Do parents have favourites?

Catching leaves

The Girl is really doing my head in at the moment, and to be honest, I’m kind of relieved.

For the first three years of her life, I cuddled her, carried her everywhere, dressed her, slept in her bed with her if she had nightmares or growing pains or just wanted company in the night, let her off eating the rest of her dinner if she didn’t fancy it. My husband, the Fairy Godmother and I even sing to her in glorious three part harmony if we are all around when she wakes up at night. (As you can imagine, this has done nothing to decrease the frequency of nightwaking.)

In short, I have doted on her. She is simply the cutest, squidgiest, most adorable little person to ever dance around on two legs and then fall flat on her face.

Meanwhile, the Boy was difficult.

When he was two, I had a baby to deal with and I had to push him to be more independent. He got on with it and worked out how to dress and undress, climb into the bath by himself and learned to read himself stories for good measure.

When he was three, he started developing a will of Valyrian steel. It drove me nuts. Mainly, I was just outraged that he would defy me at all. For what seems like ages we locked horns. I would lay down the law – he would pursue his own, clearly superior plan. It took The Husband and I over a year to work out the best ways of challenging his behaviour and leading it down better, more acceptable paths.

It seemed to me, on a daily basis, like my interactions with the Boy were mostly negative and my time with the Girl was full of hugs and delight.

I started to worry that I had let myself develop a knee-jerk, negative response to the Boy.

I started to worry that I had A Favourite.

When I was in my early teens there was a period of a few months when I was convinced, with searing jealousy, that my Mum loved my brother more than me. I would catch her looking at him with an adoring look in her eye that spelled it all out plain as day, to my mind. Meanwhile, I felt I was getting all the jobs, the reprimands, the disapproval.

And you know what – maybe I did, at that time. He was a tween and still had a bit of the cute chubby cheeked look while I had just shot up and sprouted spots everywhere. Not so cute. Also, I was a teenager and did more stuff that deserved reprimanding. Also also, I was older and could handle more jobs.

Perhaps, at 3 and 1, the Girl was my favourite of the two. She said adorably cute things and let me dress her and she (mostly) did as I asked. If she was naughty, it wasn’t deliberate.

Fast forward to present day. The Boy at 5 is a delight. He is actually helpful: he can feed the cats, wash up, set the table, pour milk into the Girl’s cereal and has intelligent comments on multiple choice reading exams. He is fascinated by everything, and you can have amazing conversations with him about science and art and religion and you end up feeling like a genius because you know so much (compared to a 5 year old). His favourite pastimes no longer require my input or much supervision: he will play school by himself, he develops and executes craft projects with minimal help and he builds Lego intended for 7 year olds from the “inconstructions”, as he adorably calls them.

The Girl, on the other hand, clearly thinks Valyrian steel is for wimps and sissies and has developed a will made of diamonds. It sparkles so brightly, endears you with its determination and then BAM: she is on the floor wailing, refusing to move when you are already ten minutes late for school pick up.

When she does not want to do something, she will a) ignore you, then b) go limp on the floor refusing to move and c) start crying like you are taking her to prison. And believe me, there are many, very reasonable things that she does not want to do.

The Husband and I are working on strategies, but it may take a year or more to train this one. This time we are more upbeat though. At the table is a 5 year old building Lego, living proof that the threenager can be defeated.

So: do parents have favourites? Yes, yes we do. But who that favourite is depends entirely on who is the most pleasant to be around at the time – which may be different every day.

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Life Game: What’s Cool and What’s Lame

What’s up Gamers?

I’ve done it! I’ve got to Level 3 of Life Game and I’m becoming quite a pro. I’ve got to the stage where I can watch n00bs blundering about the training levels at Toddler Groups, trying to do Walk or Crawl (badly), and I can have a laugh at them or go up and give them some pointers.

