So it’s dinner time. My 3.5 year old and 2 year old are sitting at their table whilst I wash up the pile of dishes that has mounted throughout the day in the kitchen. But the truth is, they aren’t actually sitting at the table…not really…there are several get-ups to dance to the wiggles, lots of chair rocking which has already resulted in tears for one of them when she landed on her ‘bum-bum’ on the floor and the constant visits back and forth to the kitchen requesting hands to be wiped despite telling me they haven’t finished eating.
Sensing that they are not intending to just sit quietly and eat I leave the washing up and join them. I spoon feed my perfectly capable 3.5 year old whilst my 2 year old dances around the table smearing sweet potato on every available surface (including me). My 3.5 year old is desperately trying to avoid the next spoonful of food I’m threatening her with and no amount of choo choo train or nyeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaa aeroplane noises is encouraging her to open her tunnel. She starts drinking vigorously from her water bottle, gulping it down like her life depends on it. She takes in so much water it spurts out all over me (in my eye) and on her top which she then decides she has to take off. Meanwhile my 2 year old copies her but takes it a step further, removing all of her clothes. I wouldn’t normally care except for the fact we are in the midst of winter here and the evenings are a tad chilly. That and the fact I’ve spent most of the day wiping thick green snot from their noses and mine (a direct consequence of having young children) and have just arrived back from a trip to the Dr for the youngest, I’m trying to instil a modicum of sensibleness (I know that’s not a proper word but it kind of fits what I’m trying to say) in amongst the chaos. And so I tell them off. Both of them…I tell them…
“Sit down, both of you. Eat your dinner properly. Stop being silly. There’s nothing else coming if you don’t eat what’s on your plate”…..there…I said it! That big fat lie that I often say. And they know very well that when they ask in an hours’ time, or half an hour or even 20 minutes…I’ll give in. And why do I give in….I’ll tell you exactly why…because all I want is one whole unbroken alarm ringing, gunky eye filled full and solid night’s sleep. The little voice inside my head freaks me out saying ‘if they aren’t full they will wake up’ so I give them more food.
I’m reminded of my big fat lie for the next 20 minutes during bath time as my 2 year old (who can’t string a proper sentence together) is now singing the words ‘nothing else coming’ – ON REPEAT!
When I tell them off they either totally ignore me or cry. Often I reflect on what happened and I’m usually left feeling like crap. They were having a great time. I spoilt their fun. I should have been grateful they were playing well together. Just because they weren’t doing what I wanted or needed them to do doesn’t mean they are naughty – they are so young! I guess the question I’m asking is what age is it really ok to tell your kids off? When does the line between exploring, adventure and fun become naughtiness and disobedience? When will I not feel bad for telling them off?