Tough Love and Parenting Purgatory

To say “Daniel is attached to his teacher” would be an understatement of note.

The last time, a couple of months ago, when her child was ill she wasn’t in class for 2 days and Daniel had a bit of a meltdown. On the second day we received a phone-call from the school, right after break, to say that he had a tummy ache. Like the caring parents we are we rushed to his rescue and wonder of all wonders, the stomach ache disappeared the minute he was collected from school by Etienne. It was nothing short of a miracle!

This week his teacher went on a Netball tour so she was away from class most of yesterday and the whole of today. We could already see by Daniel’s sleeping patterns (3am nightmare alerts and the inevitable bedhopping) and sudden excessive chewing of nails that he was not too happy about this state of affairs.

Like all good Helicopter Parents we tried to acknowledge and discuss his fears and give him extra love without getting sucked into the drama, but most of all we wanted him to know that he can survive without her as he only has a few months left in her class and then has to move on to the next teacher. Because, that’s life you know. We also had to trust the school that they wouldn’t send in Miss Rottenmeier is a replacement teacher, which they didn’t.

Yesterday he was fine, last night Etienne did the bed-hop and this morning he seemed ok, if a little muted. We reminded him that it was only 1 more day and then it it weekend and of all the great things we will do this weekend.

Like clockwork, right after break I receive a call from the school: Daniel has a stomach ache, he is not feeling well. Luckily the reception lady is really on the ball, so I ask her if she thinks he is really sick. She says she doesn’t think so. So, I ask her to put him on the phone.

  • Me: “What’s wrong my boy?”
  • Daniel: “My stomach hurts”
  • Me: “Did you go to tuck shop? What did you buy?”
  • D: “Only 1 sweet” (barefaced fib, he had R10 and I bet you spent every last cent of it, he is his Mother’s child)
  • Me: “Are you still worried about your teacher not being there?”
  • D: in a really small voice “Yes”
  • Me: “It’s almost time to go home, you are going to have to stay at school. It’s not long now, you just have to be brave a little while longer my boy” I didn’t plan on saying it, it just kind of popped out of my mouth, but once it was out there was no taking it back.
  • D: in an even smaller voice “Yes”
  • Me: ” Mommy loves you, I’ll see you later”
  • D: doesn’t answer

Don’t get me wrong, this upset me on many levels, but we explained to him last time that, if he isn’t really sick we cannot collect him from school and that, next time, we may not believe him if he really is sick. Cry Wolf and all that. I also realise that, if we don’t make him learn some of the tougher lessons in life now he will never be forced to learn otherwise, or will only learn them with a great deal of unnecessary pain.

I called home after school and he was happy as Larry, playing away, whilst his Mother was at work, counting the minutes until that first glass of wine tonight. It’s been one of *those* days.

People. Parenting is HARD.

Ps: It’s our beloved Au Pair’s last day today and from Monday they’re back at Aftercare, so that may also be why he’s feeling unsettled

Pps: Etienne is away on his annual Mancation for 5 days next week, so this may also be a contributing factor. At least I will have much fodder for blog posts

Ppps: This tough love thing must be an annual event, check out the Tough Love post below WordPress cleverly picked up. Click here if you can’t see it.

Tough Love

Daniel peeling a carrot.

Tertia re-tweeted an interesting article last night from the New Yorker that I found very thought-provoking.  It basically boils down to how we are raising spoilt and lazy people.

We have domestic help (Yes! We have a lovely, sober new lady!), so hardly ever do the kids have to make their own beds.  Yes, they know to take their breakfast dishes to the kitchen (those 5 steps to the sink) and they can happily pour their own water from the convenient dispenser in the fridge. And yes, the kids can all feed themselves, dress themselves, cut their meat and brush their teeth.

But is it enough? I shamefully have to admit that Daniel wouldn’t be able to tie his shoelaces even if they magically almost tied themselves by way of fairy dust and glitter.

We make half-hearted attempts at getting them to clean up the playroom/their rooms. Etienne is way better at this than I am, I just close the door to the playroom and back away quietly.

We don’t really involve them in cooking and baking unless you count licking the bowl as helping and getting them to sniff and identify spices, something Daniel is really good at.  This is not because they don’t want to, it’s because I hover over them spooning flour etc into the mixer because God Forbid they should make a mess.  And it is infinitely harder to manage 3 helpers perched on the kitchen counter gleefully armed with spoons and flour then you might think.

But I digress.

I just often wonder about what type of people we are raising.

I wonder if we are spoon-feeding them all the answers to life or giving them the space to make their own mistakes.

I wonder if we invest enough of our own time in guiding and teaching or leaving it all up to others to do.

I wonder if we are tough enough with them.

Without sounding all Tiger-Mother-like of course.

What kind of adults do you think we are all raising? What chores do your kids have?

PS: Our new domestic lady definitely comes from a home where absolutely everything is done for the kids.  She wants to dress them, feed them and carry them the whole time.  I am horrified. I feel like a complete bitch asking her not to do too much for the kids.

PPS: Etienne left this morning on his Annual 5-Day Boys’ Trip.  Otherwise known as my Annual 5-Days of Single Parenting. Fancy that.  This morning went off well, let’s hope the we all make it to Sunday in one piece.  I’m lining up friends and partners-in-wine as I’m writing.