Sometimes I wander off the point a little. My friends and colleagues are used to this, so you, dear reader, must get used to it also. Today’s post is not about emigrating to Vancouver or the wonders of British Columbia but about parenting (the last time I did this was Eating the Elephant).
We like our children to at least attempt to be helpful. I am a traditional parent who, when I see a pack of squabbling weasels, will find work for them. I give out chores. Yesterday Laurel, eldest weasel, was mooching about in a teenage way, while I was shifting a truckload of top soil into the vegetable garden. “Laurel” I yelled “Can you bring me the seed potatoes which are sprouting on the windowsill?” She did. She took my seed potatoes, carefully sorted into groups by variety, piled them all into one container and brought them to me. “Which ones are the Warba?” I asked “Huh?” she said.
Later I was marking out a circle for a new bed. I asked her to make a string compass – peg, piece of string, hammer peg in ground, lay paving stones in circle marked by end of string. She created her compass from a stretchy piece of fabric, and marked 2 lines on it. One half of the bed was measured to one line, then she got bored and moved to the other side and used the other line. It’s an interesting shape, but it’s not a circle. Huh.
In the evening, I asked her to make some cookies for lunch boxes. “If you want to make triple chocolate ones, swap 2 tablespoons of flour for 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder” I suggested. This evening, after dinner, she was nibbling at one. “These are very solid and bitter,” she complained “must be all the cocoa powder.” “How much did you put in?” I asked. “I swapped the flour for cocoa, like you said.” “What? ALL the flour?” “Duh, yeah. Like you said.” “I said 2 TABLESPOONS!” “Huh.”
Then she went off to practise a bit more slouching. Huh.
Do Not Eat The Elephants
Have I mentioned that I must do a piece about Vancouver parenting? I really will get round to it one day, because I love what we have learned from our Canadian neighbours and friends. For now, I’ll leave you hanging and tell you about a conversation I had last night with my middle muppet (or child, as she likes to be called).
This is the one who suffers from anxiety. She has become so distressed about homework that she adopts tactics like not bringing the books home (if the books aren’t here, homework does not exist). Or not writing the homework in her planner (if it’s not in the planner it does not exist). If we and her teacher gang up and check the planner and the contents of her bag before she leaves school she will hide under the table (if she can’t see the books, the homework does not exist – are you spotting the trend here?) She has also tried the Hiding Under The Table trick at school, much to the distress of her teacher who thought she had run away.
So last night she cannot sleep because of the anxiety of homework and she and I had a chat about tackling your worries one at a time. We discussed how she needs to take each piece of homework and assign a time to do it, so that she is not overwhelmed by all the task at once. “You must learn to eat the elephant one bite at a time” I said. “I don’t want to eat an elephant – that would be yucky.” “How about a chocolate elephant?” “Then I would be sick.” The A-Ha moment! “That’s the whole point. If you ate your elephant one bite per day, you would not be sick.” I am satisfied I have made my point and saved myself years of paying for therapy, until a small voice from the other bed says “It might be a life sized chocolate elephant filled with caramel and I would take a bite and all the caramel would come out and dribble down my throat, and I would take another bite and there would be more caramel….” Ok, I’ve saved one from anxiety issues and introduced another to eating disorders. Who ever said parents can’t win?