Monday, 23 March 2009

In which I dispense advice

Cherish this, dear reader, for I will not give you advice again (probably). I have very little wisdom to impart, but I do have this. It comes too late for a lot of us, but trust me, I wish I had known then what I know now.

If you are considering having children with someone, you need to follow my advice, which I will set out below. I am far from convinced it will help, since it is very hard to know the answers to these things in the abstract, and you will probably be all in love, you soppy bastards, and not even care. So you will go ahead and have some babies. And of course, in the early years, the cracks will not show. You will be in turn:

1. In hopeless, Stockholm Syndrome love with a new tiny creature who apparently hates you intensely and wishes you never to sleep again. There are no decisions as such, merely survival. Ethics do not enter the equation; except that it is not ethical to abandon your tiny tormentor in a church porch. This much you know.

Then, later:

2. Dealing in moral absolutes. "No darling, do not hit the cat with a hammer". "Stop biting Joshua". "If you sit on that tiny baby you will kill it". "Let go of Ladybird's hair".

You may even throw caution to the winds and have another child. In which case you will be:

3. Trying to feed one screaming, puce child whilst the other one dismantles the DVD player or posts €50 notes into the waste disposal unit. If you turn your back for a second, one of them will kill the other. This much is certain. It is survival, pure and simple and there is no time for the luxury of debate, or for moral relativism.


Only much, much later, when what you thought was the "hard bit" is over, will you realise I was right and that there are important debates about parenting that you should have bloody well had before you had children. But then it will be too late. Ah, well. At least I will be able to say I told you so, when you come running over here, all "Oh, Jaywalker, my lovely partner has mutated into an authoritarian martinet, and I am all about the lentil knitting and the whale song and the child centredness". And I will be able to laugh with delicious bitterness and pour you a gigantic drink. I love being right.


So, having concluded that I am wasting my time, I will give you this advice anyway. You are so lucky. Watch out, I am going to put the caps lock on now. And bold.


TALK TO YOUR PARTNER ABOUT THEIR CHILDHOOD.


Yes, I hear you. You have done that already, in between bouts of spontaneous sex and laughter and feeding each other snippets of food and the kind of things you see on slow-mo sequences in romantic comedies to a soundtrack of '80s cock rock. You have talked about their first pet, and their first kiss and whether they liked school and all that sort of nonsense. I am not talking about that. Ask them these things.

- What did you think of your upbringing? Too strict, too lax, about right?

- Did your parents smack you? What do you think about smacking? (ensure they understand that this is not an overture to some kind of S&M lite shenanigans, or you will get totally sidetracked)

- Pocket money? Money generally - was there enough of it? Did your parents worry about money, or did they shower you with gifts?

- Christmas - a big deal, or not? Lots of toys and presents? A small car and a lump of coal? Ditto birthdays - lavish song and dance or a fairy cake and a book token?

- Nightime. Were your parents strict about bedtime? Did you get scared in the night and what did they do about it?

- Siblings - where are you in sibling order? Do you feel your parents favoured you, or one of your siblings?

- Shouting - normal mode of discourse, or occasional nuclear option?

- Violence: occasionally necessary or absolutely abhorrent?

Think of yourself as a sort of psychological detective, searching for the seeds of future parenting in their past, because believe me, however deeply buried you believe your own childhood to be, how wholly rational and master of your own destiny you think you are, you will see it lurching out of the dark corners of your psyche as soon as you have your own children. Your partner will be exactly the same. And in some cases, this may lead to the total breakdown of civilisation. Let me give you a very brief and of course, wholly abstract, case study.

X: Raised by her hippie academic mother alone for most of childhood, with occasional lodgers, hangers on, admirers, hamsters. Mother from background of extreme poverty, very concerned not to transmit fear of not having enough money to child. Lovely adult-filled childhood without conflict, boundaries, table manners, authority. Occasional incursions from lavish and slightly terrifying father with shouted instructions on proper use of cutlery.

