Friday, 24 July 2020

I wanna be like you

There seems to be an ongoing challenge between Jason and I to see who can squeeze the last bit of rubbish into the kitchen bin before the lid won’t shut anymore. Loser has to empty. Anyway, I was the loser emptying the bin this time and of course the bag split as I was picking it up, why wouldn’t it. I shouted SHIT because that’s the magic word to undo any annoying thing that happens and I instantly heard an echo from the other room.
I listened as River shouted “SIT! SIIIIIIT PIPPIN!” 
“Yes pippin, SIT!” I repeated to the perplexed face of a dog lying on the floor minding his own business. 

I’ve reached a stage where I’m becoming very conscious of the example I’m setting for River. I mean, thank Christ he misheard the swearing but it’s not just that. What I say, my mood, my opinions, my actions, my reactions, my attitude, my eating habits, my humour - it’s all being sucked up like a giant human shaped sponge by my son and it’s making him who he is. So I know that I better make it good. 

My behaviour when I’m happy, frustrated, angry, upset or annoyed is mirrored so precisely by River when he is in those moods. It’s made me extremely conscious of what I’m portraying to him. 
When he’s begged for toast and we’ve made the toast and cut it just as he’s requested the toast to be cut and then suddenly, for some unknown reason the toast is OFFENDING him to the point of tears and he wants the toast removed instantly, my gut reaction is frustration and getting stroppy. Then I realise, not only is it beyond ridiculous for a grown woman to angrily confront a tiny human man about a piece of toast that he may or may not want; it’s also showing him that small inconveniences are something to get in a strop about and that’s just not what I want him exposed to. If I want him to be a well-rounded, positive, well mannered, tolerant and understanding person, then I need to be that person to him, regardless of his toast saga. 

Now that he’s approaching 3 (*sobs*) he’s so aware of what’s going on around him and he picks up on almost everything Jason and I say and do. Our habits have become his habits so we try really hard to make sure that we set a good example. 
For instance, the thought of staying in, watching tv and eating copious amounts of biscuits sounds like an absolute dream, but it can’t become a habit or you’ll end up on a channel 5 documentary because they’ve had to take your patio doors off to get you to a doctors appointment. 

I’m forever doing puzzles with him that bore the shit out of me, reading books to him that I’ve read 200 times over, role playing the same scene from fireman Sam where Norman is in trouble over and over (River hangs head first over the back of the sofa and you have to ‘rescue’ him from his deadly fate. It’s morbid) Obviously it’s lovely to do stuff and play with him but I wouldn’t say I treasure EVERY second of it. But I know that it’s important to engage and show enthusiasm and teach him the skills he needs to play and learn. Parenting is a lot of fun but it’s also a responsibility and I feel like, if you aren’t going to honour that responsibility and do your best to guide your kid and help them grow and be the best they can be, then put yourself in the bin, because they deserve more than that. 

We try our best to promote a healthy, active lifestyle that River can enjoy and continue to enjoy into his adult life and he definitely loves it so much. But he wasn’t born loving long walks and exploring different places, he was taught to find enjoyment outdoors by seeing us enjoy it. It's not always the easiest, some days it’s a real effort. When you’re walking up the beacon on the hottest of hot days, sweating your tits off and trying to control a dog who’s acting like he’s never been outdoors before (he’s cute but he’s an honest fucking nightmare. Golden angel for Jase though, of course. Something to do with my tone apparently? Crock of shit, he just plays mind games with me) feigning enthusiasm for that is a stretch. But it’s possible and also, at the risk of sounding like I’m about to plug a fitness DVD, exercise has such a profoundly positive effect on our mood. Even my most dogshit day can be turned around by a walk in the fields with the boys (yes, even the sociopathic terrier) and being outdoors makes River so content. He asks to play in the garden as soon as he wakes up, whatever the weather, he loves it.
We're the same with food really. We want River to enjoy healthy food and so we need to set the example of making and enjoying healthy food ourselves. Watching River chow down on raw mushrooms when I've left him in charge of the chopping gives me a nervous twitch, but I power through it because I know its important he's involved and is taking an interest in good food; even if that means half of the ingredients don't even get in the pan.

Jason’s doing really well on the ‘set a good example’ front with his exercise. He’s shown real commitment and is properly enjoying running. I imagine it all started as a desperate attempt to get away from me constantly nagging at him for leaving damp towels on the floor or scattering used contact lenses around the house like a fucking breadcrumb trail to get him and Gretel back home (he is lovely really, I don’t nag that much) But I’m so proud of him for focusing on his health and setting such a good example for River. This is the most that I will compliment Jason in public and I’m sure he’s going to dine out on it for a while. I’m gonna go back to moaning about his annoying habits from here on. Is mercury in retrograde? Is it a full moon? Somethings off and I’m not enjoying this soppy side of me. 

Anyway. My whole point with this ramble is just to say that bringing up these creatures that escape your womb is a real challenge from the second they are born. Every stage has its triumphs and others can feel like utter failure, but you will never be a failure if the effort to do your best is there. I didn’t want this post to end so seriously so I’ll have another dig about Jason - he leaves empty yogurt pots next to the washing up pile, it’ll be the absolute death of me. He really doesn’t want to empty the bin does he. 


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