Drawing the line -and I'm not talking arty fun.
It was a challenging morning with X displaying to the entire congregation that I have no authority over her whatsoever. I took her out of the service twice to give her talking to but it didn't modify her behaviour and she wrestled with me at the altar. It was all rather undignified. I got so angry that I told X she wouldn't be allowed to go to a party later. This was stupid as I was pleased she had been invited. I didn't know whether to follow through with the punishment or not. It was a mess.
I tend to shirk taking authority but I also don't want my child to be disrespectful. I find the balance hard. This is also confused by the fact that X is highly opinionated and disrespectful with me but is so unconfident at school and in new situations that she rarely speaks and I am constantly told she needs more confidence. Maybe her teachers would feet differently had they seen the way X demanded my communion wafer at the altar and created a riot when I wouldn't give it to her.
My issue was voiced the other day by her friend K's father who said, in his soft Trinidadian accent: "I want him to understand the boundaries but I don't want to stunt his spirit." However, screaming at the altar was the boundary for me. I had to draw a line.
I spoke to my mother and sister about my behaviour- and X's. I moaned to my mother that it is harder as a single parent as she feels she has a more equal relationship with me than other children as she gets involved in choosing more with me: what tv we watch, eat, and the like. "Yes, well, lets just say we all got a bit worried when you insisted she have an opinion over which new car you bought and she was only two," said my mother in a soft yet important way that indicated this had been discussed quite a bit. But then my mother has only to whisper and all her children sit up straight, even though we are all now over fifty.
I talked to my sister. Our conversation was naturally informed by our own upbringing: "I totally know why you don't want to be authoritarian," she said, "but every time I've held back from taking control with my children it has come back and bitten me in the bottom later."
Hmmm, talking of biting, I had an email from the Ex this week reminding me of Big Biting Incident in which X bit the-soon-to be--Ex in church which led to him acting like a modern-day version of Mr Murdstone and our relationship unravelling as fast as the hem on a Primark dress. But-just for the record- I still feel that once a child has said sorry and clearly means it then that should be The End of the matter.
While I'd been talking to my mother and sister X had been having a quiet poo and a little think: "If I'm not allowed to go to the party does that mean I can have the present for myself?" she asked, eye firmly fixed on the main chance. Oh, and by the way, she now wants to be called Tinkerbell- Angelina, which doesn't strike me as a name for a shy retiring wall-flower.
Did Tinkerbell-Angelina learn any lessons today? Not sure. All I can say is that I tried my absolute best to exert quiet authority and insist on respect and it was exhausting. It is so much easier to be yelled at or just do a bit of pointless yelling. But Tinky-Angie taught me a lesson the other day when she told me that she thought K's father was the best daddy she knew. I asked why. "Because he tells him off when he's naughty." This little fairy seems to be asking for some stronger discipline, it seems to me. Out of the fairy-horses mouth, with bells on.
Just so I never forget
like the rest of the world she likes to sing Adele in the car.