Is it just mine or has your child developed a split personality since starting school?
My daughter has suddenly developed skills that I never even knew she was capable of, like putting on her own socks and shoes, putting on her own coat, wiping her own arse – that kind of thing. Skills that are, however, exclusive to school time only. Between the hours of 8.40am and 3.15pm, a perfect child emerges like a butterfly from a chrysalis, stretching it’s wings in anticipation of gaining knowledge and wisdom. Outside of those hours, it’s a severe impairment of fine motor skills causing total paralysis and hysteria with a persistent exclamation, “I’m too tired!” or “I can’t do it!”
Perhaps it helps that she has a particularly wonderful teacher that is the epitome of Miss Honey from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. It’s already happened on several occasions that my daughter has accidentally called me her teacher’s name and role play now involves my daughter being her teacher with conversations going something like:
“It’s carpet time. Please use your thinking thumb.”
“But I’m just trying to make the dinner, Alice.”
“Mum, you’re not doing good listening.”
I made the hideous mistake of one day asking if I could be her teacher instead, only to be met with such bewilderment. “No mummy ,*chortles* you’re not a real lady.” Christ, I know my legs are hairy and I haven’t waxed my tash for a while but surely she is aware I am actually female?
Or perhaps it’s because schools have to nowadays celebrate mediocrity in order to encourage children to engage. My daughter turned the bath tap off of her own accord the other day. When I thanked her, her immediate response was, “do I get a treat for that?” My initial response was, “are you on drugs?” but then realising this probably wasn’t the case for a 4 year old, I quickly added, “how about the happy feelings you get from helping mummy? They’re your treat.” Somewhat unsurprisingly, my daughter pulled a face akin to having constipation and disappeared into her room muttering something under her breath.
But I’ve come to realise, there’s always a ying to the yang. There are ways in which I can use this to my advantage: Behaviour control.
“What would your teacher say if they saw you doing this?” “If you don’t do as you are told, I’m going to tell your teacher and she will be so disappointed in you.” “You should be ashamed of yourself; your teacher definitely will be when I tell her what you’ve done.”
(Just for the record, I don’t actually do this. I tried it once and my daughter told me, like Smuggy McSmuggerson that her teacher would never tell her off. Damn you, Miss Honey. Now I’m going to have to rely on Father Christmas to threaten her into submission with his naughty list. Nah, just kidding again. She knows it doesn’t really matter if you’re naughty or nice. Mainly because we told her Santa was put in prison after a particularly nasty drink and sleigh incident and there will be no presents regardless of how much she begs.)
No matter how feral or non-responsive my daughter becomes after school, it is ultimately passing the baton of responsibility to someone else for just over six hours a day. Six hours of stimulation whilst I can feel 20% less guilty about my parenting. Therefore, its obligatory and totally acceptable to make up for that guilt deficit by sticking on the telly till bedtime. “What’s that, Child? You want to watch the DVDs you found in the back of Dad’s wardrobe? Oh, go on then. Knock yourself out. You deserve it, Kiddo.”
In the meantime… I wonder if I’m ever going to actually meet this ‘tidying expert’ that apparently exists at school?