Confession: If any of you saw or indeed more likely heard a short blonde woman leaving school with an out of control, screaming, curly haired preschooler this afternoon, yes it was me - I apologise for the noise! I wasn't smiling, but I was holding my head high just getting on with the business of picking up my other daughter from school, trying not to make a scene (Lucy was taking care of that on her own) and instead heading out with as much grace as one possibly can whilst juggling school bags and an increasingly heavy sobbing child, just attempting to get through the gates and across the road. I had no reason to pander to her emotions and no cause for hanging my head in shame - I wasn't the parent this time whose child had fallen off a bench and hurt herself while my back was turned. You know you've been there.
Today has been a classic day of I hate to say I told you so ... But I actually did tell you so! I know this is a phrase that is frowned upon amongst parenting experts and I use it very rarely, but it goes along with everything we are trying to work on with the girls this month. We have always talked a lot about values, behaviour and how to treat others and we use storybooks, kids movies and everyday events as points of reference and discussion. The wonderful Kindergarten that both our girls have attended has done a fantastic job at highlighting some very crucial values and Lucy has been learning the sign language signs for them, which she's been teaching us at home. So to expand on these (and after a slightly embarrassing behavioural incident with our number 1 daughter that clearly proved we'd missed a step somewhere) we decided that we would start discussing one value a month in ways they would understand, talking about what they meant, finding activities to practice these and examples of people demonstrating said value or behaviour in books or movies that are relevant to them. (Incidentally, this will be a monthly feature that I will expand upon at the end of each month to pass on anything we've learned!)
August is RESPECT month in the Potter household... Arabella came up with the idea of writing the word in capital letters on a sheet of paper on the fridge and every time they think of another thing that is a way of showing respect (or of something not to do), she writes it on. It has been slowly evolving and the list is growing. Not that we've had overnight success or anything but I feel that practice and perseverance will pay off!
So this morning on the way to school we were talking about listening. Arabella said: "This is actually very confusing Mummy, I don't know why I listen to my teacher when she asks me to do something but I don't listen to you and Daddy at home." You think? She followed up with: "Maybe it's because I'm just always so busy doing stuff at home? I'll think about it for a while." I was slightly stumped at the way her analytical brain had suddenly kicked in and all I could say was: "Yes that's an exceptionally good idea, why don't you think about it for a while..." Then we arrived at school.
Next stop was Kindergarten where Lucy's discussion would begin... Now we've always had a rule that yes they can take a teddy in the car, but teddies need to stay in the car. We know from experience that these get lost, misplaced, forgotten or simply temporarily abandoned as Lucy's first favourite Lamby did - she spent a very cosy evening having a sleepover at our local department store until we staged a rescue mission the following morning to recover the mischievous sheep! This was after a fairly torturous bedtime routine and a very miserable night that unfortunately some new friends had to witness. She has also more recently lost her all time favourite bear, Fudge - many, many, many sad bedtimes! Anyway, just another parenting lesson you pick up along the way. Back to the story at hand...
This morning Lucy was in a debating mood and decided to push her luck - anyone who knows Lucy (apart from those that perhaps saw her for the first time this afternoon) will attest to the fact that she is a very happy & delightful little thing and like Puss in Boots from Shrek, she can turn on the big eyes and sweet smile better than anyone. So it didn't take long for me to give in to her proposition that she be allowed to carry her teddy "Jellybean" into Kindy and I'd then be able to bring him back out to the car with me. I know I know, I should have known better but I'm a particular sucker for her charms and cuddly ways. Off we went and when it was time to say goodbye, I told her to give Jellybean to me so that he could be safe in the car till I met her at school later. I reminded her that her carer would be picking her up, she'd be at her house for a couple of hours, in her car and then coming to school, so there were numerous points along the way at which Jellybean could go astray. She was having none of it and even a friendly discussion with one of her teachers about teddy being better off with me wouldn't persuade her. In an effort to prove her reliability she came up with the suggestion of putting him straight in her bag and not taking him out all day. I knew it would probably go wrong but sometimes you just have to let them learn their own lessons...
Needless to say, it dawned on Lucy that she'd left Jellybean behind just at the minute the bell rang and I don't know whether she was more upset by the fact that he was missing or the fact that indeed, sometimes, Mummy does know best! Perhaps amongst all the sobbing she was quietly thinking "Thank you Mummy for letting me learn my own lovely lesson!"
I reassured any concerned fellow parents that she was fine, that she was just having a bit of a learning experience and that it would all blow over. It wasn't the end of the world but I guarantee there won't be any arguments tomorrow about leaving her chosen teddy in the car. And perhaps, just perhaps the whole listening to parents thing might have sunk in a little bit... When we got home the first thing she did was ask Arabella to write on the chart "Respect our toys and things and don't lose them." Job done I'd say!
Have you been the mum at the school gates or supermarket checkout with the screaming child? I salute you for remaining calm and want to assure you that it indeed does happen to everybody at some point.
Love Holly x