Dublin, August 2016
I’d like a little word about something. You see, we had this deal – I do the right thing, and you don’t punish me. A very straight-forward agreement. But you don’t seem to be holding up your side of the bargain these days, and I think we need to thrash it out.
Take Tuesday afternoon for example. I got a healthy lunch and some fruit into everyone, then put them all the in the car – we weren’t meeting anyone, so I didn’t rush them or get cross when nobody put shoes on the first six times I asked. See Universe? I was being good.
We drove to Dun Laoghaire to park, and set out to walk to Sandycove Beach. I didn’t hurry them when they stopped to look at railings, flowers, strange giant seashell-shaped objects, benches or blades of grass. I didn’t stop them when they wanted to walk on the rocks instead of the path. We put our rug down on the beach exactly 59 minutes after parking, but the kids were happy so it didn’t matter. I polished my halo.
I spent the next hour hovering between the sea and the sand, watching two kids paddling and the third making sandcastles. I managed not to lose anyone for more than five or ten seconds at a time. I did not look at my phone. Much. I gave them semi-healthy snacks and then a small treat. At that stage my halo was overpowering neighbouring sunbathers with its glow.
Then it was time to leave. Did I just announce we were leaving and expect the kids to be OK with it? Oh no. I was following the rules. I gave ten minutes notice, then five minutes, then a final “OK we’re really going now.” Two children were fine with that. One not so much. He responded by stamping on sandcastles, kicking sand everywhere, then having a huge meltdown on the beach. I carried him crying and shouting and wriggling out of my arms, as I called behind me for the girls to pick up the rug and follow me.
People stared; some shocked at the sudden noise, many – the ones with small kids – sympathetic. We walked like that for a while – like an awkward pairing of some kind of sea animals – a lobster carrying a jellyfish maybe. A very loud, angry jellyfish.
Then came the apologies, swiftly followed by a request for popcorn (it was that kind of apology – the one that’s geared solely towards winning back a denied treat.) When I said no to the popcorn, the wailing started again, and so we continued on our not-so-merry way back to Dun Laoghaire. The faraway car now a big regret.
Anyway, Universe, we got there in the end, no thanks to you. And honestly, I wouldn’t even be writing this if it was a first offence, but you’ve got form.
I took them all to Marley Park last week to run around in the sun, and they lost interest after five minutes. I took them to Killiney Hill and the small boy got lost. I took them to Cabinteely House, and he complained the entire time. I took them to Airfield, and they all complained that it rained.
Now, if I just sat at home and put cartoons on for eight hours straight, and fed them chocolate for lunch, I can see how I might be rewarded with cranky kids and tantrums. That’s a deal I understand. But I’m getting them out in the air, running around, seeing new things, getting exercise – isn’t this the bit where I get good-humoured, tired-but-happy kids in return? Perhaps I have misunderstood how this works. Or perhaps it’s time to give up the eternally optimistic outings – cartoons and chocolate might be worth a try after all. Even if they’re just for me.
A tired and emotional parent who’s wondering where it all went wrong.
I’m so thrilled to be shortlisted for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 in the best parenting blog category, and this is where I need some help – there is one week of voting open for this in order to try to get through to the next round, so if you have a minute, I’d love your vote?
You can vote very easily via Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, or by registering once you click here or on the image below . Voting closes at midnight on Tuesday August 23rd. Thanks in advance!
On another note, this is something I wrote for HerFamily about all the things we give up as parents – The sacrifices we make as parents and why they’re totally worth It. Even the lie-ins…