When daddy doth protest too much
A DAD'S LIFE:‘You’re too hard on her and easy on the other one. Give her a break,’ says the missus.
Immediately shackles rise. I’m no tougher on one than I am on the other. Surely? In my head I’m a breeze with both. They ask me for stuff, I get it. They tell me to do something, I do it. It would be nice if it worked in the other direction but, alas, I ask for something, I get looked at.
Do we play favourites? I’d like to say no. In fact, I will say no.
There’s no favouritism here, there’s management of characters: powerful, bloody-minded characters who know me better than anyone else, and know also that no matter how often I deny them, they probably will twist me to their thinking eventually.
They have mastered the art of persistence, but in different forms, and as a result I respond differently. The result of this is I appear to be hard on one and soft on the other, but this is not a hole in my parenting skills. This is self-preservation.
“I’ll give her a break when she gives me a break,” I tell the missus.
“Fantastic,” she replies, “The 41 year old and the 11 year old in a stand-off. That’s bound to work out well for all concerned. Jesus, you don’t have to lose the plot with her so quick.”
So quick? So quick? The elder is a waterboarder. Her requests are always assessed and adjudicated on fairly. And while she is a wonderful conversationalist, great company, and intellectually inquisitive, no matter what you’re doing or what you’re talking about, she will wind up asking you for a pony. Somehow, she will route the discussion to that point. And ask, and ask, and ask.
It’s not just ponies. It seems that at 11, you begin to fixate on things and see your life as being essentially worthless if you don’t own whatever that thing is, or are part of whatever movement, club or group has suddenly assumed meaning of life status.
iPhones, iPads, iPods, they all fall under this umbrella. How can an 11 year old be expected to continue breathing without owning all three? How unreasonable are their parents to suggest that maybe just one would suffice?
Or, worse, that an Android alternative would be more cost-effective? You may as well pull out the pudding bowl and scissors and say: “Haircut time!” In fairness to the elder, she hasn’t fallen into the technology trap yet, but it’s in the post. Right now, her laser-like focus is on covering every inch of wall space in her bedroom in animal posters. Ah, the cuteness. Yeah, I defy you to survive the onslaught to adopt every species represented on those walls.