Childrearing

My Kids Don’t Trust My Authority

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parent authoritySometimes I feel as if I just can’t win. When I’m with my own parents, I’m a 40-year-old kid, inexperienced, unwise and not to be trusted. I help my mom in the kitchen and she critiques my chopping skills. I offer to give my dad a lift and he refuses to let me get behind the wheel. And god forbid I suggest a different route for getting to Point B. Even if it halves our driving time, I’m reminded that father knows best.

Well if that’s the truth for mothers as well, my kids haven’t got the memo. Because far from being gospel, my word these days is worth less than a Chupa Chup lollipop dropped in a sandbox. Though I’m likely not the first mother to be taken for granted while her partner gets all the glory, it still stings when a bulb burns out and I’m told (by my 3-year-old, no less) that I’d better wait for Daddy to come home, because only he can wizard a new one in place. Apparently the punchline to “How many mothers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” is “None.”

Once upon a time a mother could cure all that ails her baby with a kiss and a kind word. But when my daughter started waking in the night complaining of aching legs, no amount of reassurance from me (nor the kiddie Tylenol I slipped her) would ease her pain. The waking went on for weeks, until I dragged her along to my doctor and gave him her spiel. He shrugged and told us – as I had a dozen times before – that it was nothing serious, probably just growing pains. She hasn’t woken since.

Knock wood.

Then, last week, my daughter’s impish playmate convinced herself, along with my daughter, that there was a pirate hiding in the house. For two hours they cowered by my side, refusing to let me out of their sight, even when nature called – even after I swore up and down they were safe, the house was in lockdown and that no pirates were ever known to case our quaint little north London community. They wouldn’t listen, and I couldn’t shake them off my leg. Until my husband came home and with a single raised eyebrow it was over.

Even our sitter has more clout than me. I can talk up a new toy better than a Sunday-morning ad and it will sit in a corner untouched. Only once the sitter has christened it can it be deemed acceptable.

Am I that deeply uncool? Or am I so ubiquitous in their lives that they see right through me? Either way, I think toddlerhood is a bit young to lose faith in your dear old mum.

I certainly never imagined there would come a day my speech would start to resemble the adults in those old animated Charlie Brown features: Wah waaah wuh wah wah waaaaah. Alas, it’s come to that.

Oh brother.