Just as I finally finished reading Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children, and genuinely felt I had made some headway in my battle against shouting, swearing and beating the children with a rolled-up Kindle, I read an article called
. Lori Gottlieb, a therapist and mother, writes that trying to make your kids happy all the time only makes them, well, miserable.
... all that hard work down the drain. I even meditated (ok, only once, and then I got put off because the cooker timer started beeping halfway through and I had to decide whether ignoring it was part of the training or whether I should just get up and take the Quorn cutlet out of the oven). Turns out, contrary to my belief that occasionally losing my rag and yelling a bit would make the kids hate me, it seems that the odd moment of parental bad behaviour can help the kids grow up into independent, effective, balanced adults. In fact, being a perfect role model and doing everything for them will only breed wussy, narcissistic, reassurance-addictive freaks who can’t tell their pampered arses from their spoilt tennis elbows.
Ever prone to a knee-jerk reaction, I have drawn up a rota of bad parenting – child adversity training, if you will – to counteract the moments when I accidentally manage to be loving, attentive and supportive.
On Mondays I will remove all toys from the house. This will teach them to make their own entertainment, and also that life is cruel.
On Tuesdays I will act distant and disinterested. This will make them emotionally resilient and show them that they are, when it comes down it, alone in the world.
On Wednesdays I will not pick them up when they fall. As they lie, face down in the dirt, clutching their grazed knees, they will learn to tolerate discomfort, and also accept that sometimes Mummy can’t be bothered to bend down.
On Thursdays I will ban all forms of play and we will only carry out household tasks in a joyless manner. From this, they will learn that ‘many hands make light work’, but also that life is one long chore with no thanks at the end of the day.
On Fridays I will answer the ‘whys’ with brutal honesty. “Mummy, why does our dog walk funny?” “Because he has crippling arthritis”. “Why does he have crippen-arse-rat?” “Because his body is slowly but inexorably degenerating with every passing day: he’s very slowly dying, like all of us – even you, poppet!”
At the weekends we can relax.