall, even I started to think I might need to change my tactic.
This time though, in the safety of my own home, and confident that no other strategy was going to calm her any quicker, I stuck to my guns and waited it out.
Outcome: HELD MY NERVE! Go me!
Postscript: I bumped into my neighbour at the weekend and apologised for the outburst. He initially feigned a lack of awareness about any specific incident, but as I struggled to recall which day it had been, he quickly came to my aid and reminded me – rather too quickly – that it had been Thursday evening…so possibly slightly more noticeable than he may have suggested. Oh dear.
Maybe next time I need to bail on the home front in order to save my friendly relationship with the neighbours and choose to hold my nerve when around people I actually won’t ever see again (like on that hill!). Either that, or I need to invest in some soundproofing for my kitchen – and quickly!