Y: Child of two French school teachers, married at 19. One of three boys. Traditional childhood with chores, table manners, clean hands, things put away and cared for, Rules, occasional smacking, clear sense of parental authority.

Add to both subjects, if you will, an innate stubborness and belief in the superiority of their own approach. Add two children. Stand back and watch as the fabric of the universe is ripped to pieces over subjects as diverse and fascinating as taking toys to school, how to eat spaghetti or whether to allow night lights. Cower. Children develop interesting schizophrenic personality traits and a gift for subterfuge and manipulation. Super Nanny is called in with a SWAT team to remove children to a place of consistency.

Over to you. What piece of precious advice can you impart? Make it fun if you possibly can, because this whole piece is slightly depressing me and I am beginning to wish I had explained to you how to trap an escaped hamster instead (I can if you want).

51 comments:

Iheartfashion said...

This valuable advice comes a few years too late for me, but I would add to the necessary questions:
What are your feelings on housework? Choose from the following options:
-kitchen should be as sterile as operating theatre at all times and white glove test on the tops of doors is standard procedure
-as long as rotting food is confined to the fridge and there is a dish left to eat off of, things are OK
-total squalor acceptable

Jaywalker said...

Iheart - YES. Also, how long can the fridge door be open before you lose your mind?

1. A nanosecond
2. 3-5 seconds
3. What? The fridge is still open? Sorry.

We should make this into a standard questionnaire for dating websites.

Jane Henry said...

Ah Jaywalker, take comfort from the fact that my other half and I come from very similar family backgrounds, and have similar views on childrearing and still we argue about who does it right... Those little buggers we produce have an innate ability to worm their way into the cracks between us, and if I have learnt one thing about parenting over the nearly thirteen years I've been at it, is this: WHATEVER you think about what your partner has done/said how they've disciplined a child, even if you know they are utterly in the wrong, and you are completely right (which let's face it, you being with them 90% of the time are more likely to be), in front of the child ALWAYS back your partner up. Then when child is safely tucked in bed, pour yourself a large glass of red and prepare to do battle. It's a war of attrition, your only ally in it is your partner, so you have to try (at least in public) to be singing from the same songsheet (blimey I'm mixing my metaphors).

I also think there is definitely a male/female divide here, and it is to do with how much you are with them and how much your partner is. You cannot possibly be disciplining all day long otherwise you and children will be demented before you know it, so when other half comes and says, why is the lounge a mess?/Why are you children so naughty (staring at you the mother as if somehow you are responsible)? etc etc, giving you a subtext all the time that you are pretty rubbish at this parenting business (EVEN IF THEY DON'T MEAN IT), you have to remember that if they had the kids all day every day they'd probably last about five minutes before killing them...

Sorry that was very long, but it struck all sorts of chords. I do think what you are going through is perfectly normal when you have small children in the house, screwing up your perfectly nice normal adult relationship like they do...

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Piece of priceless advice, JW:

'Compromise.' Children need and appreciate some routine, discipline and guidelines... There's also loads of space for the hippy, libertarian parent in that too. I know because I am one...

And none of us is perfect, nor is there the perfect childhood out there, and so long as love, cuddles and food are dispensed, children are survivors. Hope that makes some sense.

nicolelynn said...

Along the same lines as Iheartfashion's post, I would like to advise the following:

While cooking, should you:

a) leave all the cabinet doors and possibly the dishwasher open until you are finished, and even then maybe forget to close them all

or

b) put things away as you move along, with no cabinet doors staying open longer than necessary to take an item out

Also, my husband twitches if the kitchen counter is the least bit messy. The rest of the house can be in utter disarray and as long as the kitchen counter is shiny and free of clutter I'm usually good to go.

He, on the other hand, loves to leave the dishwasher open and then wander away distracted by something shiny, and then I walk in to witness the cats in there licking dishes.

Helena said...

Hello, have finally answered your head hunting question. Sorry.
Your advice comes at a perfect time for me, been together six years, no kids yet, nor in the very near future but certainly biological clocks are ticking.
I am not sure that having your recommended discussion wouldn't result in a child free future and no boyfriend though. Perhaps from where you are standing that doesn't seem such a bad option. Grass is always greener etc.

fabhat said...

