Daddy Diary – Boundaries and Mind-Games

The stages of your little ones’ growth are pretty fascinating to watch.

If you get the time to sit back and smell the roses that is.

Normally you’re too busy stuck in a cycle of clothes washing, drying, ironing, followed by bathtimes, breakfast time, lunchtime, playtime, dinnertime and the crucial bedtime – leaving you NO time to do anything, save collapse on the couch.

It is gruelling, but your natural resistance to such things builds over time too.

And when you do notice your kids growing up, it is with pride and sadness. Half of you can’t wait for them to shed the nappies and the god-awful sleeping routines. The other half knows that comes with them growing into something that isn’t so dependant on you. Someone that is becoming autonomous and will need you for lifts and money, but not your company.

So you try and appreciate the time you have when they bound so enthusiastically into your arms, laugh at your stupid jokes and listen to you.

Well, the majority of the time anyway.

My oldest has reached a stage where boundaries are fascinating to him. If you tell him not to do something, it is commonly followed by a blatant flouting of the rule you just uttered. It is a war of wills – and one you more often than not, lose.

Take this weekend just passed for instance. My mother has two very fine crystal vases. Sturdy things for such a dainty material, but, having broke many of my mum’s crystal collection over the years, something I’m loath to touch for fear my clumsiness gets the better of me again.

So, during a bout of playtime in the living room  – which consists of 80% of the toys in the house scattered in the living room like some rudimentary ‘Fun House’ remake – my oldest decides to tap on the vase with a plastic car.

It makes a noise, and we now have an official fan of the vase. Not for its beauty, but for its instrumental qualities.

As soon as I notice the contact, I stand up and issue the words that mean that the vase is off-limits. At the moment, when either is really naughty, they go back upstairs to bed. Neither like it, so that means it is suitable. We’ve tried other ways but they both don’t seem to mind the naughty step nor having their toys taken away.

So, my oldest looks at me as I finish giving him my stern voice – and then taps on the vase. But slowly. Methodically. Like he is baiting me.

I think they must think it is a game, so I put my hand around his wrist and usher him to me. I give him eye contact and say the words slowly. Gravely.

They now know in no uncertain terms that the vase is off-limits.

Half an hour later, inexplicably, with no warning, it happens again.

Cue bedtime for ten minutes and floods of tears.

Playtime resumes and they seem genuinely grateful to be playing with toys and not in bed.

An hour later, it happens again.

I can find no rhyme or reason why they choose to push buttons like this. There can be no doubt that they know it’s wrong – yet they continue to see how far they can push things. They want to see if there is wriggle room, but the problem is that they aren’t going to a car dealership for a second hand motor – there is no negotiations here.

And you can replace this rule with loads of others you will put in place, and the brazen little things that you produced will go and step over the lines you just drew in the sand with glee.

The grasping of speech? The walking and running? The tasting of new things, sights, sounds and smells? All things you can appreciate, sit back and enjoy.

This advancement however, is a true test and something you will gladly see the back of.

Don’t let these adorable little people fool you – the boundaries you set can’t be broken. If you allow it, then you will be broken eventually too!

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