Whose agenda?

Modern liberal parents are raising modern kids, pretty liberal with their expectations. But whose agenda is it anyway?

When the babies are, well, babies, it’s entirely expected that the agenda is set by them. In those early weeks and months, it is their feeding and sleeping schedule that sets the rhythm of the newly post partum household. Which is only natural. They need a lot of calories, cuddles and snoozes to double their weight in something like 3 months. I mean, that kind of growth spurt is the baby equivalent of feeding an entire Olympic rowing team. And with their early starts, they need naps too. Then come the toddler lunchtime nap years. Depending on how free and easy you are (I’m not remotely free or easy) you either get on with life, doing whatever you’re doing with the toddler napping in the buggy on the go. Or you’re me. And the idea of napping on the go is so foreign you might as well suggest, I don’t know, I take up a spot of shark wrestling in my lunchbreak. Because that’s what I’m chasing in my regimented attachment to the at-home nap: a lunch break. A point in the day when I can sit on my own in silence and decide what to do. Or not do. It’s usually eat a sandwich, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and pootle about on social media or read something. But I got to choose it and I got to do it with two hands. Oh the joy.

Anyway, time marches on and suddenly you think, hey hang on a minute, you don’t nap; you go to school; your maths skills already rival mine; you have an advanced knowledge of English monarchs courtesy of Horrible Histories and a good line in puns, again courtesy of Horrible Histories. Why should I be constructing the agenda around you? You’re not a hungry baby needing a 3am night feed. You’re not a toddler who needs a nap. You’re not even a pre-schooler who cannot be taken out in public after 4pm for the sanity and safety of innocent passers by. Get a grip chick, you’re nearly eight so you can get on board with what’s happening, whether you like it or not.

However, with so much of my parenting and, I contend, modern middle class parenting constructed around the children, it is a hard habit to break and hard expectation for these agenda setting kids to let go.

On Friday, Eldest was Star Of The Week for challenging herself and caring about her class room environment. Could not have been more chuffed for her. As a ‘reward’ for being SOTW, the child gets to take Kyle the classroom bear home. I’m sure you know the drill: you take Kyle on your weekend adventures, photograph them, stick the photos in the collective Kyle book, the kid writes a bit about what they got up to and all us mummies get to stickybeak about what the other mummies did/ did not do with Kyle and whether we can see their kitchen in the background of the shots. No?

I had already mentally decided to print the pictures we had taken of Kyle and his adventure at our house on Monday at work. Much easier than setting up and fiddling about with our printer. Eldest had other ideas and threw a strop on Sunday night about printing them **right now** so she could stick them in the book and take it to school. I was pretty firm. I had schlepped the kids all over all weekend and come Sunday night, I wanted to sit down and eat my dinner, and eat it hot. I did not want to be faffing about with printers. Cue much wailing and pestering and, she threw at me “just because you don’t want to, that’s not a good reason”.

Huh. That right there seems to be the issue. Not wanting to isn’t enough of a reason for a parent to say no.

In the end she convinced her dad to set it up and print the pictures and, in the end, it wasn’t that much faff. But damned if I was going to.

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