Being Dad

Being a father is fraught with danger…

Promises, Promises August 27, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 9:03 am
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On my last blog, I made a statement that I never give advice to other parents. I am going to break that rule right now:

Never, ever, ever, ever make a promise to a child you have no intention of delivering on. Not only will they remember, they will remind you daily about your frivolous agreement. At the moment, when my daughter turns three, she is in line for the following:

  • Get her ears pierced
  • Drive a car
  • Get a white dog
  • Get a pony

For the life of me, I can’t understand how a 2 year old not only remembers these irresponsible undertakings, but also actively remind me of them. OK, I know it’s partially my fault, but seriously, when Missy screams she wants a horse, and to keep the peace I say, “sure darling, when you are three”, am I liable? With hindsight, I should have said thirty, to coincide with the age I will be letting her date men, but at the time, it sounded so reasonable.

A child’s mind is a sponge. It is not cluttered with petty baggage like an adult. Their minds also haven’t been tainted by the world at large. Broken promises and hollow agreements are par for the course for an adult, so when I promise Missy, “Sure my princess, of course you can drive the car, you just have to be three” She files it immediately in an easily accessible part of her brain, ready to trot out out at the appropriate time.

I guess for adults, “Maybe later” is a well used and understood euphemism for “not a chance in hell”. I suppose sometimes I want to soften the blow, without outright saying no. Living in Hong Kong, a horse is just a bit impractical. Mind you, while on holidays recently, this happened: “Daddy, can I have a giraffe?”  “No dear, you can’t.”

After 20 minutes of screaming and tears, I decided that, well, “maybe later”, was the easier option. So when Missy turns three, there she will be: ears newly pierced, driving herself to the stables in the castle we now live in, ready to ride her pet giraffe; her white dog happily in the back seat, chatting to the pony.


Will Power August 13, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:29 am
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When children develop a will, the game changes. Missy won’t just mindlessly do whatever I tell her anymore. (I say that like she ever did do what I told her.) She now wants to know a bit more information before committing herself to a course of action. That, or she just decides whatever it is I want done, it’s not for her, and so there!

So what to do with a child that is happy to roll around in mud, but not so happy to have a bath before bed? What to do with a little girl that will not get into – or out of – the car seat?

I bribe her, that’s what.

Missy loves to watch DVD’s and TV. She is somewhat restricted, as my wife and I are reluctant to let her while hours away in front of a box. When she is older and has her own kids, there will be ample time to relax with mindless TV.

This also brings up a touchy subject. How much TV is enough? In keeping with my strict policy that I never give advice to other parents, the amount of TV a child watches, sweets they consume; bed time and anything else you can think of, are the sole domain of the child’s parents. I can advise what works for my little girl, but that doesn’t mean my wife and I are right (or wrong). It simply means we follow a course of action that works for us, or they are the limits we impose.  If another parent is comfortable with their children watching TV 10 hours a day, or no hours a day – it’s not my issue. Children and parents are all different.

And so, TV controversy avoided, let’s wade chest deep into the un-contentious issue of bribery.

If I slip a policeman $50 not to book me for speeding; if I send one million dollars to a politician, promising my vote if he will let me raze a forest of old growth trees; if my child gets to go to a good school at the expense of a more worthy child because I “donated” heavily to the new library – that’s bad.  Maybe I am being hypocritical, but promising Missy an episode of her favourite cartoon for eating peas, seems, well, less corrupt.

I do realize it’s a slippery slope to disaster, to link behaviour with rewards. But Pavlov aside, at her age, she is not quite controllable. Kids her age run onto the road for no other reason than they don’t have the capacity yet to properly discern danger, nor, it seems, the capacity to acknowledge my omnipotence…. Come to think of it, no one in my family has developed that capacity. How strange.

But anyway, when I want Missy to put on proper shoes, or wear clothes out to the shop, rather than going nude, I sometimes sweeten the deal with the promise of TV, or a lollipop. It saves our family a lot of crying and angst, from me.


Forking Confused August 6, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:37 am
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“I’m sorry, what did you say Missy? You’re confused? How could that be?”

This is “how that could be”.

So, here we go. It’s playtime, and out come the plastic and wooden fruits, vegetables and assorted meat delicacies. Time to play.

“Missy, don’t eat them please. Hey! Get that hardwood carrot out of your mouth this instant!”

Eventually, playtime comes to an end. It’s getting late, and Missy needs to be fed and put to bed.

“Missy! It’s time for dinner”. Dutifully she comes up to the table and stares at a plate, part of which, may be carrots. “Please stop playing with your food, and just eat it!”

The next day, it’s morning teatime, and Missy is ready with her little tea set.

“Cup of tea Daddy?” “Why, yes please, that would be lovely darling.” And off we go, pouring imaginary tea, and adding pretend sugar. Even a little hypothetical milk is available should I need it.

But playing with kids can be exhausting – don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it can tire me out. Sometimes I just need a nice cup of tea to relax.

“Missy! Stay away from that tea! It’s HOT”. “No, you can’t add the sugar, and leave that milk alone!”

Now, seriously, how could that be confusing? (Insert irony here).

As an adult, it’s easy for me to forget that a child is learning new things every day. I see a spider, insect or snake and know to stay clear, especially as an Australian, where a healthy range of animals can kill, or seriously maim you. Missy has the opposite reaction. For her, every crawly or slithery thing must be investigated touched and sometimes, tasted.

Words are another. Children’s vocabularies increase at an alarming rate. New words and concepts are added faster than I can eat M&M’s.  Which brings another issue:

The scenario: In the kitchen and Missy is happily playing with the pots and wooden spoons. Sure it’s not exactly Ringo, but her drumming is coming along. A tea towel over the pots makes the banging bearable. But then, as I am engaged in tea making, I drop the tag of the teabag into the cup of boiling water. Before my brain has had any chance to engage properly, “bugger it” slides easily out of my mouth.

I glance at Missy like a shoplifter who has just noticed the CCTV. She seems unconcerned and continues banging on the pots, unaware. Phew! Got away with it.

But then, as I relax, and right on cue, her drumming improves – because now she has a song to add:

“Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger” she sings happily.

Unhappily, I stand like a deer on a highway.

“Missy! Don’t say that!”
“Bugger, bugger, bugger.”
“No, seriously, stop it”
“Bugger, bugger, bugger”

The next stage in the process is to convince her you said something else: “Darling, I said chugger, you know, “c h u g g e r”: a man who drinks beer extremely fast at a party.”

Oh dear, that’s so clutching at straws. I had now taught my daughter to swear, and binge drink, in the space of 10 minutes.



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