Just when you think you have it right

I came home from a meeting the other night when the kids were already in bed and met MyNigel in the kitchen. He turned to me and said ‘it all went wrong tonight’. Assuming that our tired 6 year old had had a tantrum or somesuch I wasn’t much concerned (and it wasn’t really serious or I wouldn’t be blogging about it). Then he told me what happened.  You know that feeling when you suddenly realise you aren’t doing the amazing job you thought you were? Yeah, that.

I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that our son had devised and carried out a plan to get his little sister in trouble. Not serious trouble, but ‘sent to bed early’ trouble and it almost worked perfectly. Almost. It was only her adamant denials (from her bedroom) that she had not done what her brother accused her of – which was taking something of his and ruining it, as she has done numerous times – that made their Dad suspicious. Our son was adamant that she had done it, until asked to swear on his pocket money. Then he came out with it. He had set her up because, he said, she got away with stuff and he got in trouble for it. When she made him angry and he got angry back, he was the one in trouble. When he was told to go to his room he went, she just screamed and ran around and didn’t go to her room and WE DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. He does have a point.  It’s rather horrible when your 9 year old skewers you like that.

We do expect him to behave better because he is the older sibling, but he’s right that we have let standards slip with his sister. So his Dad has promised that we will shape up and be fairer with them both.

What I’m taking out of this, as well as a deep sense of failing as a parent, is relief that he still thinks we can be saved and is willing to be upfront about our failings as parents, that he trusts us enough to, finally, come clean and tell us what is wrong. We are pretty impressed that he planned and carried out this little scam too, but we aren’t telling him that. Because it is also just a little bit disconcerting that he played it so well. I don’t know if it would have been as effective if I were here, but it probably would. He’s a clever little bugger our son. I just hope that his parents are up to the task of teaching him to use his powers for good. Or fiction.


Categories: Life, parenting, relationships, work and family

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9 replies

  1. I don’t think that’s an atypical complaint for the oldest child. All of that certainly feels quite familiar to me (I was the oldest child living at home for most of my growing up).
    But here’s the thing — your partner listened to your son when he made it clear that it was a problem, and you are also taking your son’s concerns seriously. Which to me suggests not a deep failure, but a willingness to treat your son as a human being whose concerns need to be addressed. You did a thing that is VERY easy for even the best parents to do when one child is more mature than the other (and I suspect easier too when that more mature child is less prone to emotional outbursts), and now that you’ve recognised that you’ve been doing that thing, you’re planning to stop. Which to me indicates that you’re a pretty damn awesome parent.

  2. Totally agree with Beppie. And, with three now adult children, I can only say you and your partner have just displayed some very thoughtful and seriously good parenting.

  3. Yeah, this isn’t a deep parenting failure, but a temporary glitch that you’re owning up to and fixing. (The last five words being the most important part.)

  4. “…but we aren’t telling him that.”
    Er, can he read? Does he know about this blog?

  5. He doesn’t know about this blog. Thank you for the kind comments.

  6. This? Is why I’m terrified of having kids. Like sleepless nights, terrified.
    I’d have had no idea what to do. You actually do sound like you do know what you’re doing.

  7. Ipomen Scarlet it is all fly by the seat of your pants stuff but it is some of the most fun stuff you will ever do, should you choose to/be able to.

  8. I was once that younger sibling 🙂
    I think its a pretty normal situation especially in families where there is a large age gap between children. The younger child gets envious of the freedom and things that the older child gets to do and the older child gets jealous of how the younger one gets away more with things that they don’t. But its a pretty much inevitable outcome of treating children and expecting behaviour of them appropriate to their age and maturity. Probably good practice for them for dealing with situations which from their perspective seem to be unfair.
    It is quite scary how devious young children can be. Its the one big surprise I’ve had from parenthood. How even 2 or 3 year olds can be deliberately sneaky – they’re so good at finding and exploiting weak points in parents.

  9. The thing is, that we have to show our older child what he or she can do by being actually older – that they can decide what they want to wear or what they want to eat. We have to make them aware that they have nothing to be jealous about because being older means more.

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