I know you’re going to say no, but…”
There stands my 12-year-old. Trying to look as doey eyed as she did when she was seven but, with the tween years almost behind her, cuteness has taken second place to a determination. Omit the image of baby Bambi, and think the kangaroo out of Horton hears a who.
There. Now you get the picture.
“I know you’re going to say no, but…”
I didn’t hear the rest. I pretended to have urgent business to attend. The carrots were boiling over; I think I put the milk carton in the non-recycle bin or, I’d forgotten to put the bottle of sauvignon blanc in the fridge, and it was nearly ten past five.
I retreated to my office.
My life it seems is full of affirmations. Trumpeted to me regularly by those beautiful children of mine. Unfortunately, though, they’re not the affirmations that you wish to have written on your headstone. As much as I do all the mantras, have my little post-it notes on the fridge, listen to the soothing tones of my meditation app, as soon as I take the headphones off and step into the life that is mine, I am met by my two beauties. Reminding me that,“ hey. You. You don’t do this, you never do that AND you always say NO!”
When I was a kid-I, can’t believe I just said that, but, when I was a kid, and it wasn’t that long ago, Ok, Maggie was in power, but it wasn’t that far back, I didn’t hear the word “yes” that often. Apart from the times when I asked,
“so I have to do all the dusting, and the hoovering and Jamie only needs to put the cushions straight?”(middle child favouritism).
“What? You want me to walk 2 miles back down the same hill that I’ve just trudged up from school, to go and get you a pint of milk from the village shop because you can’t drive and are too lazy to go yourself? And by the way. I’m 9”. (and by the way, I didn’t tell her she was lazy)
Now. I don’t wish to be all- woe is me I had a horrid childhood, far from it. Walking up that hill with the milk sparked future creativity. Breaking up twigs and pretending they were ciggies was surely the beginning of my passion for drama. But, compared to the privileged life that my two lovelies have. Frig, yes. The two resemble chalk and cheese.
Even my idol who owned the local post office and corner shop, the one who was allowed to have a pie from the hot cabinet for her lunch, that one. Even she didn’t have what my children have, and in my eyes, she had everything. She even got a tin of condensed milk in her stocking for Christmas once. And she was allowed to eat it straight out of the tin.
Yet despite the fact that I didn’t get whatever I wanted, driven here, taken there, enrolled into the next best thing club. I was happy. Damn… sorry. That sounds so bloody cliched, but I was.
And I don’t think it did me any harm. To be told no more often than, yes. In fact, if anything, it made me a more determined, creative, productive and a more resilient human being. ( Apart from when I sit in the toilet crying because… well because it’s Tuesday.)
Let me reveal to you what I did when my I asked my parents for a pony and got a,
I know you’ll think I’m exaggerating when I tell you this, but it’s the truth.
When I was 9 we lived next door to a pig farm. After school each day, (’cause this was the 80s, and we didn’t have fencing, drama club, flute lessons or ballet class in the olden days) I would go to the farm. I’d spend at least an hour hosing down pig shite and then when the farmer went in for his tea; I’d try and ride one of the pigs.
That’s how desperate I was for a pony.
Trying to mount a pig. Now that’s determination. I’ve told my kids this story. They think I’m a chronic liar. I just look back and think… Wow. What a freak.
I’m still trying to work out which one I am. (The freak ) A twisted mother, or someone who believes that children don’t benefit from being spoiled. I’ll go with the latter, which is why I’ve tried with my kids to say no. Not just for the sake of it, but so that they may become creative and think of an alternative. (And so they too can be little pig riding weirdo’s like me).
But as you know, and I guess there must be a fair few of you who agree with me on this, it’s not easy.
Its one of the hardest tasks in the world. Saying no to your kids. Especially when most of the time it would be easier just to say yes. And it’s not just the saying of no. But saying no and then sticking to it. Even when they sidle up to you on the couch after dinner, hoping that your brick wall decision might possibly have been softened by a few grape juices. Go away. The answer’s still no.
One of my favourite films is, ‘ For the boys’ with Clive Owen. A beautiful tale of a newly widowed Dad, raising his boys in Australia. When he finds himself struggling, he sticks a sign to his fridge. It says. “just say yes to everything’
But that’s Hollywood, and maybe if I was married to Clive Owen or I was Clive Owens, dead wife, then I would agree. But I’m not.
Instead I just try to keep my kids pretty grounded. Try to not give them a yes to every single request. And in their defence, they’re actually pretty good.
Ive had to battle not to cave into the pressure of saying yes, simply because if I don’t, I might be considered mean, or be seen as depriving my children of something that may give them acute satisfaction for all of about 17 minutes.
Ok. Wait. Contary to what you may be thinking, Im not the wicked witch of the west. My poor homeschooled children locked at home in their pyjamas with no friends, and the only thing the tight cow of a mother will spend money on is a dictionary, a pair of crocs (replicas, not the real thing) and a bottle of sauvignon blanc. They do alright. More than alright. Honest.
Although had you asked my daughter last night? No. My Little kangaroo would have said they never get anything. Nothing. Rien. Jack sh*t.
Alright Liz, don’t get excited.
Now, because it seems, I have far too much time on my hands, rather than doing the things I should be doing; teaching my children. Picking through the garden with a poo bag, I am writing this blog. To share with you a few of the ‘wants’ that I have received this past year from my teen and tween.
What follows are my somewhat artistic reasons as to why the answer was a definite…No.
• “Can I have a pony”.
This is a beauty. And one that I think every 12 year old girl must ask for. Remember the pig? I do. Vividly. Find a pony to exercise for free . Other than that stick a halter on Patrick, our pet sheep, and go for a canter ‘round the paddock.
• “Can I have $10 ? to get a snack while I’m waiting for you to come out of the supermarket with a glut of food that I will devour as soon as I get home”.
The reincarnated seagull that goes by the disguise of my 15 year old son. Get your pocket money out and go and buy your own chips. Even better, come into the supermarket with me and help to carry the shopping. Oh god no. On second thoughts… Just wait here and be hungry.
• “Can I dye my hair pink? Permanently”.
ER…No love. You can not dye your hair pink. We are not Stephanie from Lazy Town. We are homeschoolers, and its hard enough explaining to folks why you’re ‘not in school today?’ without saying “oh, and by the way. That pink hair? Its permanent.”
• “Can I get a motorbike?”.
No. I’ve witnessed what you’re like with the lawn mower. Pushing it like a mad man. Headphones in, laughing manically to your Ricky Gervais podcast. No. The scooter’s there, ride that. It may not be cool but its bloody zippy when you get that leg swinging.
• “Can I get Facebook?”
You’ve got that lip syncing app that keeps you in your bedroom with the hairbrush for hours already. You really don’t need to see dead cats, big lips and plates of spagetti bolognese. Anyway. If you get FB you’ll be able to read all the things I write about you…No.
• “Can I get these expensive trainers with the tick on them ?”.
You know, heres me. I can’t remember the last time I went and bought myself expensive stuff. The Elastic has gone in my knickers… and I can’t seem to find the time to go and buy new ones. Its sad. So, No. Wear the crocs I bought you last month. Until your feet stop growing at a rate of knots, the answer is, NO.
One day I will write a list of all the Yes things Ive agreed to. To make myself feel better.. Until then, I will persist in trying to keep my little darlings from resembling Harper and Brooklyn Beckham, although, lets face it. Riding a scooter in crocs with their mother tailing behind in knickers with no elastic. Theres not much chance of that is there? No Liz, No.