Children like things to stay the same. The familiar is comforting. For example, when I had my hair cut recently (after leaving it for as long as possible, till I could no longer look in the mirror without going, ‘Oh god, my hair…’), the children both looked at me, and stated matter-of-factly, ‘I liked you better before Mummy.’ Luckily, I don’t rely on them for my feelings of self-worth.
Example two: we had a highly successful holiday in Lanzarote over the Easter holiday – indeed our first hot week abroad since we had our son, 8 years ago. We hired a simple little villa and pool, situated in a bog-standard but perfectly adequate little development and it worked well. However, next time, I would like to try something similar, but a little different. Not so the children. ‘We want to go back to the SAME place, with the same pool and the same beach and go to the same restaurant.’
Example three: My daughter had her first Beavers session last night. She absolutely, adamantly, did NOT want to go. She has been coming to Beavers for two years to drop off her older brother, and, in her strong little mind, it was something that boys did. However, in my strong larger mind, it was something that would be very good for her. She’s not great at joining in group activities and I felt that this would be a ready-made way of being part of a team.
Having had a series of cross, panicky crying sessions in the week leading up to her first Beavers, it then took the full gamut of bribes/threats (fruit polos/’no telly!’/extra wii sessions/’5, 4, 3, 2, ONE!’ etc) to get her into the car, and then the same again to get her out the other end.
Once inside the hall, she immediately ran out again, into the path of oncoming traffic. Retrieved and admonished, she clung onto my leg, wailing, and refusing to speak to the kindly Beaver pack lady, oddly named after a Jungle book character.
The first game of ‘Traffic Lights’ appealed to her competitive streak and she perked up a little, but only joined in if I was holding her hand, so I then spent the next ten minutes being dragged by the finger round a hall with 25 or so small children.
Bit by bit I managed to extract myself, till at the end, sitting in the ring next to the pack leader, she was presented with the pack mascot, Bertie the Beaver, to take home for the week.
She came over to me beaming. ‘Mummy, I LIKE Beavers’ she said, ‘Are you proud of me?’ I resisted the impulse to smugly say, ‘See, Mummy really does know best’ and told her, that, yes, I was really, really proud of her for joining in – eventually.
But, the truth is, sometimes Mummy really does know best.