My toughest client
When I first got pregnant I was a smart-arse corporate lawyer used to getting my own way.
What I really needed was someone to tell me the following: ‘You know your worst ever client?
The guy who calls at 2am just to tell you how terrible you are?
The one who suddenly urgently needs an obscure spreadsheet so you move heaven and earth to find the spreadsheet and when you do he gets furious because that isn’t the one he wanted even though that’s the one he asked for?
Now you live with a tiny incontinent version of him.
Sadly nothing you have learned to date is of any use with your new client.
‘A mercilessly worded letter before action will not induce your baby to take its 10pm feed or your toddler to wear socks.
You need to learn new skills and fast – patience – diversion – absurdist comedy – and expect even these to fail – often.
Abandon your current notions of success.
You aren’t successful when your baby sleeps through the night and you haven’t failed if they only eat Mini Cheddars until they turn 10.
Your only performance target here is getting them to 18 alive – sane and not hating you.
There’s no bonus scheme but the job satisfaction isn’t too shabby.
I wish I’d been more nurturing
I wish someone had told me that there was a big difference between indulging my children like a martyred mother and simply giving them plenty of loving attention.
I now think that in my desire to build independent resilient kids I was too hard-headed and not sympathetic enough to their specific needs.
That’s tough for me to swallow now but I’m pretty certain we (my two older children in their 20s and my 15-year-old who is still at home) would all agree.
And then have a group hug.
(ed:..over recent years i have raised my son..and some years ago i came up with ‘the deal’..(and this is the only piece of parenting-advice i would have the temerity/conceit to proffer..aside from the bleeding-obvious of course..as in..never – ever- never hit/physically punish them in any way whatsoever..at any age/in/under any circumstance..mm-kay..?..)
..the concept/execution of ‘the deal’ is simple..but certain foundations must be in place for ‘the deal’ to succeed and prevail.
here’s how it went down:..when my son was about 11 yrs old..he was doing very well at school..getting good school reports..(and that is the foundation that must be in place..)
..i sat him down and put to him ‘the deal’…which was that he/we had a choice of two futures..
..one where we could spend the upcoming years following the patterns of most families..who spend inordinate amounts of time/energy in discussion of the various aspects of homework:..largely as in: ‘have you done your homework yet?’
or..we could do a ‘deal’ whereby he could take care/control of the times he spent doing homework/playing computer-games/whatever..and i would not ask him those ‘homework’ questions..our lives together would not be peppered with disputes/aggravation over such trivial/day-to-day matters..
..the only imperative was that those school reports/results had to continue to be of the current standard.
..as long as that happened we would continue with that no questions regime..
..but were they to slip..we would have to re-visit the whole ‘deal’..
..so we set off down this self-regulating on his part path..and i can report it went well..
..aside from the self-interest/peace benefits for myself..i think such a regime builds self-discipline..and helps develop time/energy-organisation skills in the child.
..’the boy’ is now well and truly ‘raised’..and still studying..and during all those intervening years we never had that aggravation most families have to endure..never once did i say to him: ‘have you done your homework yet?’
so all in all..i would argue ‘the deal’ has much to recommend it..)