One thing I’ve noticed since becoming a parent is the widely-held habit of assuming that all little kids behaviour in the same way. If you read anything about young children there are so many horror stories about misdeeds, and I was genuinely braced for utter mayhem at every turn as soon as Hattie and Joe became mobile.
However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised on this front: by some stroke of ridiculous good luck we appear to have been gifted with two naturally compliant children. Of course, they have their own personal flash points and tendencies that drive their parents bananas, such as making a huge drama out of nearly every dinner time (I am so overdue to write a ranting blog post about dinner, which is officially my least favourite time of day), and they also possess a seemingly unquenchable desire to derail good times occasionally but descending into a spiral of soul-destroying whinging, because one of their arbitrary requests has not been given the green light. And don’t let’s get me started on the way they often perform when it’s time to turn the television off, because it’s nearly bedtime and I don’t want a spike in my blood pressure so late in the day.
And yes, I can fully appreciate that: a) by giving examples of Hattie and Joe’s freakish compliance I’m openly tempting the Mockers Gods to ensure that everything I’m about to say is swiftly negated with unprecedented naughtiness; and b) they may well be saving up all of their rebellion for their teenaged years. But that’s all good: there aren’t boarding preschools, but it’s a whole different ball game in ten years’ time.
Look at them laugh in that photo! They probably think I’m joking about the whole boarding school thing, bless them.
Anyway. Let’s not dwell on that, shall we? This post is for me as much as anybody else, so I can be reminded of the many ways that my children don’t drive me insane. All of the following is 100% true. And – of course – I’m not suggesting that the two of them are paragons of youthful virtue, but it’s nice to balance out all my whinging posts about their challenging behaviour with one post that celebrates the various ways that they DON’T drive me mental!
Hattie and Joe have NEVER:
- Tried to ‘decorate’ with the contents of their nappies. I’ve heard of this kind of thing going on (in fact, I’m fairly sure that my twin nieces did this during a nap when they were little), but my two have never attempted to get messy with their bodily functions. And I am extremely grateful for that, as you can imagine.
- Given us much cause to baby-proof. Admittedly, we made life easy for ourselves on this front by installing a baby gate between our living room and kitchen, and then keeping the doors to the rest of the house shut, so we didn’t have to lock the whole house down like Fort Knox. But they’ve had the run of the place for at least 18 months now, and I have never known them to get up to any mischief.
- Rummaged through kitchen or bathroom drawers or cupboards. They know that they’re there. They know how to open them. We haven’t made any great attempt to prevent them from doing so. They just don’t do it, ever – even though Joe is fascinated by my makeup (he loves watching me put it on, and is always urging more lipstick), it seems to have never occurred to him that the knows exactly where I keep it, and could access it. (Of course, we don’t push our luck with this, and things like knives and cleaning products are kept out of harm’s way).
- Messed up their bedroom. Their room has a chest of drawers full of clothes, and a wardrobe full of clothes and toys, and a big unit with square canvas drawers, and the messiest thing they’ve done is empty out soft toys.
- Snuck off to their room to jump on the beds. They might have a sneaky bounce when I’m in there, getting them dressed, but they stop as soon as I ask, and we’re yet to have them saunter off down the hall for a private trampolining session.
- Snuck off to our room to jump on the bed – even though this is a favourite activity while Mummy is getting dressed in the morning. They seem content only to do it when I’ve given them permission.
- Messed up, or rummaged through, anything in our bedroom. Joe loves trying on my shoes, and can open my wardrobe without help, but he never gets into it without asking first. And I have a little travel jewellery box that lives by the bed, and he and Hattie both love playing with it and looking at its contents (just a couple of bracelets at the moment), and also trying on the necklaces that hang on the bed post. But they never do that without me being there, and without asking first.
- Drawn on any walls or furniture. We have been quite vigilant about this, and never leave any pens where they can reach, but they’re certainly capable of finding a pen if they really wanted to do some decorating. So far they haven’t had the urge, and long may that last. Mummy would probably shout, let’s be honest.
- Getting out of bed after bedtime. Their door isn’t shut. They’re in normal beds. They would be completely capable of getting out, of course. For some reason it doesn’t seem to occur to them. I have no idea why. As I’ve written before, we made the transition to big kids’ beds fully expecting mayhem, and i was anticipating that oft-discussed phenomenon of waking up in the middle of the night to find a small child standing next to you, breathing heavily. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet.
- Deliberately broken toys or ripped books. We had a few ripped pages when they were tiny, but that through was ineptitude rather than any destructive tendencies. I have warned them that treating belongings with disrespect will result in said toy or book being given away to another child who will look after it properly, and they’ve taken me at my word. (However, we do have an occasional ‘toy thrown in anger’ issue, and the threat of giving away the toy is used for this as well). They’ve also never drawn on books, but, again, the lack of pen access has probably played a big part.
- Egged each other on to do naughty things. I thought that this was part and parcel of having twins: that they would conspire to drive you mental. Hattie and Joe do drive me mental on a regular basis, but it’s not part of a concerted twin campaign. It’s just because I’m so very tired all the time, and they’re strong willed three year olds who want to see if they can actually break Mummy.
- Disappeared out of the front door and down the driveway, or through the garden, on an adult-free adventure. We have a baby gate separating the hall from the foyer, but it’s often left open these days (which isn’t great, admittedly). And the kids can open the door, and Joe, at least, can open the garden gate. But they’ve never wandered off. They must realise that not every household has endless episodes of Bubble Guppies saved on its Sky box.
- Helped themselves to anything from the fridge or freezer. They can open them – with our permission they fetch themselves a little frozen yoghurt ice lolly for pudding each night – but they never casually browse the food options at any other time. I think they may have been scared straight by an episode of Little Monstar (a Kiwi kids’ TV programme), where our eponymous heroine helps herself to ice cream from the freezer and ends up with a sore tummy.
Of course, I could be totally deluded and they could be absolute little sods who regularly do many of the things on that list, but my au pairs have all decided to keep the news from me. If that’s the case then I’m delighted: ignorance is definitely bliss! And there’s clearly no rhyme or reason to why Hattie and Joe have both turned out to be fairly good at following rules: I mean, I’m a good rule-follower, but they don’t see much of it (beyond the ‘rules’ of our daily routine, I suppose). Could it be a genetic thing? However it’s happened, I am deeply grateful.
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