Saturday, 26 June 2010

The mummy milk bottle of menace

I have tried many child management techniques.

So I can tell you straight, I wish I had not bothered with the stickers. They were very expensive. And pointless. I think I vacuumed them up by accident.

Ditto the Miss Sunshine Happy Chart. I ripped her legs off in a temper tantrum.

And the golden stars in the fruit bowl. Squirrel ate them and was sick.

The Girl of the Day strategy was reasonably successful. But this in the end failed too. Mostly because the people running that system have to remember they are running it. Also, they must not become confused about which child is which. That is hard if all the kids run together and some of them are identical.

The oranges in the jar system worked well, for about two weeks. I like to think of that time as the period of consistent parenting. But it ended when the children took control in what I liked to call 'the self-guiding stage'. After an hour of self guiding, Shark possessed all 86 oranges and wouldn't give them back.

The pocket money idea has come and gone and come and gone again. Of course we have remunerated the children according to chores achieved and chores neglected. That system ended when I had to borrow £3.20 from Tiger, with interest, to pay Squirrel who owed Shark, who owed it back to Tiger in a system they called Protection.

I have used other methods too. In varying proportions, and sometimes combined: face pulling, finger wagging, soft and kind speaking, hair tugging (mine), eyeball-to-eyeball, threatening various punishments (going home NOW, no dinner, donating to the neighbour, selling for medical experiments), offering calm-down cuddles, frowning, screaming hysterically, weeping, tutting, looking the other way, putting fingers in ears, lifting face to sky and adopting an expression of sacred suffering (a little like the Virgin Mary), and dramatically stabbing self in left bosom and howling See poor mama's heart BLEED!

I cannot say any of these have effected much.

But recently I have adopted what is called the Mummy Milk Bottle of Menace. This expression is coined by Tiger. Which possibly shows how seriously she views this management technique. But it might have worked once.

Just for a few moments, everyone stopped fighting, and stared at me, pouring diluted red food colouring into a milk bottle on the kitchen table. I took the advantage and said the milk bottle was a metaphor for my mind, and the red colour was like a pressure inside my head. The whole is a measure of mamma's emotional health and mental well being. Quietly, I thought that was clever, because I'm showing how arguments can affect a person emotionally. So I wanted to share this idea to benefit the entire world.

You can use other bottles, obviously, if you are vegan. An empty gin bottle is a very good substitute, whether you are vegan or not.

This is how it works.

You start with a clear mind and a happy, optimistic disposition. Round here, that is usually about 8.30am, and before anyone else has come down to breakfast.

But then I hear the first argument, accompanied by howling, coming down the stairs. It is probably 9.20am. I pour a little food colour into my milk bottle.

I say that we could get out of this situation. If everyone stopped arguing, and treated each other nicely, of course I would pour out the contents, and my milk bottle would be empty again!

Or maybe there is some snarling. And a very big fight over a pencil.

When that fight dies down, I say everyone could now be calm and we could plan the day. I could have a cup of tea, and everyone would treat each other NICELY. It is maybe 9.45am.

Then there is an argument over a wind chime. With weapons.

You see? Even at this late stage, mummy is keeping all her emotions under control. She executes a variety of eyerolling, frowning, fingerwagging and soft speaking. Then merely pours her danger water into her milk bottle, while explaining how arguments can lead us to have a good day or a bad day. It is 10am.

Time for a fight involving table shoving, paper scattering, and a ruler.

I point out that my milk bottle is still not filled to the top! But IT SOON WILL BE. NOW SHUT UP EVERYBODY and mummy can pour all her red fire danger water away and we can START AGAIN. The clock ticks round to 10.10am.

And someone makes the quietest, teeniest weeniest sarcastic comment about today's milk being a bit off.


Kestrel said...

I may just start this today. I have just bought a new box of food colouring after the last one was commandeered for making volcanoes. They are all being noisy and obnoxious. I might just squirt it all over the walls.

sharon said...

Perhaps you should invest in a larger bottle - or possibly three, one for your reaction to each of the girls' behaviour?

Big mamma frog said...

I think you spend far too much time in the kitchen. Milk bottles? Food colouring? Just order takeaways.

From Mum to Mom- my year of being Canadian housewife said...

I love this post! Hilarious.
May just try it with mine. Concerned though that they may not see through my chosen bottle though - Malibu anyone?

MadameSmokinGun said...

GLASS bottles? With MY lot??

I tend to start/continue/end each day with the phrase 'And we have NOT got time for driving to casualty today so............' You can fill in the blank accordingly.

Maybe pour something more appetizing into the bottle? This may kill 2 birds with 1 stone -the emptying of the liquid leading to the calming of the mind......

Mmmmmnnn.......Maybe too much - rehab is very expensive......

Grit said...

hi folks! thank you for your comments!

because we are smug bastards, we did think of a set of five coloured milk bottles ...

there's always something to pick from the carcass.

penny dreadful said...

this sounds good- might give it a try approach at the mo is to clasp my hands to my bosom and sob: "but I gave you LIFE!"

Grit said...

hi penny! that is a great line. i'm trying it. i want eyes raised, pinked cheeks, halo, the lot.