A few weeks ago the pygmies were rampaging around a friend’s house with twenty other children, trooping ant-like up and down stairs, swarming over sofas and leaving a trail of party bag contents behind . I looked at the clock and made some swift calculations; just time for a nap in the car and home by tea-time.
“MY THREE: READY TO LEAVE!”
On the stroke of my bellow, three children fell out from the marching ants. They pushed feet into shoes, arms into coats and dutifully waited by the front door while I said our goodbyes. As I air-kissed the hostess I saw over her shoulder a line of open-mouthed parents staring incredulously at me;
“Blimey, it’s the Von Trapps” one muttered.
“Can we stand at ease yet?” said another.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a Nazi Mother.
I have favoured the Fascist approach to parenting since day one, but occasionally even I’m scared by the extreme nature of this maternal dictatorship. Visiting friends recently challenged the fact that my two-year old daughters are expected to make their beds in the morning, to put their washing in the laundry basket, and to help clean the house. We were having this conversation as my three-year old made us all a cup of tea, so I couldn’t help but grudgingly concede they had a point…
So yes, I’m strict. My children don’t get anything – and I mean anything – unless they ask for it politely. If they need their nappies changing, they trot off to get the requisite materials first. They play nicely, or they don’t play at all. If they don’t eat their supper, they don’t get their pudding. Ever.
When the girls arrived a mere fifteen months after their brother, there simply wasn’t room for democracy. Life was a time-tabled military operation of feeding, changing and napping; any slippage could jeopardise The Routine and therefore my sanity. It simply couldn’t be allowed. I can’t deny I secretly envied my go-with-the-flow friends whose children napped when they could and ate when food was available; the Socialist approach to parenting seemed so much more relaxed… But then I never spent evenings pacing with a baby; never ate a meal with a crying bundle on my lap. It’s all swings and roundabouts in the parenting park.
As my children grow up, and Routine becomes less important to me, I think I can relax the parenting reins a little and allow a little Socialism into our lives. Maybe. Just as long as the children still do as they’re told…
Are you a go with the flow parent, or is there room for a little fascism in your life?