I have had a few years of summer holidays with my kids at home for about nine weeks, this year is my first with a teenager who gets three months. The past years have presented one or two challenges so this year I am bucking up my approach. Oh, how I am looking forward to those long days of closeness and harmony with my four wonderful darlings.
Our time will be filled with extended morning cuddles in bed, followed by happy baking, art and science experiments. That’s in-between our days out visiting the highlights of Wexford and surrounds with our nutritionally balanced picnic. Not too much sugar, only one ice-cream per day. And absolutely not a screen in sight.
Of course my little lambs never bicker or argue as I’ve learnt all the distraction tricks in the Book of Distraction. I’ve also taught them well how to speak nicely to one another, listen to one another’s point of view and to NEVER resort to violence. Most importantly I have explained how necessary it is to treat me with respect and to not complain about the meals I cook, naturally they don’t as I always cook wonderful food. In fact they won’t complain about anything, this year.
Today we are at the tail end of an extended bank holiday weekend. Due to a teacher’s training day we’ve had four days together, a mini training session of togetherness for the marathon of that is ahead. Much to my surprise the home made bread I had baked for breakfast today was met with disapproval and a request for pancakes by one of my children. I am not making pancakes now. The request then escalated into a moan with a frown followed by a whine and loud complaining. I calmly (see, I’m starting well) stated that, apart from not making pancakes right now, I’m also not taking complaints this year but I will open a file in the kitchen and any issues can be put down in writing and put in the file. Later, when I am in the right humour, I will open the file and have a look at the complaints and then decide whether there are any that warrant my attention.
The complainee in this case found a lovely large piece of bright orange card and stuck her message up on the fridge. My next calm statement was that her message needs to down scale in order to fit into the file. I cast about for a suitable vessel and settled upon a vase with a narrow neck. While I did that, a different daughter built this little pink box to hold the complaints. I’m grateful for her optimism, I’m also glad that she helped me see a little humour in the moment.
About an hour later and the surprise ending of the story is that the pancake wanting child, changing tactics and trying to find a kind way of bargaining with me, has just offered to make me a cup of tea. She’s seven and she’s smart. I’m going to teach her how to make pancakes herself later, after she’s had a slice of the bread I made. Lots of lessons to be learnt still ahead for all of us I reckon.