Ruining the kids

I’m ruining my children’s lives.

Oh, don’t be alarmed. I do this most days.

Yesterday for example I yelled at my son for putting his feet on the table for the fifth time during an epic hour long supper challenge. This evening it was my daughters turn when I chose not to pick her up for the tenth time and instead abandoned her in the living room while I went to change into a fresh t-shirt. The one soaked from bath time was making me a little shivery but it’s no excuse.

Basically I am a bad parent.

I’m banking on the fact that he’s four and she’s one and that the tiny, bubbly clouds of foam they’ve both managed to steal by dipping their fingers into my beer in the last couple of months has dulled their memory sufficiently for me to get away with it.

What? They were yelling at me to taste some.

The reality is that the idea of being a bad parent gnaws at my innards like a starved hamster in a spaghetti filled balloon (No, that isn’t a scenario that has actually played out. Yet.). I lie awake at night paralysed by unnecessary guilt and irrational fear of failure. I know she poked me in the eyes before shredding my gums with the evil witch claws that double as nails but I should have laughed and said “Babba! No!”. I spend hours of my day fretting, ageing and replaying events; generally through rose-tinted, second-coffee spectacles. Yes, he was being a trifle difficult in refusing to eat his WeetBix because it had honey and cinnamon on it, and yes watching him protest the cereal based injustice by lying face down on the floor emitting a low groaning whine could be classed as irritating enough to want to go permanently deaf but to be fair what right do I have to yell at him if he decides he doesn’t want the same honey and cinnamon he’s had every day for the past eleven months? Surely it’s his prerogative – and indeed a reflection of his enchantingly free spirit – to change his mind about the honey a mere moment after requesting it?

So today I decided to do something grown up about it and face up to my failures.

It took less than a second for Google to return forty five million hits for my search request (how to screw up your kids). The first result was an article entitled “12 Ways To Mess Up Your Kids”.

Basically I am a bad parent.

One…NEVER Threaten To Leave Your Kids Behind

Even if the t-shirt changing incident this evening is borderline things are already looking decidedly dodgy at the first hurdle.

In the last week alone I can think of two occasions I have walked away far enough to allow the tantrum screams to fade to a whisper.

I may have also briefly hidden one morning to pretend I had gone to work.

I’m also fairly sure I may have suggested to a four year old child that he moves out of the house. In my defence I was faced with a conversation along the lines of “my other daddy will put you in jail” when I refused to read a story shortly after he had ripped a toy from his sister’s hand and got her screaming. I should point out that after several months we still have no idea who the “other daddy” is (unless my wife knows and isn’t telling) but he is used frequently as the shining knight who will punish evil daddy for his transgressions. In hindsight I probably should have stopped short of explaining to a little boy the meagre possessions I would allow him to take with him or labouring the point that he would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever see any of us again.

I offered to drop him off. Can’t have him walking the streets.

Two…NEVER Lie To Your Child

I told him tonight that the aeroplane we are flying on to the UK in two weeks time is a good friend of Thomas The Tank Engine and that he will drop us off on Sodor Island on the way for tea with Percy and Gordon (as long as you eat your peas).

I told him at bath time that his sister only hits him in the face because she’s little and doesn’t know how to hug.

Listing the other couple of hundred daily examples will achieve nothing. I’ve failed two out of two.

Three…NEVER Ignore Your Own Bad Behaviour

Apparently I am my children’s number one (or at least joint number one) role model.

There is no hope for them.

Although maybe if they see I’m ignoring my own bad behaviour they will learn to ignore it too. Got to love completely unproven reverse psychology.

The first three Roads To Ruin were enough to convince me that my doubt, guilt and fear was completely justified. Telling them both that I love them countless times every day, cuddling them, bathing them, reading bedtime stories, laughing with them, being completely stupid with them, caring about what they eat, wiping all manner of stuff off them, having all manner of stuff wiped on me, soothing them on bad nights, singing to them, walking with them, picking them up, carrying them around and trying with all my might to enjoy every fleeting second I have with them regardless of my mood doesn’t matter.

Basically I’m a bad parent.

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