I am having my own personal Groundhog Day at the moment.
I wrote a poem about our daily life cycle 8 months ago called, A Day in The Life but a lot changes in 8 months of a child’s life and we seem to have moved on to more ‘mature’ repetitions.
They say kids take you to the brink. To the edge of despair only to move to the next phase in their little lives just as your find yourself reaching out to throttle them.
I am at that point.
As babies then toddlers my kids transitioned from one stage to the next without much guidance. Mother Nature knows her stuff. She times it to perfection. Just when you think you can’t handle any more sleepless nights they sleep through and give you that much needed rest.
Progressing from boobs, bibs and bottle feeds to spoon feeding and drinking from cups is a slow messy right of passage but cute and fun. Still cleaning their mess from the table and floor 6 years later is not.
Growing up from a tiny burping and poo-ing machine to a crawler then a walker is a highlight. Not so much at 7 years old when they are screaming and chasing each other round the house trying to bash the hell out of each other.
From being carried in a baby-gro to being pushed in a stroller, through to training wheels on a bike to the first time riding alone is worthy of being filmed and uploaded to Facebook or Youtube. Leaving their new bike outside in the rain with their helmets lying on the grass is worthy of a kick up the ass.
Weaning them off the dummy, removal of the security blanket and successful completion of toilet training culminates in their first wee standing up and a very proud moment between father and son. Listening to their mother screaming at them for the umpteenth time about peeing on the seat is most definitely, not.
Finding them engrossed on their Ipad for school work or using my laptop for maths games is cool. They are true Gen Z kids. Discovering they have just found the “Hot MILF” website on my laptop is, eh, not.
From the security of their playpen, to the sandpit and trampoline we watched their confidence grow as they explored their own boundaries and abilities. Giving them responsibility to go next door and play with the neighbours kids is a trust transition that comes with age. Getting a knock on the door from the father of a girl whose room one of the boys has just sneaked out of at 6am is not.
That hasn’t happened.
I look back and wonder where the first 7 years have gone. Then I look in the mirror and see them in my greying hair and beard. I hear older parents talk about how their children have moved out of home and say “where did the years go?”. While the years have gone quickly I don’t share that same sentiment. Unless I look at old photos I can’t remember the specifics of each month and year but I know that they were full and fun.
Although I am whinging about the monotony of the repetition of this stage of their lives I do love all the stages. More so when I look back at them.
At this age I think the change to the next stage might start with us. Mum and Dad.
At the moment they still have the mindset of a master and servant . And it is this daily battle to teach (and remind) them of manners, respect and etiquette that just seems to go on and on.
We are still expected to grant every request, listen to every complaint with a nod of understanding and a smile. They think they should be allowed to scatter their clothes all over the house, drop food crumbs like Hansel and Gretel. That we should present meals on demand with ice cream and no veg. When looked at with disgust for asking them to clean their room we should apologise and retreat. When asked to buy more footy cards we should be handing them money from our pockets whilst asking them if they have enough. We are expected to prepare and then sleep in their beds with them. To ensure their pillows are sufficiently fluffed with the blankets perfectly laid upon them. When I attempt to discuss their day or find out who their girlfriend is at school I am dismissed from their bedroom. And usually as I walk backwards out the door with my head slightly bowed I am startled as the child in question bellows to me:
“and bring me some water…..”
Unfortunately for them this is not Beverley Hills Nannies and I am no Desperate Housewife and we do not pander to their requests. Hence the Groundhog day situation.
Boys. When will you realise. We will NOT give in to your demands. We do not and will never negotiate with little terrors (ists).
Every morning for the next 10 years you will be required to put on your school uniform. You will need to do this at the same time every day. That will not change. You will need to be clean and your teeth will need to be brushed. A dab of toothpaste on your tongue does not constitute brushed teeth. Lift the toilet seat or wipe up after yourself. Not doing so results in mum going mental, please do it (Dad can’t stand the screaming!) Wash your hands EVERY time – properly. Don’t just touch the tips of your finger to the water. We will NOT serve you ice cream after every meal. Wipe your face with a tissue, not your sleeve. Screaming at us will always get you sent to your room. Tantrums will not be tolerated. Not staying in bed and using lame excuses for getting up will never work. Unless there is blood, and a lot of it at that, DO NOT move from your bedroom. When we say “no” to something, the answer is “NO!”. Pleading and begging is no longer cute. We will not buy you something from every shop we enter. We will not stand for swearing or punching your brother in the head. When I give you time out for 5 minutes and tell you that if you don’t go it will increase by another 5 minutes, it WILL increase by another 5 minutes, and keep increasing each time you argue your case. Tantrums will not decrease the time. Apologies are too late by the time we get to the screaming-at-you stage. We will not give in to your demands. We are stronger than you. We will (most of the time) WIN!
Sometimes I don’t know how to handle the part when they just say “No.”
”Max, go to your room”
“Go to your room”.
“I am your father”
“ Why are you speaking like Darth Vadar again?”
I don’t know what to do at this point apart from wanting to tie him to his bed.
“Zak, You can watch an hour of TV when we get home once your chores are done.”
“Make it 2 hours.”
“Hour and a half.”
“one hour and 30 seconds.”
I spoke to a friend and told him our bedtime dilemma and groundhog routine. He reeled off the same night time examples. It felt like I was talking to myself. The same thing must be happening all over the world.
So how do I deal with these regular reoccurrences? When will the boys stop this apparent psychotic behaviour of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. When will they take us seriously?
I don’t think there is a time limit. Infact I think that it is an unconscious behaviour. I can only speak on boy children but their brains are not processing their current action. Going to the toilet is a necessary inconvenience that they have to do . By the time they reach the toilet they are thinking of the next plaything they can get to when they finish hence the messy seat. Forgetting about washing hands is because they are halfway back to their activity before they are reminded to return. The finger tips touching the water is only because it is quicker than submerging their hands fully, then having to dry. That would take too much time. Picking items of clothing off the floor and cleaning a room is like running a marathon. 5 minutes in child time is like an hour. They rarely think about the consequences. Remember how slow a week used to be when you were at school. How quickly does a week pass now.
The older they get the harder I assume it is going to be. Max is only 6 years away from being a teenager. I am still definitely too young to have a teenage son.
Until someone gives me a solution we just have to keep on doing what we are doing. Trying our best. Teaching them right from wrong. Encourage and reassure.
Alternatively I might just ground them until I am too old to care.