My father-in-law says that the proudest and the saddest moment of his life was when his fifteen year old daughter beat him over a length in the swimming pool. I suspect that many fathers look forward to and yet dread the day when their children outstrip them.
As men, our in-built competitive streak and fragile male ego will no doubt be hurt by the “defeat” but at the same time our paternal instincts will rejoice in the success of our offspring. Well, I can safely say that with a one year old and a three year old I don’t have to worry about them outpacing me in the swimming pool quite yet but frankly they are already getting the better of me in so many other ways.
I know that there is a battle going on about who really has control of proceedings in my house. Whilst it is not open warfare, parents and children are engaged in a cold war of authority, rebellion and power-plays. We may be the ones who decided on our children’s daily routine but in reverse they are the ones that dictate what time I get up in the morning and what time I go to bed. We may plan a menu for them every week as we do our shopping that includes a balance of all the major food groups but why is it that at the end of the week all the custard and yoghurt is gone whilst we still seem to have plenty of broccoli and green beans left over?
This evening Clare and I had decided that she was going to put my son Arun to bed and I was going to do my daughter, Meri. However, had other ideas. As bedtime approached she wrapped herself around Clare’s neck and turned on the charm. As I went to take her off for her bath she let out an almighty shriek, gripped Clare tighter and started to squirm.
Clare looked at me and said, “Shall we swap? Looks like she wants me to put her to bed.”
I said, “Fine, no problem,” and reached to pick Arun up.
That was when I saw the look. She smiled at her mother with doe-eyes and then cocked a triumphant snoot at me. I knew that we had just been played and played brilliantly.
What did I do? Once we understood what she was doing, there was no way she was going to win by wailing and playing Mummy and Daddy off against one another. If we give into her now at the tender age of 15 months I can’t imagine what life will be like when she is fifteen years old.
However, I do look forward to finding out and I suspect that it won’t just be in the swimming pool that she is getting the better of me.