January 5, 2013 by benmblackman
The Spice Girls will be happy – girl power is alive and well in my world. As if working with 17 ladies in my day job is not enough, I come home to a wife, daughter, 3 chickens (Dorothy, Jemima, Truly) and Daisy the three-legged cat.
Although I can’t pretend that 17 ladies in one workplace doesn’t bring a ‘few’ of its’ own idiosyncrasies, it’s probably best for my future financial (and physical) wellbeing not to dwell on these here and now. One day, believe me – if the walls had eyes!
Actually one small child (3 years old but, as she keeps reminding me, ‘BIG THREE,’ 4 at the end of January) causes me far more hassle than the 17 put together.
Christmas is, of course, a time for much fun, merriment and indulging. As an adult, come 1st January I’m always ready to do anything to get away from the gluttony of food, drink and credit but for The Calpol Kid, well, let’s just say she’s built up an appetite and is ready for more.
Over the last few days we tried to bring her down a peg or two but to no avail. Shouting, kicking, screaming demands (and that was just me and Mrs B trying to reason with her – ho ho ho)!
The camels back was broken as I tried to leave the house for work yesterday morning. Mrs B was no longer talking to her after a recent disagreement and I was endeavoring to leave without giving her the attention she demanded (no mean feat when she’s attached to your leg, screaming and crying, ‘I WANT TO COME WITH YOU DADDY.’
Mrs B reported via text in the afternoon.
It went on and on
and on after you left.
I can’t cope with it any more.
Sitting at my desk in my high powered (hmm) job, I strategized and solutionized (outside the box). It was obvious to me: communication was the key here. Surely we could talk this one out?
In my work place we manage to get though problems by talking about them in meetings (where, even though people would like to scream and shout and throw things around – mainly me – they don’t). So why not at home? Only a man could think this question rhetorical.
Don’t worry, I texted Mrs B,
we’re going to have
a family meeting tonight.
I’ll set the agenda.
She didn’t reply, I guess she was busy.
I worked up a comprehensive agenda, even scripted it out into toddler talk, and headed home. I could tell they were excited when I arrived, they hardly said a word. We met in the Board Room (kitchen table).
I had nothing to lose. After 3 nights of sleep deprivation and numerous diplomatic incidents in daylight none of us was talking to each other by now anyway.
I kicked off with a positive. ‘You’re BIG 3 now (darling), nearly 4. We need you to be good all the time, not just for Father Christmas.’
‘Yes, I’ll be good when I’m 4.’ She replied.
I could see she was a tough negotiator so I established my authority. ‘No, you need to be good when you’re 3.’
‘Well, I think you should.’
‘Well I won’t. I’m bored. Mummy, can I have some crisps?’
I thought it best to move on.
The idea was to establish a new sticker chart (basically Key Performance Indicators for toddlers) and write up a number of new Ground Rules (basically contract of employment for toddlers) so we all had ownership.
It turns out ownership is not as interesting as drawing horses. ‘We drawed horses today at nursery. Look at my horse.’
‘Yes, that’s lovely (darling), but can you listen to me now please?’
‘LOOK AT MY HORSE.’
I told her I’d never been so disrespected in a formal meeting in my career and I did not appreciate her tone.
She told me to pass her the red crayon. ‘What’s your favourite colour Daddy?’
‘Blue, I mean, shush, what should we put onto the naughty list?’
I had got the ball rolling with: shouting; hitting; and kicking. She loved the blue-sky thinking and reeled off a dozen more, too quick to jot them all down.
Bite; scratch; smack; stamp; nick; poke; push; throw, growl (yes, she does growl sometimes. That’s when you really know it’s about to kick off).
It was quite unprofessional of Mrs B to burst into a fit of giggles at this stage. Obviously I kept my cool and did not join in. Amateur.
The terms were set. You be a good girl – you get a sticker. You be a naughty girl – a sticker is taken away. Every week we count up the total stickers remaining (chance would be a fine thing) and every sticker = 10 pence. ‘I want twent-een pence.’
Oh no, not this again.
We agreed, saying sorry is important but not doing it is better (as our new mission statement).
I introduced the Count to Ten Technique (big in the 80’s growing up I seem to remember). In an age of equality I assured her that, if she thought we were getting overly aggressive with her she could tell us to apply the Count to Ten Technique also. She liked this. ‘Count to ten Daddy.’
‘No, not now (darling).’
‘YES, count to ten.’
‘NO, NOW CALM DOWN WILL YOU, WE HAVEN’T FINISHED YET.’
‘Daddy, calm down, you need to count to ten, you’re shouting.’
‘One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.’ She was playing me like a church organ.
We concluded by going over the agreements and all shaking hands. My work here was done. I could tell Mrs B was impressed as I closed asking, ‘any questions?’
‘Why does Father Christmas go HO HO HO?’ wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.
A full appraisal has been set for next week. I’m not entirely confident she’ll still be with the company at that stage.