That’s it! Your foot’s nearly in. Well done. Now if you just push down a bit and I grab the top of your welly. No, I know you don’t need any help. You’re a big girl now, aren’t you? But your heel’s a bit stuck. If I just pull it from th…No! What are you doing? Don’t take it off!
Okay, let’s go again. Fifth time lucky.
This is a scenario acted out upwards of 40 times a day in our house right now. Getting your leggings on, putting your brolly up, climbing onto (or into) the toilet, squeezing shaving foam into the bath. The list of tasks which must be carried out according to strict yet unfathomable protocol is endless. Where help is grudgingly authorised, the chances of a stupid grown-up doing it right are slim to none. And most actions, of course, should be completed unaided. If polluted by parental interference, they MUST begin again.
I dawdled as a child. I remember it well. I can almost hear my mum imploring me to get a move on and I remember thinking, ‘Nah. I’m not gonna do that. I’m okay as I am, thanks. I’m enjoying lining these buttons up on my sleeve.’ My reluctance to move led to a world of infuriating waiting for my mum and I didn’t feel a second of her pain back then. Only now that I’ve got a wilful dawdler of my own do I understand the agony of hanging around patiently on a work morning while a two-year-old examines gravel or body-boards on a low wall as she tries to climb up.
But that stuff, though testing, is tolerable. It’s Maya’s fierce insistence on starting a thing from scratch at the slightest offer of help that makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a pontipine. Even worse, her headstrong drive to do it the wrong way again after fourteen failed attempts. If you turn that lid anti-clockwise sausage, it is just not gonna screw up. Even if you try a hundred times. We’ve got to be at the doctor’s in ten minutes and I don’t think an imperfect grasp of thread mechanisms will wash as an excuse for showing up late.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Maya wants to learn. I stand back so she can. But sweet Jesus. Watching those tights come back off for a fourth time and not being permitted to twist the gusset into the right position is murder.
Time has warped and slowed and I am gritting my teeth so hard to hold back that a crown is coming loose. Witnessing this futile repetition is like looking over the shoulder of a technophobe while they tap-tap-tap the delete key to undo six lines of text and knowing you’re not allowed to push them out the way and take over. If she doesn’t crack it soon I’m in danger of giving myself a black eye for the fun of it.
Anyway. Never mind. Rant over. Pressure released. I’m off to collect the capable one. Quick note to self, though: do not offer leg up into car.