A little while back, Emily O made me laugh with her Seven habits of a highly ineffective mother. But while reading and nodding, I was also thinking "Well, this is all very well, but she needs to give credit where credit is due. No one gets to be a truly ineffective mother if they don't have a highly skilled crack team* of children on which to practice.
So, for the under fours** reading this blog, here are the seven skills, in my opinion, of the successful child. Do these and you too can have a highly ineffective, probably grey-haired, mummy.
1. Never do anything quickly. Take your time. There is no hurry. Let Louis Armstrong be your guide. Doesn't matter how busy she says she is, or how little time she says there is, Mummy can always be kept waiting just that little bit longer.
2. Care about the things that matter. It is important which bowl you have your breakfast in. Or which pair of socks you have on. Or whether the beans are touching the fish fingers.
3. If something isn't right, make your displeasure known. Make it loud or she might not hear you. How will she ever learn otherwise?
4. Mothers need to exercise their vocal chords. Never do anything on the first time of asking. Nor the second. Or third. Fourth is just about acceptable, but for really successful parental training you want to be aiming for six or seven repeats.
5. Whatever your sister/cousin/brother/friend/dog is playing with is always more exciting and interesting than what you're playing with. Get it.
6. Anything out of a packet is always, without exception, whatever the packet says on it (All Bran, Plain flour, Polyfilla) tastier and more appealing than anything out of a saucepan.
7. Treat her mean, keep her keen: at the end of the day, when Daddy comes in, stop what you're doing, look at him, smile winningly, lift up your arms for a cuddle, and ignore all the previous rules (but only where he is concerned) until bedtime.
*"Team" can, in this context of course, equally well mean the highly adaptable, exceptionally focussed, single child too. Any one of my three is perfectly capable of doing all of these (including having an argument) on her own.
** And probably the under fives too - I'll let you know in April.
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