The joys of parenting: Ask and you shall receive
I CAN ask my kids to pick up their dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket and they can't seem to grasp the concept I'm trying to convey. They look confused. They frown. The words seem foreign to them.
Other times they seem to glean too much meaning from my instructions.
"That's disgusting,” I snapped at Miss 6.
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Our daughter seemed taken aback by the unexpected criticism.
"What is?” she attempted to ask through a mouthful of dripping sausage.
"You don't eat sausages and mash with your hands,” I said.
I eyeballed Tracey while pointing and with a flick of my head at our youngest in what I hoped conveyed both "can you believe this s---?” and "where were you on this one, Mrs Table Manners?”
Usually it's Tracey panicking about our kids' lack of etiquette so I wanted her to know she'd dropped the ball this time.
Lucky I was on hand to sort this out.
"Please,” I said in my Daddy voice where I pronounce each syllable clearly and succinctly so there can be no confusion about my meaning, "put it down.”
Miss 6 obediently dropped the sausage she was chewing on - from about a foot above her plate - and gravy splattered across the table.
"Why would you do that?” I demanded as I left the table for a cloth to clean the mess.
Tracey suggested, in a tone which read both "don't start with me” and "nice one, idiot”, it was possibly because I'd told her too. I suspect my wife enjoys it when I fail.
"Yeah,” said Miss 6, taking the cloth and, in much the same way I work with top soil, converting the several lumps of gravy to an even sort of spread, "that was silly of you, Daddy.”
It occurred to me somehow this was now all my fault.
Time to redirect the blame firmly to where it belonged.
"Now this time,” I said, walking the cloth back to the sink for a rinse, "eat your dinner properly. Without your hands.”
Four quick things.
One, at this juncture I was again rather pleased with my parenting.
Two, that didn't last.
Three, we weren't done with the cloth.
Four, Tracey got cranky with me for not "using my brain”.
Tracey dropped her own knife and fork and the word "NOOooooooo...!” formed in her mouth.
But she was too late.
"Okay, Daddy,” Miss 6 chimed happily after briefly glancing down at each hand with a thoughtful frown...
...and face planted into her plate of sausages, mash and gravy.