Ohh yes the open drawer thing - we have that all the time - I don't, he does. Otherwise generally I am a filthy slattern, and he is a tidy tidy man...

Thanks - have noted the pre-baby advice and will clearly disregard everything and come back and complain (possibly asking for my money back) in 5 years time.

Helena said...

Also, form the housework point of view. We used to be very much one in favour of squalor and one in favour of surgical cleanliness, but we have both changed and now only rarely do we have to huff and shout and go to bed early. It's a slow evolution.

Judy Astley said...

If the children make it to teendom, put big piece of gaffer tape over mouth (yours, not theirs) and keep it in place till they're at least 20. If you can't speak, you avoid being constantly told, "You're, like, soooo wrong."

Wife in Hong Kong said...

Too late, too late for baby advice. But I would closely examine attitudes to: money ie will there be any and how much may I spend while I raise our children 24/7 for diddly-squat, DIY which I know means do it yourself but honestly!, expectations of a marriage, where do you see yourself in 30 years and how are we gonna get there and what would you do if I shag another. Also disabuse yourself, before you commit, of the flawed notion, I'll change him. You won't.

Jen said...

Oh too true! I am more hippie, he is more reserved. It is too late for me but it is interesting how quickly the differences shine. I sit in the middle of the kitchen floor and feed child a banana. I generally let child get into about anything he wants. I pick child up when he toddles over and asks me to. My husband is more of a fan of the gate to keep child in check. Does not think you should always pick child up when needed. Generally thinks child should never be left unattended. Luckily we do agree on several important things like Sleep and Sleep and What to do about Sleep. We both like to Sleep and child also likes to Sleep (for now). And husband has learned to accept the part of me that only wants to feed child fresh organic produce and worries over every. little. thing. I have accepted that husband will sometimes drive me crazy by insisting child wear a hat when going outside when it is 60 degrees. And then saying child gets colds because I don't require such hat. Anyway, my advice to pre-baby couples. Pick your battles wisely. Maybe easier to just put the hat on the child.

Anonymous said...

I just lock my children in a damp cellar without telling my wife. I find that cuts down the arguing pretty nicely.
Herr Fritzl

Persephone said...

Another bit of warning for prospective parents: Keep in mind that, no matter how you felt about school, you will be reliving it through however many kids you manage to produce. This includes homework, schoolyard squabbles, and hierarchies. And that's just the parents. (Depressingly enough, your fellow parents will take on grown-up counterparts of all those horrible school social categories: queen bees, wanna-bes, bullies, jocks, geeks, etc., except they won't be all that grown-up about it.)

I think the anonymous comment from Herr F. is in rather bad taste, but this is not my blog.

katyboo1 said...

Find out if your partner was kept in a cupboard and beaten with sticks as a child. This is important.

Jason had no childhood and was forced to eat brussel sprouts, work 18 hours a day in a strawberry farm and didn't have any family holidays until he was about eighty. He hated it. He was very envious of all the other kids.

Yet he still thinks I spoil the kids, makes a huge fuss about them eating veg and has hysterics when we spend more than ninepence on a family holiday.

I just go about things my own way, go on luxury holidays and have giant festivals of luxury at every possible opportunity and he secretly enjoys it whilst being very grumpy.

It works for us. When we discuss it I say I am giving him the gift of the childhood he never had. Ha!

Ali said...

Do NOT allow husband/partner to dress children unsupervised. This is especially important if you plan to be seen in public with said children.

He will not understand basic colour combination rules. You will find yourself trotting out such favourite sayings as "red and green ahould never be seen". You will be forced to explain that an entire khaki outfit looks like a safari suit and an entire pink outfit looks like a cupcake. He will feel belittled and become contrary and indignant. He will flipflop between solicitously asking your advice on dressing children and rebelliously dressing them in hideous outfits and insisting you all leave the house that way. You will walk a discreet distance apart from them in the hope that people will think they belong to someone else.

expateek said...

