Where my children are concerned I am utterly ineffectual. I start with "Please", then progress through wheedling and bribery to "I am going to ask you one more time", "I'm going to count to three" and "if you don't I'll..." before invariably reaching boiling point with "WILL YOU JUST DO AS YOU'RE TOLD!".
So I've often wondered what makes a scary Mummy. We all know them. I remember my friend H's mother. She was a wonderful, intelligent, charming woman, and I never once heard her raise her voice, but right into my twenties I was petrified of her. She had only to walk into a room to have me leaping to my feet volunteering to clear the dishes, take the bin out, scrub her shoes... At the same time though, I thought she was amazing. It's a cliché, but she was firm but fair, and H and her sister were renowned among my parents' friends as being the best behaved children in the Northern Hemisphere.
But I have no idea how she did it.
Or so I thought...
Picture the scene. 6.30 a.m. Saturday morning. L sharing her room with her friend D. They have been utterly hyped up, finally falling asleep after the usual series of blandishments and threats at some point after 9 the night before. They are under strict instructions that they are not allowed out of bed until the sun comes up on L's sun and moon clock. This is going to happen (perhaps optimistically) at 7.30.
I hear voices. D needs a wee. For some reason this necessitates company.
"L, L, wake up, I need a wee".
I am out of bed in micro-seconds. Finding my dressing gown (D is at an impressionable age after all, and there are some things it's not fair to show a small boy without warning) takes a little longer. Into the bathroom, where weeing has now become enthusiastic hand-washing:
"WHAT is going on in here? Back into bed both of you. I don't want to hear another word until the sun comes up"
Back into bed for me too. I lie, twitching my ears like a hunted rabbit, for thirty-five minutes. Not a sound or a squeak. Perhaps I've got lucky and they've gone back to sleep. But no. A word. L's voice. A response:
"L, your mummy said we weren't allowed to talk".
Silence. Total blessed silence. For all of the remaining twenty-five minutes.
Unbelieveable. How did I do that? It wasn't a one-off either. That night, and the next, after more pleading and grumpiness of the "time to go to sleep now variety" from B and both of D's parents, I take my turn. One threat of separation and they are both asleep within five minutes.
Fluke? Probably. It hasn't worked on my girls today after all. But I'll certainly be trying it again.... And if anyone knows what the secret was, let me know.
Oh, and ps, here's the BMB blog hop. Go and have a look:
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