My job, with Miss Rose, is to raise her to be an adult who will survive, flourish, and find happiness in the world. If I only had to worry about her happiness as a child then life would be much easier and she would be given everything she wanted. But I’m playing the long game. I’m investing in her future, not the present. Her childhood is short, it will be over in a blink, and her life as an adult will stretch out before her. That is the life I am investing in.
This afternoon I gave her a pep talk. I don’t know how much she understood but, I suspect, it is more than I actually realise.
“Rose” I said, “you need to understand something. When you behave in a way that upsets other people, it doesn’t do you any favours. If you’re going to have a happy life you need to understand that other people’s feelings matter as much as your own. You have to respect people, and you have to understand that they have wants and needs as valid as your own. I want you to find friendship and love, and if you don’t respect people you won’t find either.”
The thing is, I could indulge every want and every need, and probably have quite a happy child. I could just clean up when she chucks raisins around without a word, say nothing when she smacks me, and immediately stop whatever it is I am doing because she decides she wants attention. I could. But I won’t. Because she is NOT the centre of the universe, and if she grows up truly believing that she is, then she is going to become a pretty unpleasant adult. And if you’re an unpleasant adult you will never find true friends, never find true love, and never find true happiness. Because so much happiness in adult life comes from the happiness of those around you, from being around people who love you.
So I let her tantrum, because I believe everyone has a right to express their emotions, but I don’t give her what she wants. When she chucks her snacks across the floor in a defiant manner, I tell her off and make her help clean up. When she smacks me in the face I remove her from me and refuse to cuddle her because I am hurt and she doesn’t get cuddles from people she hurts. Because she needs to learn the way to get what she wants in life is through being nice, and polite. She needs to learn social graces, and social graces seem to be lacking in a LOT of people. She also needs to learn that friendships will not last when one person constantly behaves like they rule the world, that their feelings and thoughts are more valid that everyone else’s. Hopefully by learning that if she tantrums mummy will ignore her, but if she’s sweet I will give her what she wants, and by learning that mummy has feelings too and my feelings are important, then she will be able to apply it to those around her. Thus building and maintaining genuine relationships with genuine people.
It’s a tough lesson to learn, and it’s part of parenting that I struggle with, but I do believe it is important. But it sucks. Because I hate upsetting her. Because when she cries I just want to hold her, and kiss her, and tell her everything’s okay and of course whatever the problem is I will fix it. I will ALWAYS fix it. But I won’t. Because I’m thinking of future-Rose. Current-Rose might resent it, but I hope future-Rose will respect it. Appreciate it. Because it’s not easy.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!