WHEN you have four children, people might assume that you have the solution to all parenting issues. Maybe more so when you parade yourself each week in the pages of a newspaper as someone who writes about parenting issues.
The stark fact is that as a parent, you never really have solution to problems that your kids throw at you.
Children go through phases as they grow. Sometimes difficult, drawn-out ones that drive you to distraction, and often completely different from any sibling who may have arrived on the planet earlier.
You might know a few tricks from experience which help, but ultimately, there’s no magic wand; no fairy godmother. (Although our kids do have someone they call their “Fairy Godmother,” who lives abroad and visits with armfuls of exotic presents, massive hugs and doting attention).
Bonnie is three-years-old. She’s the only girl, and the fourth child.
And at the moment, she’s driving me up the wall. Forget the ‘Terrible Twos’, it should be the ‘terrible twos-and-threes-and-possibly-even-fours.’
Most of the time, she’s funny, bright and adorable to be around.
Sometimes, she can be a naughty little madam.
And it’s true that all the boys had their phases. Tantrums, rudeness, fighting, back-chat and disobedience, yes, been there, seen that.
Bonnie seems to be totally immune to my methods. The boys were usually aware when they’d crossed the line. For Bonnie, half the fun seems to be in jumping over it. For Bonnie, it seems the words “No,” and “Don’t” are heard instead as “Go ahead, of course you can.”
The books will tell you that you shouldn’t use negative words around kids, but that’s no good when they’re balancing on top of a stool on top of a beanbag to try to climb up a bookcase, or have worked out how to remove screw-top lids on everything from sauce bottles to shampoo. When they constantly try to wriggle out of your grasp when crossing roads, or run off in shopping centres, it’s not just exhausting, it’s dangerous.
Perhaps it’s not the kids. Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I’ve just forgotten how nerve-shredding, ear-splitting, panic-inducing, repetitive and knackering having pre-schoolers can be.
One thing I do know, from experience, is that the best thing is to grin and bear it until she grows out of it . . . and/or the next issue comes along to distract everyone.