This cartoon was created for my optometrist clients quite a few years ago…. The idea was that Santa needed to keep his eyes in good health or else he might not be able to distinguish the Naughty list from the Nice list.
Naughty or Nice is a relatively old-fashioned concept in this age of wimpy parenting. Indulgence and an attempt to be your child’s “friend” seem to have taken over, but it’s not working.
At Easter, I happened to be standing in a queue at a shop behind the most ineffectual mother I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Her child grabbed the largest Easter egg off a display, peeled off the foil and started to eat it.
Mother moaned and whined.
She threatened: If he did not quit eating the egg, she would not give him the better (more expensive) Easter eggs she had already bought him at a more upmarket establishment!
WOW! Great threat! A reward for bad behaviour!
Junior ignored her and continued gobbling down the egg. Mother moaned, whined and cajoled some more. Junior continued, deaf to the inconsequential non-threats. I nearly gagged on the words forming on my tongue, knocking on the back of my teeth, jostling to spew themselves all over this whiny, wimp of a woman. I have never had a more visceral reaction to a parent in my life. She was just setting herself up to be ignored in the future and setting her son up to be a horrible, horrible adult.
I am an imperfect parent with imperfect children. Perfection is an illusion. People behave badly, but all you have to do is ask yourself if this is good for the long-term. If I pick this battle will I win the manners war? If I pick this skirmish will it demonstrate that I really MEAN what I say? If I hate this behaviour I can say so, but I need to make it clear that I still love the person.
I have had a toddler actually lie down in a supermarket aisle and have a heel kicking tantrum over my refusal to buy some horrible little plastic knick-knack. It was the last time she did it because I walked away (sweating) and hid at the end of the aisle, peering around the corner to keep an eye on her, waiting for her to realise that her audience had vanished. When panic was about to set in, I reappeared and asked her is she was going to behave properly (she was). Thank goodness the supermarket was not busy and it worked. And it was not the end of the battle to bring up children who know how to be contributory members of society and not little sociopaths.
We all learn to parent by the seat of our pants. Figuring out what works as we move from toddler tantrums to teenage attitude. We fail often, we mess up, we apologise when we are wrong. What we DO NOT DO is wimp out!
My children have given me moments of sweat, anger, irritation and exasperation. Far outweighing these have been the hours of delight, pride, hilarity, love and joy.
We have always been very clear on what is Naughty and what is Nice.
Wishing everyone a non-wimpy Christmas. Mine is going to be full of imperfect, mad-cap, mostly nice, sometimes naughty, never dull, teenagers, who are not getting coal in their Christmas stockings.