Hoo boy. Lotsa material there!

Advice? Marriage counseling, whenever appropriate. Sometimes there's too much to work through, making meaningful communication impossible without someone else helping to work as an interpreter/intermediary. (Makes it more interesting as you'd even have to pick a language to do this in. Gad.)

"Compromise" is great, but oftentimes what's billed as compromise ends up feeling like giving in (for both parties!), if the unexamined issues don't get unearthed and resolved.

I remember some intelligent person once saying that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition (each party giving 50% of the effort). Instead, each person actually has to give 100%, or closer to that. What you end up with then, is a relationship that's in the 150-200% range, which would be a good thing. As stupidly trite and also entirely non-mathematical as that sounds.

But everyone always feels as if they're working at the relationship harder than their partner ... the problem is, you can't "feel" the things THEY feel they're giving up. Very hard to empathise sometimes....

My husband's wound up tighter than an 8 day clock, and you can't even find a wind-up clock these days. Quite irritating to be stuck with such an old model, really. But we've managed. Difficult when the kids were smaller, for sure. In the end you have to ignore some of the things that bug you and choose your battles.

It is also some help to realise that kids can benefit from different parenting styles, and as they get older they will appreciate bits and pieces of both regimes. They can deal with conflicting parenting styles and resultant distress in your shared household... that is still much easier than dealing with two separate households with split-up parents. Or so I believe.

Try to remember why you hooked up in the first place. He's still the same person, and so are you.

I'm with Jane Henry... so perhaps go back and try to recreate some of that "perfectly nice normal adult relationship" that existed once upon a time. Time spent together, sans enfants, could help...

fabhat said...

Helena - you're right about styles melding somewhat - I am tidier, he is more relaxed after 6 years, but I still hate left open drawers, cupboards etc and he hates the way I leave trails of paper in my wake. Clearly he is wrong and I am right, but we've got years ahead of us to argue about that one.

Titian red said...

Who let you into my head ? Now I am very scared and looking over my shoulder a lot >

Nikki said...

Brilliant... I live in fear of my child's adolesence. My husband's parents were very, very lax re. his teenage activities-- he frequently spent whole weekends with his feral friend who lived without parents, and drank heavily the entire time. His parents KNEW ABOUT IT-- this shocks me to no end. I would occasionally sneak out at night for a wild party, the operative word there being SNEAK. I'm afraid we're going to have very different ideas about what is appropriate for our teenage girl.

Cassandra said...

Too depressing, I'm afraid. Can't we do "not as good as I look" instead?

WV: butwitt

Z said...

My husband turned out to have rejected the standards of his childhood. His mother and father were tidy and ordered and very traditional. Much as he loved and respected them, since they died a quarter of a century ago he has become more and more casual. This has dismayed me, as I married him in the belief that I was the messy one. Neither of us can leave as the one behind would have to clear up the debris of decades.

Assuming a couple has been mad enough to have children together, I'd only say one thing as a certainty. If you want to disagree fundamentally about their upbringing, discuss it when the children aren't there. Back each other up when they are. If the children ask why what's allowed changes when daddy's there, say it's because *that* upsets him and it's a matter of respect. Or, conversely that *that latitude* can be allowed once in a while if daddy lets you, but not normally. Similarly, he must support you. Children can understand that the right way and the wrong way to do something aren't absolutes, but they understand even quicker how to play parents off against each other.

screamish said...

yeahyeah yeah but the problem is this type of conversation is only possible in a window of about ten days, depending on the relationship. Any later and things have become too serious, and questions to do with kids and family may lead the man to believe you're after his sperm.

So you've got to get in there quick while you can still smile lightly and toss your hair etc etc etc and "on no account must he see the real you" (Bernard Black)

my ex used to come home and yell if the colours of the objects on the coffee table didnt compliment each other.

6 years later i left him after an argument about a packet of lardons.

