I just CAN'T



We jump on to the bus to school and once we are sat down, the first thing Seb wants to do is play 'I Spy With My Little Eye'; but it's 8:32am and I have an itch on my brain already, from cajoling two children into weather appropriate clothing.

My patience has been thoroughly tested, and I've already had to talk him out of taking a handheld fan with him 'for the walk'; it's mid-January. I've watched him deliberately put his shoes on the wrong feet because he wanted to wear slippers instead. I feel "end of the day" tired and we haven't been out of the house any more than ten minutes.

I think I'm a good Mum. I find myself lacking in many areas of life, but I'm not kept up at night worrying about my parenting. Seb is clever, intimidatingly so at times. He is head strong, and can be bullish, but is also so so sensitive, and what I refer to as "a young five". He, like most young children, has a tireless need for affection, stimulation and reward.

"I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with Q... And it's peach." He says, looking at me expectantly. 

"Quinn?" I respond with a vapid lack of enthusiasm. And that is how it goes on for a short while.

"I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with C... And its blue, orange, black and white."

"Coat?"

Eventually I tell him we have to stop the game as it annoys other people on the bus. Actually it just annoys me, but I like to project my lack of patience on to strangers rather than face up to it myself.

Quinn is squirming and whinging in the carrier strapped to my chest, so I stand in an attempt to make her more comfortable.

Seb stands.

"Sit down in your seat please." I say.

"Why, you're not?" And today I really can't be arsed to discuss safety on public transport, or why he has to listen rather than imitate, or what gives me the 'right' to hold a position of authority over him.
"Just sit down." I say.

Half way through our journey, Seb takes out his school reading book. We have read it together at home, although I didn't get time to leave any comments in the 'Reading Record', and Seb uses this as evidence to support his insistence that we have not read it at all. 

I want him to love reading, I want him to enjoy books, and together, at home, we read endlessly to one another; but this morning, with this book (it's a Biff, Chip and Kipper dull-fest) I have lost all interest. He struggles with the word "It's" - a three letter word, and I hear myself groan. I try to explain that the letter I is only a pronoun if it stands alone, the rest of the time it's just the letter 'i' - but I think he knows my heart isn't in the lesson.

We reach our stop.

It occurs to me that I need to reboot. This morning has left me tired and unresponsive, when in fact he's been nothing but sweet, inquisitive and interactive. I promise, to myself, to be better this afternoon. I need take a break from the unrelenting questions, the challenges of caring for a 5 year old, even a lovely one.

The baby has fallen asleep, and I kiss Seb and ruffle his hair, waving him into school, and accepting that I feel relieved to have the opportunity now to breathe, drink coffee, and try again in six hours.

Seb is an easy child to love, and easy to live with. He doesn't want for very much at all, and as his Mother, I love him unconditionally. These days are rare and I'm always left hoping that he hasn't picked up on my struggles - that he doesn't wonder if he's bad, or believe that I am.

Sometimes I think I share a lot more insight into my parenting experience with a small baby - and we all know how difficult that can be at times - but as children grow, that desire, and almost certain failure, to be a perfect parent, doesn't really go anywhere.

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