It has been hot lately. Really, really hot. As in you walk outside at 8am and feel like you’ve entered an oven, or an inappropriately long hug on a summer day. As in you can’t really think between 11am and 6pm, unless you jump in the pool or lock yourself in an air conditioned room.
All of this, I have discovered, has its impacts on parenting. Tempers are short, whinging is plentiful, and smacks are probably dishes out more readily than completely necessary.
In truth, this has been one of the more difficult aspects of life lately. I’m constantly assessing my mothering, and feeling like it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be that day. It’s discouraging, but then I remember generations of mothers have been endlessly infuriated for thousands of years before me…and lots of kids still turned out ok.
I mean, once when I wouldn’t stop wriggling, my mum whacked me over the head so hard with my hair brush that it snapped in two. Aside from the twitch I’ve turned out fine. And I have an awesome childhood war story to boot.
(Mum wants everyone to know it was a plastic brush, easily broken, and that all the mums did it in those days. Sorry to dob you in mum. I LOVE YOU).
Also, inappropriate moments often result from these short tempers which, try as I might, I cannot help but find funny.
Take, for example, the time I got irritated enough to loudly say “bugger” in front of Kepler. I thought I had escaped until we were at a playdate a little later and the wee man came marching around the corner with his friend, both of them muttering a crystal-clear “bugger” in unison as they approached.
I think I said something about school being a bad influence at that point.
Or the time we got to playing David and Goliath in the pool, where I am actually cool enough to be a fun, spotaneous, energetic parent. How can Bible stories be a bad thing? I thought.
Later that week Kepler’s teacher had to pull me aside to talk about a “hitting incident” at school.
“He hit him so hard that I heard it all the way down the hallway,” she said.
Then, there was the day Will got so wound up over some problem or another that a loud “DAMMIT” issued forth from his mouth right in front of Kepler.
Our eyes instantly met in that “it’s too late to go back” way, and then a soft “damage!” broke the air between us.
“Kepler,” I said in my best, calm mum voice. “Daddy made a mistake and that really isn’t a word we should say.”
“Damage,” he muttered again softly while staring at me.
I felt my heckles rise. “We don’t say that word, Kepler.” I added in a much firmer voice.
“We don’t say damage, mummy. Mummy, we don’t say damage, ok, we don’t say damage.”
I exhaled loudly. After a while of “damage” being exclaimed in various tones of voice, to consistent reprimand, the little man got a smack. In hindsight I’m not convinced it was the right parenting choice. Had it been cooler, I probably would have just laughed at the hilarity of his pronunciation from the outset.
Later that evening I was chatting away to Will with the little man hanging out close by.
“Anyways,” I finished the story, “there was some serious damage.”
This time, it was Kepler who met my eyes. There was a moment of silence. A soft “damage” broke the air.
Kepler 1, mum nil.