Just goes to show.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Big M and I are both quite relaxed. If, against all odds, our offspring turns out to be the pain in our cracks, we'd consider boarding school as an appropriate measure. Some good old fashioned detention camp somewhere in the country.
But what do I know now? The only thing I care about is that she comes out soon and how much longer my supply of Brunette praline spread and sourdough rye bread will last.

the ironed curtain said...

I am lucky in that my husband eventually ended up just going along with whatever I did because it seems to work well. I brought the baby home and put her right in our bed (where she still sleeps every night), I pick her up whenever she asks me too, go right to her when she cries, let her pick food off of the kitchen floor and eat it. We frequently leave the house with her still in her pajamas, draped in multiple costume necklaces without having had her face wiped clean. The husband had a strict childhood and was fully planning on being very regimented and by-the-books with his parenting style but was quickly melted into a puddle of goo by our daughter who apparently thrives in a somewhat hippy-ish environment.

I would discuss flexibility with your partner, as in: how flexible are you when it comes to changing certain mind-sets about parenting…are you willing to challenge your own ideas as you go along, and finally: will you both agree to do what is best for the child.

I found that everything went out the window when I gave birth to my daughter. I often laugh at how ridiculous our expectations were before we became parents.

Red Shoes said...

Wife and I have been together for 9 years now (by the time we have baby... IF we have baby, will be at least 10) and we have talked about this a lot, but I still have a strong feeling that nothing, NOTHING prepares you for what you will do and how you will feel once you are actually a parent. I am terrified of what will come out that we have no idea is there. When it does, I (like fabhat) will want a refund, I'm sure.

screamish said...

!!! how on earth do you have TIME to deal with your blog? look how many comments there are!

sue said...

Wot Iheartfashion, katyboo and several others said. Also ponder the pointing of a rifle at younger son (for not dusting house he was renting from mother) and the disowning of eldest son (at the age of 15, never sure why though) will have an 'impact' on current relationship ie whether it is safe to dump ONLY grandson on said person when jobs/halfterm clash. I favour the emergency leave option myself. Also worthy of consideration is whether developing a baby 'phobia' when said only grandson is a couple of days old and not seeing him til he is almost three may be important to current relationship. Ahh, hindsight.
My own family aren't exactly angels, I grew up in a strict house, I despise shouting and violence/smacking of any description because I was on the receiving end of it on a daily basis. Yep, another hippy at heart, I like a gentle, happy-go-lucky atmosphere, and unlike my mother, I stand up to my husband when he goes postal. Generally, there is no need for it whatsoever.

Jaywalker said...

Isn't ANYONE going to ask me how to catch a semi-feral hamster? Disappointed. All this wisdom insight and noone mildly curious about hamster entrapment.

tragicanon said...

my only advice (as a non parent) would be to abandon all attempts at compromise parenting - abandon all attempts at parenting all together.. turn out two completely feral creatures and make a mint selling their unusual life stories to the tabloid press whilst turfing them out for cash in hand appearances on the jeremy kyle show and the like..
okay so advice isnt my strong suit.. shoot me..

Jessica K said...

Stifle the urge no matter how angry your s.o. is making you and how justifiable your anger is do not say this and everything else you have bottled up for 14 years in front of the kids.
Send them out to play first.

screamish said...

Oh, and how do you catch a semi feral hamster, by the way?

Potty Mummy said...

Here's one. Is the father of your significant other the type of man who thinks leaving the rabbits out in the rain is a crime punishable only by putting the child responsible into the rabbit hutch and turning the hose on them?

If yes, proceed with extreme caution. Your significant other will be as soft as anything on their own children as a result...

justme said...

Ok....how DO you catch a semi feral hamster?? Set the weepette the task perhaps??
As to bringing up children...gah! My ex and I agreed wonderfully on most things while the son was little.....but when he reached his teenage years.....we agreed about NOTHING! My dear, the worst is yet to come......
Sorry about that!

Lisa said...

At this point in my life, I've pretty much decided to let the cats catch the hamster and raise the kids.

I'm over this motherhood thing. ;-D

(Very) Lost in France said...