I have also got to a point in the game where I have a pretty clear idea about what I like and what I don’t like. And I don’t see why anyone should try to make me do the bits of the game that are Lame. So in this episode of my Life Game Hacks, I thought I’d give you a run down of the bits I like and the bits I don’t like, and some tips on how to get any interfering busy-bodies (read: The Mummy) to butt out and let you get on with painting your underarms purple or whatever it was you were doing.

COOL STUFF

Painting – What could be more glorious than covering a piece of paper in bright colours using a brush? And your hands. And your knees. And then covering the table, the chair, the floor, your clothes, your hair, your arms and whatever you can get to before the Mummy is alerted to what you’re doing (she calls it Making a Mess but I say potato potahto). Painting is photo (9).JPGawesome.

Cake – With icing please. And every day please. And once I’ve licked the icing off you can pick the discarded spongy bit up off the floor yourself because I don’t need it anymore, thanks.

Teefee – Best. Thing. Ever. Princesses, Barbie, doggies, kitties, beautiful girls with starry Manga eyes, and they all go around rescuing people and eating cupcakes. It’s like my imagination has come to life! And you don’t have to make the characters talk for once so you can just sit back and recuperate some health points.

Tip! Teefee also gives you useful updates on what you could buy in the Shops (with your Mummy’s credits of course). When you spot an item from the Teefee, just point at it and shout at the top of your voice LOOK LOOK LOOK Mummy! It gets her to interact with the item, though I’m still working out how to actually move it to my inventory. Will keep you updated.

Role play – Why be yourself when you can so easily pretend to be someone else? When you interact with an NPC and they address you by your name, just give them a blast of your Charisma and say: “Do you mean: Dora?” You can use any TV character name of course. My current favourite is Princess Leia. Insist that all henchman and other players change their screen names to match your new identity, for instance, The Brother has to be Luke, the Daddy has to be Darth Vader and the Fairy Godmother is, obviously, Cheesebacca.

LAME STUFF

Stickers and colouring – The Mummy seems to think that these are somehow just as fun as Painting and should be an acceptable alternative. But she clearly does not understand what is so fun about Painting. How can you make a decent mess with stickers or crayons? Why would you want to colour inside the lines?? (Yuck)

Comics – Once you’ve got the toy off they’re pretty much useless. Juvenile stuff. I much prefer a decent novel: a bit of David Mitchell or Kate Atkinson will do.

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Preferred outfit in sub-zero temperatures

Warm clothes – ZOMG will they quit already with the coats and jumpers? Don’t they know that they cover up my pretty dresses?? I need to wear a dress, pref a summer dress, not trousers because they are for boys. That is stuff you know when you get to Level 3. Also, socks are nasty and unnecessary, just take them off anytime you can and abandon them wherever.

Playing with stuff I am allowed to play with – Where is the fun in that? Sure, I wanted to play with Skye, but once the Brother gave me his big cuddly Skye, I only got half the experience points for holding her. I had to start sneaking over to his Paw Patrol box to get the little Skye out, because that still gave me the triple experience for doing Thief missions.

Lame Stuff Avoidance Techniques

Here are some ways you can make it clear to the Mummy that her suggestions are lame:

1. When offered unacceptable dinner options, shout: “I SAID I not want dis food!!” Then push the bowl away. You can do this with drink as well, of course: “I SAID I want JUICE!” Then push the offending cup of water across the table so it tips over and soaks the Mummy’s supposedly important papers (my paintings look much more beautiful and she puts those in the recycling so I think this is only fair).

2. Cry. Just roll around on the floor or the sofa and do Crying, making as much noise as possible.

3. Hit. If no NPCs are within range, just whack the sofa or a toy. They have fewer hit points and break more easily so that has the added bonus of making a mess (again)

Well, there you go, it was a long one but I hope this points you in the right direction.

Got any requests for my next update? Let me know in the comments if there is a tricky bit of Life Game you are struggling with and I’ll do you a walk-through in my next post.

xoxox

The Girl

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