Parenting is bloody hard.
You don’t need me to tell you that. You also don’t need a parent to write a post with a “woe is me” slant when it was my choice to have children. I am not after sympathy, I am just trying to share something about me as I start this new blogging process.
The other point about this post is that it is not intended to be exclusive. Truth is, you may be a parent – in inverted commas – in another context. I have never sobbed so thunderously or for so long as I did when holding Hooch, our dog, as the needle went in to bring her long and cherished life to a close. Nor am I more attentive than to the beep of the washing machine as a merino sweater finishes its cycle; brushing anything off the kitchen table in order to quickly dry it out flat. A moment lost, is a centimeter or two of material lost to shrinkage.
My real issue with parenting, is me. My approach to the two developing brains in our family.
Quick flashback montage/ screen goes hazy. My Mum and Dad got divorced very early in my life. Sometime in the second or third year based on the memories I have. Everything was good until I started to go to school and realised I didn’t like it, realised there were boundaries I could push and stretch. So I started to push and stretch those boundaries at home. This was the 1980s. If I pushed things with my Dad, I stopped seeing him for a bit so things could cool down. If I pushed things with my Mum, tempers flared and – see note about it being the 1980s.
This was all I knew about parenting when, in 2009, LLK came along. I focused very much on what I would do differently as a father, brushing over the fact that I had got into my 30s in a way that must have surely had something to do with my upbringing.
Then LLK started moving towards a school age, started to grow and develop as a child. Soon after, HMKing came along. Then my parenting style became all too clear.
The best way to describe it is – loud. If there is a parenting scale of 1 – 10, where one is a staged, paid for advert on Instagram where the parents and children are Special K happily playing with each other in the Special K park, kicking up leaves and smiling Special K at each other; and 10 is Esther Rantzen abseiling from a chopper about to burst through a window to save the kids in a public safety video – I am pretty much a permanent eight. I never go beyond this mark; no need to dial the 0800 number where I am concerned. That said, I only really drop down in a controlled environment where I know security have swept for tantrums and outbursts and all is OK.
As a parent, I am on edge. I am waiting for the next moan, the next frustrated child to lash out. I am on guard with my own riposte, my own poorly worded response to a child that is just being a child. It’s bloody tiring – for everyone, not just me.
I know I need to work on it, know I need to stop being an eight all of the time. We have two great kids (average score includes time they are asleep or at school and not sat in front of YouTube or criticising my cooking) that are simply going through the process of being kids. They can’t always acknowledge and explain their emotions or their frustrations in a way a level-headed adult can (yes, I am talking about A.) – so all too often it comes out in a moaning, challenging voice.
I need to zone it out, translate it better in my head and find a way to turn the dial down rather than, as happened on Sunday, rant at a child for not wearing a jumper because I saw it on the back of the chair, only to turn around and see them wearing a different jumper. I was definitely an eight at that point.
However, we “cut the moment” and moved on to the quiet period in the curve of escalation between Jumpergeddon and MYBAGELHASBUTTER war of Harlow Carr. A. at all times diffusing the situation as we go.
Which is why there is hope. With A. by my side we work on it together. A. is a natural two, who may occasionally join me on eight, but never at the same time. We flex and we mould together. I leave the room, go and scream silently at the thought of “ballsing up” once more – but we get through it; we use the Power of Two. So that when I return to the room, all is calm. The kids are laughing, A. is smiling and it is up to me to come back down to everyone else’s level; to start being a calm, parent once
more in awhile.
I am learning. I am trying to get better. So much so that I am going to be running a retreat and hosting a podcast in the future for anyone else that, like me, is dealing with the challenges of parenting and may not always succeed. Catch Perman8 where you subscribe to your podcasts.
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