When my girls were born, amidst the emotion and tears and wonder, I set myself some lofty goals. First and foremost I wanted to not just be a good parent, but the best i could be. To do this, I set myself noble goals: to protect them, nurture them, and teach them… all to perfectly prepare them for the world. It seemed pretty simple: teach them the basics of being a good human being through simple lessons and easy to follow rules. It has not been that simple. So far it’s been less of an education journey and more like a torturous game of Chinese whispers. Apparently what I say isn’t what they hear. For example, when i say “7pm is bedtime” what they hear is “7pm is more of a rough guide. Perhaps this is when you could start getting ready for bed. Or even just thinking about getting ready. Theres at least another hour if you drag it out properly.” It doesn’t matter how well-meaning or philosophically sound my intended lesson is, There’s always a way for it to be taken differently. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Me: Don’t raise your voice when you disagree. Resolve things amicably. Discuss and compromise.
Them : Try to resolve things amicably. If you still don’t get your own way; get very, very loud until you do.
Me: Listen to Daddy. You may not always like what he says but you need to trust him.
Them: Listen to Daddy (the Magistrates’s Court). But if you don’t like it you can take it to Appeal’s Court (Mummy) where you should get your way. If not, there’s always the Supreme Court (Grandma) where you WILL get your way.
Me: Always be honest. The truth might sometimes hurt in the short-term but will strengthen everything around you in the long-term.
Them: Always be honest. Unless you think you’re really getting in trouble. Then fudge, misdirect or downright lie. What is the ‘long-term’ you speak of ?
Me: Manners are important. Always say please and thank you.
Them: People like it when you say please and thank you – you get more stuff , and they’ll usually pick you first. It’s great being first and having more tuff. What does ‘thankful’ mean?.
Me: Winning isn’t everything. It’s ok to try to be first but if you don’t win then that’s ok too.
Them: BUT I WANNA BE FIRST, WHY CAN’T I BE FIRST? (Seriously, these twins argue about whose hair gets done first in the morning!)
Me: I will always acknowledge your jokes with laughter to encourage you
Them: If it’s funny the first time, it’s funny the thousandth time.
Me: Never worry about what other people say
Them: “But you’re someone else. Does that mean I don’t have to listen to you?”
I guess I should be thankful that they’ve learned the truly important lessons: don’t be afraid to try new things, Daddy is the best, be kind to people: try to understand how others feel, superheroes rock and peas are the devil.
They’re ready for the world – but is it ready for them?