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5 things about parenting, 12.12.2016

1. Parenting is a weird job – probably because, as I recall reading somewhere, it’s not a job, it’s a relationship. It’s a whole lot more work than most other relationships though. And with all that work, it’s hard not to think in terms of success or failure. But thinking that way is a recipe for frustration, because most of the time, you have so little control over any particular outcome. All you can do is throw things at the wall and see what sticks. (Preferably not the actual kids. Don’t throw your kids.)

2. We’ve had 12 good days now so I’m calling it: potty training is done. I have NO IDEA whether anything we did worked or made it harder. Having been battling for four solid months, I started a real blitzkrieg effort involving confiscating all his cars (Pumuckl is properly obsessed with cars), and while that didn’t seem to be traumatic, it also didn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever. After eight days of zero progress I had a little internal meltdown, bought a new pack of nappies (I’d been refusing to buy nappies on general principle, but he’s actually outgrown his cloth ones) and decided that at his next accident I’d return all the cars and tell him it’s okay if he’s just not ready. Even though it really wasn’t okay. I was going to make myself be okay with it. That was 12 days ago. He’s done. I have a whole new level of respect and understanding for parents of preschoolers in nappies, so if this was a “success” on any level, I guess it’s a success in educating mommy.

3. There are good days and bad, but it seems like the fratricide phase is over (for now). Sometimes there is still screaming. Much less rage though, and I’m also seeing a lot of cuddles between them, once again. It’s an enormous relief. It almost certainly also has nothing to do with anything I’ve done – but I’m treasuring the few things I said to Elfling that seemed to sink in, usually to my great surprise. (Who knew a 7yo would respond so strongly to the suggestion that she should practise leadership?!)

4. This leaves 2am cuddles as my biggest parenting problem. Which is quite the high-class problem, and presumably entirely down to my own lack of discipline. I snuggle the boy at bedtime every night, and while he doesn’t always fall asleep with me lying beside him, he does more often than not. When he comes to me at 2am, or 6am (before the “sun” is out), of course I should chase him straight back to bed. But I can’t resist letting him climb in for a little snuggle. So of course I’m losing sleep almost every night. But really. When you luck into the snuggliest little boy in the world… you’d be a fool not to enjoy him.

5. The next big challenge I guess, and one that will have to be addressed over years, will be passing on some understanding of the excess problem. Of how it’s a mistake to buy everything you want, because you’ll always want more, and acquiring too much spoils your enjoyment of what you have. Of sensible use of money. Elf has just made her first big purchase decision – she used two years’ worth of savings to buy a Playmobil castle, with masses of extra figurines etc, from Ricardo (Swiss auction site). We made her wait about two months to decide on what to buy, and that was worthwhile. I was feeling pretty pleased with this “success”. And then she saw in the instructions that you can buy expansion sets to add extra rooms to the castle. Now. One room costs a quarter of what she spent on the whole set. She has the savings, but I won’t let her use it for this. I explained that it won’t change the way she can play with this castle; that it would be better to spend her money on (or save it for) something quite different, something to use when she isn’t in the mood for Playmobil at all. I explained that I want her to appreciate how much the money is really worth, so if she wants this, she has to save for it from scratch – it will take her nine months. She finally seemed to get it. And then 12 hours later she was begging all over again. It’s not going to be an easy battle. 

I’ll leave you with a pair of handstands, which have absolutely nothing to do with parenting success or otherwise. They are just delightful. 

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