The one question I wish that I'd asked the CH was 'did your mummy think the sun shone out of your bum(which she did)and think that no-one was every going to be good enough for her little boy (which they aren't)

CH was brought up in a large family where the pub was a second home. I was brought up in a fairly strict Methodist family where drink is the nectar of the devil. He can drink like a fish, I'm teetotal and DS will shortly be suspended from school for 2 days for taking a bottle of gin and apple juice (gag!) on a school trip to Italia. Who's been the biggest influence do you think?

My only bit of advice is that it will NEVER get better. Each difficult childhood stage will be followed by yet another one until they reach their early 40s, or maybe a bit later.

To be a parent is to open a Pandora's box of worry which will follow you to the grave.

That said, I wouldn't give it up for a minute (was that the right answer?) VLiF

Laura Jane said...

Ahhh, the subtext, the unsaid.

its a toughie. We're still negotiating our way through this crap and our offspring are 23 and 20 - and still both at home.

However in the last 3 or so years I have come to realise that I DID NOT have the average happy childhood I thought I did, so nuts to all my notions that I held/rebelled against in my own style of parenting up to that point.

I just knew that my job was to LOVE THEM and SHOW IT. Sometimes showing it meant saying NO, often in a very long-winded way.

Communicating love and guidance is important. Picking your battles is vital.

What WILL matter in 50 years? Drawers? Trails of paper? The perfect 17th black silk dress? I don't think so.

Looking back now I wish someone had said to me 'I love you just the way you are'. And they had showed joy at my presence. At my BEING. That I breathed.

BTW - we don't have hamsters in Australia, and when we had guinea pigs we let them run wild in the garden (insulated waterproof cave for them under a hedge, no snow). It was a pretty low-tech way to manage things, and it involved NO POO CLEANING. Whenever on rare occasions we had to catch the little fuckers there was no way KNOWN we were going to achieve it without a lot of cunning.

I bow to your skills in said matters.

Bath bun said...

Even if you come from vaguely similar upbringings, parenting brings out the worst in your character traits. The only survival tip I have is to keep your sense of humour and talk about it. As for feral hamsters, do tell and give us some tips – we are suffering from feral frogs –if frogs can be described as feral? The cats are bringing in by the dozen. They are large, alarmingly jumpy and scream like babies when hurt. Our solution – set small boys on them who then serete them into the ecole messidor. Better frisk your boys after school in case they are bringing them home to you.

Jaywalker said...

Bath bun - do we actually know each other? Like, um, do you have shoulder length dark hair and glasses and an Irish accent?Just checking.

Everyone else, as you were. Back shortly.

Bath bun said...

No, I don't think so, (although I think I saw your boys in a local toy shop last Friday afternoon) but who knows - I have longish dark hair and wear glasses sometimes but I'm not Irish - I'm from Bath of course!

Jaywalker said...

Hmm. No; I don't think you're the person I'm thinking of. Yes, that was us in Bart sodding Smit on Friday haemorraghing money on Pokécrap. Will be looking out for you at the Gulag de Messidor now though..

Marie said...

Off topic, but Ms Waffle, I dreamt about you last night. You had lots and lots of puppies (or 'chiots', in my dream) (also, to be clear, you didn't have them as in give birth to them, you just owned them) and you had an internet link-up to the puppies so you could watch them whenever you went. Oh, and the CFO was out of town. There: such is the dent you make in my psyche.

Jaywalker said...

I don't think I can cope with responding to all comments individually today, as you are all much more grown up and wise and good at compromise, so I feel guilty and childish. Also, as Cassandra says, it is too depressing. Unless I go for tragicanon or Lisa's suggestions, turning children into sensational wolfkids, maybe with some fake beards for extra authenticity.

No, instead I will tell you how to catch a hamster (that has escaped OUTDOORS, indoors is a matter of ceaseless vigilance and batlike hearing). Dig a small but deep hole and place a flat stone or piece of metal in the bottom. Find a jam jar. Put enticing hamster treats and bedding material in bottom of jam jar. Balance jam jar over hole. Wait. When hammie comes to steal food and bedding, it will tip the jam jar into the hole and, crucially, you will hear the clink noise as the jam jar hits the stone/piece of metal. Rush out and grab jam jar. Wear gloves, as hammie, having tasted freedom, will not be keen to return to his cage.

