There is a familiar and repeated motto shared in our home, and it’s simply the importance of being kind.
Some of the proudest parenting moments on the relatively short journey so far have been when others remark on the caring qualities and kind natures of my offspring
This is not to say they demonstrate this behaviour on a daily basis; among the sudden bursts of pride also come testing times.
What is it about the school holidays which give rise to those rather less favourable children, whom you love but at the same time feel okay in confessing to disliking?
Over the course of a week, the mum playlist shifts between shuffle and repeat of the most basic disciplines and behaviours.
Come day two at home, all that ramped-up energy and lack of routine plays havoc in the household (see exhibit A) so to lessen the stress on both parent and child the best course of action is the dreaded soft play.
Any parent, grandparent, carer, guardian who says they enjoy this regular ritual is most certainly not telling the truth. It takes real strength, everyone suffers.
Yet it is a necessity to embrace these extra-cold, crumb-encrusted, feral-ridden, sweaty-tinned ‘homes’ as friends, not enemies. The purpose? To enable the house at least one day recovery while paving a relatively smooth route to bedtime
The safest bet is strength in numbers, phone a friend for mid-week play-date.
Cue this week’s half-term excursion where the children and I were given a perfect demonstration on how the importance of kindness sometimes needs readdressing in ‘adults’ of a certain age too.
For it was not the children but I who came out bruised from this ‘safe haven’, thanks to a dressing down from a fellow mother on my appalling choice of seat location, apparent lack of supervision and child-rearing skills, all while raging about the behaviour of child number two deep within the chaotic mass of netting and soft padding.
Five minutes into this and the actual scenario leading to this angry outburst remained unclear.
The ‘story’ among the labyrinth of tunnels, slides, and plastic balls, was my younger one had taken offence to her son upsetting his sister and had reacted to a shove/wrestle from the little lad with choice behaviour of his own.
I need not have look further than my four-year-old’s face to indeed tell he had been guilty of foul play.
Ready-to-go with the well-rehearsed speech on the loss of poms poms from his jar (our home reward scheme) reinforced messages in kindness and those threats of going home (the ones you’ll never carry out) I was about to ask him what he felt the right response would be when said lady continued her tirade with some parenting ‘lessons’ of her own.
Contrarily, she invited me to watch as her boy inflicted some violent payback of his own, 'I would see just what he was capable of' before chastising me again for raising a ‘bully’.
Once home, I did, in fact, take away his rewards and asked him what he had learnt. It was the older one who chimed in “well what he did was naughty, but that lady really was very unkind”.
My methods aren’t too bad after all.