Tilly was recently 6, this is a big milestone since now she has declared that I cannot decide her ‘way of life’ any longer. I found this out thus:
“Tilly time to get in the bath please.”
“Mummy you can’t tell me what to do, you can’t decide my way of life.”
Right. Here we go.
“So what way of life would you like to live?”
“Well. I’d like to live my own way of life and you can’t tell me what to do.”
“Yep. I get that. But does your way of life include keeping clean?”
“I haven’t decided.”
She eventually decided that being clean and not smelly was probably a good way to live one’s life and I claimed a small victory. Not that parenting is about victories, but I guess it sort of is sometimes.
We had just spent a wonderful weekend away with lots of old friends and all their kids. 25 of us in a big house in Wales. It was perfect. Kids running around doing what kids do (I didn’t really ask, but they seemed safe enough apart from Tilly falling in the pond, which is inevitable really), adults drinking, eating, chatting, laughing. Beautiful weather, beautiful company.
There were some smaller children than mine there and it occurred to me that once you get through one phase the next one is just waiting for you. When they are very little it’s sleep and feeding that takes up every waking minute. Then it’s behaviour and tantrums and learning to communicate. Now it’s negotiation, finding a way to be firm but fair. That old chestnut that you never thought you’d use but you do. I can’t say I sound like my mother because in all honesty I don’t remember her being very firm with me. I was clearly an angel child.
I’m not sure what way of life I live. A busy one probably, a happy one hopefully, a chaotic one definitely.
I had a conversation with a friend at the weekend about how well mannered all the children were. He said it was most probably because we all share similar values and are bringing our children up in similar ways. I liked that. Hopefully our values are what will rub off, not the negotiations over getting ready for school or getting in the bath or numerous other little things that create the monotony.
My girls are far from perfect and their behaviour leaves a lot to be desired much of the time, but I respect their right to live their own way of life. It may not always be what I would have done, in some ways I hope it isn’t. But I care about their values and I care that they have the spirit to make their own decisions.
As long as they keep clean of course.