I’ve been plotting a post about the start of a New Year, and the inspiration it seems to provoke to make pledges and promises to ourselves – but life keeps getting in the way of it. I’ve been preoccupied with trying to get back to work, acutely aware of the need to fill January with juicy commissions, and with preparing the boys for going back to school. All of which seems to leave little time for blogging or finishing the many emails I seem to have started writing to friends, only to leave abandoned when tiredness finally forces me to bed. As I write this, the iron is hissing at me from the corner of the kitchen and I’m wondering why I always start one task before finishing another…
Today what’s uppermost in my mind is tone of voice, and how the majority of my interactions with my sons seem to be confrontational, verging on hostile. It’s not what I want for us, and I know it’s hardly an effective parenting strategy, but it seems to be just what happens when every single request I make is met with an objection, a complaint, or what the protestor deems is a much better idea that whatever I happen to have proposed.
How do you manage an almost constant battle of wills with good humour? How do you raise compliant children without brow-beating them into obedience?
We watched Hugo at the cinema this week, and this evening the boys watched some of a Harry Potter film. Both films left me squirming in my seat with discomfort because the characters I most identified with are the ones my boys would call the baddies – the mean-spirited, bad-tempered ogres who seem to dislike children just for being children. I wonder what goes through my lads’ heads when they watch those films – do the recognise patterns of behaviour between the baddies and their mother, God forbid?
When every tiny detail of your day feels like a highly-pressured negotiation, and your kids just persistently press buttons and point-blank refuse to do the things you ask them to, how do you keep your tone of voice playful and your expression warm?
I’ve been explaining away these difficult days by saying that the boys are just bored at home – endless rain has not helped – and that they’re ready to get back to the school routine. But I can’t help feeling a smidge of sadness as I say that – I want them to have had such a wonderful Christmas holiday that they beg to stay at home.
Am I deluded? Is everyone else just counting down the hours till the school run?