Monday, 5 March 2012
I'm intrigued by other parents, and how they get through it all. There are as many ways to parent, it seems to me, as there are parents to do it.
I've decided I'm kind of a seat-of-the-pants parent. I read all of the parenting books I could bear while my first child was swimming around the womb. That wasn't an exhaustive list - I don't take well to lecturing and hard and fast rules, so that crossed a whole load of prescriptive parenting books off the list for a start. After the first birth, I occasionally consulted What to Expect in the First Year and Toddler Taming...and that's about it. I have a few others I bought in enthusiastic or terrified moments, but I've never read more than a few pages of any of them.
Of course, I have a plan: to finish with the same number with which I started (two) and for them to grow into happy, confident adults their dad and I are proud of. After that, it's all a bit hazy.
I also have rules, although as I've never written them down, they're a bit ad hoc, made up as we go along. They include: look at people when they speak to you; always say please and thank you; do it now because I said so and we can discuss why later; bedtime is religiously 7.30 unless I decide differently or you choose to debate with me, in which case earlier works just as well for me; no, you do not need to eat everything on your plate, but yes, you will try at least a few forkfuls of everything; treat other people with respect, and in the way in which you would like to be treated. And discipline boils down to 3 straight chances followed by a time out. No imagination required for either of us.
And that's it. I think I'm doing okay, probably as much down to the great raw materials I've got to work with (lovely kids) as to my awesome skills. I rarely get to the actual time out part of time out, because they've usually backed down at one (please), or two (or else). The big one has good manners, a flair for chat, and a stonking vocabulary, and the little one is massively affectionate and outgoing. Their table manners can be a bit grim, and I'm dreadfully lax about homework, but perfection is well out of my reach, and I'm basically too tired to tick all the boxes.
Having said all this, I am not the only parent in this family, so I cannot take credit for all the brilliance, or even all the stupidity. My husband and I agreed a long time ago to do our best to agree on how to parent. We also agreed that when we don't agree, we do our disagreeing elsewhere. United front, always. But hey, why leave it at two parents? We don't. There are seven of us, eleven including grandparents, taking responsibility for these kids. Community parenting rules. But that's a different story...