I think children have an innate sense of when your emotional reserves are down.
It’s possible that PMT and/or elevated stress actually emit a high pitched sound like a dog whistle that only short people with sticky fluff between their fingers can hear and it’s like a red rag to a bull.
“Now, now NOW!!!” that sound screams at them because they know if they push you hard enough in that moment they may see some form of fireworks or brain explosion.
Your job as a mum is to do your best to not let them die before adulthood by feeding them and nurturing them appropriately. Their job is to exquisitely push your buttons to ascertain what the societal limits of behaviour are. Usually, they get the picture when they go too far.
There is this fantasy I have where one morning I get up and the kids pick out and pop on their clothes with glee. They are thrilled with the contents of their wardrobes and grateful for the clothing I lovingly provide (or receive in mystery bags from girlfriends who drop hand-me-downs onto my porch but still…)
Then they would slide their cheesy little toes into socks and slip on their shoes and ask me to admire their handiwork. Which, of course, I’d be all blasé about because they do it every day and I’m all like whatever.
They would then clean their teeth by actually putting the toothpaste on the actual toothbrush and putting in on their actual teeth. Hell, one of them would even casually flush the toilet that’s been gently steeping since someone dumped a turd they forgot to flush sometime in the past 12 hours.
To some, this fantasy may pale in comparison to, say, Joe Mangianello driving past my house wearing only faded jeans when his car breaks down out the front and he has to come in to borrow my toolbox (TOTAL EUPHEMISM).
Getting kids dressed, shod and teeth cleaned would have to be the most painful part of parenting (that and Book Week), I’m sure you will agree. So I doubt there will be much judgement when I admit to having a most spectacular meltdown the other day after in the face of THE SHOE THING.
I asked once, twice, ten times for them to put on their shoes while they wrestled in a whirlwind of colour and slobber like the Tassie Devil…and then I yelled proper blue murder, before bursting into tears and completely losing my shit. I actually gave myself a time out.
I threw myself on the bed like a 15-year-old and howled with the frustration of doing THE SHOE THING every day before I remembered that my PMT was off the Richter and perhaps it was my hormones making me
enormously slightly reactive.
D Man skulked in after about 10 minutes and asked for a banana. I asked for hug, and I apologised for wigging out but I also said that being the grown-up all the time was really boring when no one listens to me.
He bit me on the nose which I took to mean he won’t need too much therapy and then we went into the lounge where I repeated the same apology/speech to his sister.
I am no parenting expert, and I will say they both had their shoes on after said Exorcist enactment, but I don’t reckon that was a particularly sweet parenting moment. I felt pretty shit, actually. I felt like a shit mum for not being the grown up all in control and stuff, but then I thought how important it is that they know now that I am just a human doing my best with the limited parenting tools/time/patience/wine I have.
I gave it all some serious thought and have come up with a new idea to try and as of yesterday, my children wake up every day with not one single screen privilege. Nada. No enchilada.
If they want to earn screen time they need to fulfil my fantasy (not the Joe Mangianello one) albeit more noisily and with less gratitude, and then they have earned half an hour. One iota of dickery and they lose 10 minutes.
Day one worked a treat. They were dressed and sparkly ready and I didn’t cry a single drop except for the fact that Joe’s car seems more road worthy than I hoped. Let’s see if it can last until next month when the hormonal dog whistle blows again.