Leading by shoddy example

This cool post by Jess at Wonderoak got me thinking about the things I’ve taught my own daughter without meaning to.

Maya thinks and does all manner of stuff that I’m pretty sure she picked up from me when my guard was down (any time outside enthusiastic coffee hour). It’s textbook copycat business.

Here is some of her wonky and undesigned learning, good and bad and in no particular order:

  • Spaghetti with tomato purée is a valid dinner, best enjoyed frequently.

    If it looks like dinner and Mummy’s telling you it’s dinner…
  • It’s okay to finish off your main course after you’ve eaten your pudding. Unless you’ve had mackerel followed by creme brulee. Then it’s just wrong.
  • Say sorry and thank you, even if it makes you squirm.
  • If someone kindly offers to cook you some tea, say no but help yourself to most of theirs once it’s on their plate and smelling delicious.
  • It’s better to kick the hoover than kick a person.

    Fair game
  • It’s fine not to answer someone as long as you’re staring at a screen.
  • It’s okay to be a bellend if you’re tired.
  • Birdsong is cool and can make you smile and break your heart all at once.

    This kid will kill you, baby
  • Spiders are more scared of you than you are of them but wasps can fuck right off.
  • If you eat enough jammie dodgers and cheese strings while you’re deciding what to have for dinner, you won’t need dinner anymore. Problem solved.

    Nutritious and filling
  • Other languages are fun (and sometimes contain words that sound rude – Poubelle…pppfff!)
  • Idiot is a horrible word and totally banned. Except when you’re in the car.
  • Shampoo, bubble bath and shower gel are interchangeable and can be used to wash the dishes in emergencies (but never wash your hair with Fairy Liquid).

    Are you sure you guys aren’t related?
  • Dressing gowns are daywear.
  • When you’re about to leave the house, it’s fun to up everyone’s stress levels by remembering five urgent jobs you need to do (or simply fancy doing). If anyone protests, go deaf for a bit.
  • Eat apples.
  • Don’t eat apples you can only see one side of unless you like the taste of apple grub.
  • Get one thing out to play with. Focus on it for 14 seconds, then get another thing out. Half way through that, remember that other thing you love and get that out as well. Move to another room and repeat.
  • You’re allowed to go to bed in the top you’ve been wearing all day. You can even wear it the next day if you’re enjoying it (but only if nobody outside your household knows you kept it on all night. And definitely give it a quick blast of eau de toilette, you filthy bastard).

    Adorable, but not strictly necessary.
  • Get excited about a project but feel free to run out of steam well before you see it through to fruition, Then, when people ask you about it, say ‘Oh yeah that thing. I was never really into that.’
  • Trousers are good for wiping things on. Sometimes even bogies.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, have a massive tantrum at the person who’s trying to help you, especially if they’re immediate family.
  • Eat what you like in the car, as long as you don’t tell Daddy.

I didn’t teach Maya any of this on purpose. But like Jess, I’m guessing it will shape my child much more than all my unsolicited monologues put together.

Who cares how much fun it’s meant to be to share your favourite food? You know and Mummy knows that it’s much more enjoyable to sneak to the fridge and polish off the last of the salted caramel chocolate, then flatly deny you even knew it was there.

Show beats tell every time.

Onwards and upwards child-rearers. You shall never win this game. Unless you’re perfect, of course. And if you think you’re that, you’re probably raising a psychopath.


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