A week ago I banned myself from rushing, stressing or shouting at the children ever again; I was forbidden, by some outside force, from charging around like a nut using threats, argy bargy, or any other effective tools for producing children with long lists of qualifications and perfect manners, or at least the occasional appearance at school with shoe-laces done up. It was a liberation! A happy, calm and harmonious vibe enveloped the familial abode and I acquired a gentle bouncing gait and a permanent half-smile. There was a place in the back of my mind that went into spasm if I thought about getting anything done this year, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. It must be possible to have a full life and still stop for a chat; everyone else seemed to manage it.
For once, I didn’t start the plates spinning the minute I rose in the morning: ‘Bonnie’s got to do this, Alfie that, me that, that, that, and that, and that, that and that, Josie wants seventeen A* GCSEs or she’ll slit her throat…’ In fact on day two I awoke feeling playful, and after saying ‘Good Morning’ to sleeping Alan I spontaneously licked him all over his face, pretending to be the dog!! What was going on? Was our relationship to be refreshed, to boot?! Oh my.
No rushing, no stressing and no shouting meant taking all paths of least resistance: music practice was out ‘My knee hurts – I can’t play the violin’ ‘Uh..OK’; getting to school on time became a distant memory: ‘Please go to school now’ ‘When I’ve finished my nail varnish’ ‘Uh...please hurry’. Extra curricular activities were quitted ‘Don’t forget your flute!’ ‘I’m giving up orchestra and jazz band’ ‘Oh, that’s a shame...’, and since I was no longer in a rush, I was available – always! ‘Mummy, come here and look at this picture,’ ‘Uh...I’m doing the packed lunches, finding Alfies’s shoes, and on the phone, but I’ll come straight away....’ ‘Thank you, Mummy!’
Not that I wasn’t tested: I was called home from a dinner party ‘because the dog was being sick’, but the screams down the phone hinted at the truth - imminent GBH. Did I shout when I got home? Oh no no! I cocked a sympathetic ear, listened to both sides with a caring expression on my face, waited for the sobs to subside. I took one off to bed ‘Come darling, I think you need a cuddle’ (it was beautiful). ‘You lie down and take it easy’ I whispered to the other. ‘Watch some TV – you’ve had a horrible night, darling’. Then I cleared up the dog sick, congratulated myself for being so ace and churned some ice-cream I’d have churned in the daylight hours if I hadn’t been busy being amazingly un-shouty.
And when Bonnie squirted water repeatedly in my face because I said no to a bag of sweets at 9.05am, still shouty mum layed low! I took that darned squirt on the chin (in the eye anyway), blinking with as much dignity as I could muster, and said in deep and powerful tones ‘You are humiliating me, but you will not have the sweets’.
But last night I blew it – at least it was over something really important. Maddy had insisted on going out to get super noodles at 8.30pm, after some heated ‘discussion’ about two packets of crisps and a Feast lolly being enough junk for one day. Ignoring my good sense, off she went (SLAM). What was I to do – hang onto her ankles? When I found an empty crisp packet in the bag with the super noodles, I think you’ll agree, it was time to bring out the big guns. There were hands over ears and hollering on both sides. ‘I will not have lying and trickery!’ I shouted (though obviously the reverse was true). Some things – like super noodles – are worth shouting about.