This is the Bearded One's patented hamster entrapment method. He is not a VIScientist for nothing.

Jaywalker said...

Marie - I am relieved I was not giving birth to the chiots. That would have been properly creepy.

Jane Henry said...

OMG you got back a hamster that had escaped OUTDOORS??? That deserves a huge trophy in the Academy of Brilliant Mummydom. We had a hamster who I liked till the end of his short life when he developed a nasty sore on his neck and took to biting Spouse and I when we tried to administer antibiotics. I then hated him,but still felt guilty that he took about a week to die and I was too scared by then to pick him up and comfort him.

We now have a guinea pig and a rabbit, but they live outside and the children have complete charge. Thank god. Although trying to take the GP for a walk in the garden with her reins, one of the children did nearly lose her in the bushes...

G said...

I love the hamster entrapment method. This is GENIUS. What is it doing hidden away in a comment? Got to be worth a blog post in its own right, if not a whole hamster entrapment themed blog. Yes, with photos! I want to see the look of surprise on that smug hamster's face.

I'm now contemplating buying a hamster just so as to trap it.

Jeannette said...

Too late for me to run the essential questions past a potential father, so offer my own spare advice re parenting: a little good cop/bad cop vis-a-vis the kiddos never hurt anyone. If you think they're starting to play you, just switch roles.... Added benefit: they will forget a brotherly bond that will last a lifetime. They'll thank you later, once a year, on mother's day. Was that at all helpful?

MsPrufrock said...

One of our most insurmountable issues is the presence of rubbish food in small person's diet. My husband's working class British background seems to imply that crisps and chocolate are fine as soon as a child has at least two teeth with which to chew. His father gave my daughter chocolate when she was 6 months old because she was crying and "needed it."

I'm quite laid back dietarily speaking, but jesus - a packet of whotsits when a kid can't even walk? You're surely creating a destiny of fat bastardism. My husband isn't as bad as his junk food-obsessed family, but last night he really thought it was ok to give P a mini packet of Haribo AND a full-size chocolate chip cookie for dessert. Egads.

Mrs Jones said...

I can't offer advice about having children because I don't have any (and can't) but from remembering my own childhood I would say that physical expressions of love, especially hugs, are important. Also actually TELL them that you love them. My parents did neither and I have, consequently, never told them that I loved them - I wouldn't know how, it doesn't feel natural. Also don't belittle their choices - "Archaeology? What d'you wanna do that for?" - even if you think it's stupid because all kids want approval from their parents. It will not improve their self-esteem if they're made to feel foolish and will stay with them forever. My mother did this to me all the time. She even did it when I decided on my 40th birthday to have a go at doing something I'd never done before. I got "Horse riding? What d'you wanna do that for?" but I'm old enough now to say that it's because I want to. Plus I'm used to her saying that, but at 10 years old it's hard to fight your own corner.

Millennium Housewife said...

I'm afraid I have no advice, but Husband trapped a Very Large and Loud Buzzing Bee this morning, I'll swap you for the trapping hamster info.

Completely Alienne said...

For indoor feral hamsters put smelly treat (peanut butter is recommended) in bottom of bucket with a plank or similar leading to rim of bucket. They can get in but not out.

We generally agreed on the kids actually and when werowed did it in private - if the kids appeared we morphed into icy politeness to each other while being overly cheerful to them. They knew, they knew.

Over the years I have gradually lapsed into a zen type approach - you get to the point where shrugging your shoulders and saying 'you've burnt the house down/lost the hamster/shredded your sister's homework ... oh well' was the best response to any situation. It is only the loud and incessant shouting (swearing now) that gets to me and I have now begun to resort to my i-pod to drown it out [cue bitter reproaches 'you are such a shit mother' from the loser].

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