Monday, 19 August 2013

"Grandpa's prerogative" syndrome

When E was tiny, there were many elements to our parenting that I guess were quite militant. We weren't in a strict routine, but we lived by EASY (The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg) but there was always bath time before bed, we never came back downstairs and went straight to bed after. Rules we still follow today, actually, but bedtime is more flexible, there's probably a book involved and it's inevitably made a little less calm by chasing a frantic nearly 17 month old around her room trying to get a nappy on. I never let her sleep on me as a baby, I'd always put her down if she fell asleep on a bottle or when having a cuddle. I'd never wake her (unless it was for a doctors appointment!) and I was always wary of throwing her out of balance or disturbing the routine she fell into herself. Her timings were predictable and she slept through very early on. A few of my friends were critical of my approach but on the whole, at least to my face, no one seemed to bat an eyelid to the presence of our good friend Captain Routine. I guess I was terrified of rod-making; I was going back to work 'proper' (ie the start of the academic year) when E was five months old and I wanted to know where we were at for the sake of nursery and her Nana and Toggy who used to look after her once a week. And I think, now we're long into toddler-dom, I didn't make any rods. She still likes predictability, but she is more flexible and more adaptable and I guess because of that we've relaxed our ways a little. Some things wont change. No rocking or cuddling to sleep (unless she's poorly, then most rules go out of the window). Crying it out, to an extent, at nap times is acceptable, in my view. If you throw your lunch on the floor, then there is no alternative. I'm sure some people will read this and think I'm a big meanie-pants... But it works in our household and it's always lovely when we're told how well-behaved, polite and well adjusted our daughter is. Or when friends ask for our advice for their own kids. I feel satisfied that thus far, we've done a good job.

Ask me again when we're in the terrible twos. I may retract that statement.

It's the summer holiday, which gives us the opportunity to visit people we don't get to see in term time and be a little more blase about it not mattering if she doesn't transfer from the car to her bed at 10pm without a milk-stop because we've not got anything to do tomorrow, and we've been enjoying having this time. It's a shame that the poorly household stopped play on a few of our earlier plans, but such is life with kids, I guess. We've all been there.

So, with this new found flexibility, I'm getting to grips some stuff that the mere though of would have horrified me a year ago. It's what I describe as "grandpa's prerogative" syndrome. The stuff that you let them get away with because they're not at home, they're in the company of people who love them but don't get to see them very often, you really don't fancy a meltdown during Sunday lunch service at the pub and it's a real treat etc.

A visit to a friend's parents' house for a BBQ the other week saw E eat her entire dinner standing up on a garden chair. But she ate LOADS, she didn't feed it to the dog and went home with a full belly. At lunch celebrating my dad's unnamed milestone birthday she drank two fruit shoots, both of which she downed in one at the time of consumption and ate only the scampi from her dinner plate, followed by dipping some fries in grandpa's gravy. That's not how we roll at dinner time, is it? Rearranging the entire greenhouse and moving all the bamboo rods to an unnamed location in the garden. Snacking on dolly mixture. Giving up on an attempt at an afternoon nap. You get my drift. I have found myself being surprisingly laid back about the lot of it.

What I do worry about is that I'm too laid back in how we react to 'naughtiness', or boundary testing, or learning manners. How we all chuckle at the indignant "NO" I get in response to asking her if I can change her nappy while we're enjoying the sunshine in the garden. It is funny, but what message does that give her? How we find it endearing that she's mastered the puppy dog eyes and just can't refuse her. Finding the balance of fairness now that she's learning to use "please" unprompted. It's easier to manage at home, but when we're out I feel myself letting things go far more than I'd ever have liked. Sometimes I think I really ought to stop worrying about it. Sometimes I think I need to get a grip and remember that I'm her parent first. I'm sure this is just another of many conundrums.

Step back for a moment, and take a look. Most of the time she will sit and have her nappy changed, and she's started to ask for nappy changes sometimes. Most of the time she happily eats her dinner sat down in her highchair, even if the dogs do get some. A few dolly mixture never hurt anyone and I must continue to promote these beautiful manners she's using. Even if that means sharing my yogurt with her. She's an entertainer, a comedienne, caring little soul who has finally decided that she will call me 'mimimummy'. I can live with that. 

What a joy you are, E. What a joy you are.


  1. Sounds to me that you care such a lot about your little one that it WILL all work out fine.You are obviously thinking about how you are going to parent her and that tells me you are very much involved and wanting to the best thing. I always think the middle road is a good place to be as a parent,not too much one way or the other..a good mix.Oh and boundaries and plenty of love :-)

  2. what a really beautiful post, i think with toddlers you could spend your lifetime and theirs stressing about what they aren't doing or should be doing. I am with you and lets celebrate the bits they are getting so very right and lets celebrate the new things as and when they get here :-)

    Thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

  3. She's gorgeous! Those eyes!!! It sounds to me like you're doing a great job. And lol at her standing up on the chair to eat, ha! I know... I shouldn't laugh. But it is kind of funny. :)

    She's a doll.

    Thank you for linking up to Super Sunday Sync.

    1. Thank you, I wish I knew they came from! I know, I know... I can't ever help but giggle! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Love the pictures. Our parenting does change a bit as they change but it doesn't mean you love them any differently.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lanaya!

  5. I always think 'pick your battles'. As long as I am firm about the things that really matter (road safety, for example) then being a bit lax about the rest really isn't that much of a problem.

    Bring on the dolly mixtures!


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