A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when I was round and swollen with child and hormones and cravings and total, absolute, blinding naivety to what being a parent would be like in real life I would tease the husband about how I would be good cop. I wanted to be the nice one that gave out the cuddles and the kisses and got a the fun, frankly, while he would forever be the threat of discipline – don’t make me call your dad, wait till your father gets home, do I need to let your dad know what you’ve been up to – and therefore be the giver of punishment.
A few weeks ago something happened. Something strange and scary and unexpected that chilled me to the bone. How it has not happened until now is a reflection in part on how far removed I have been from the whole full time parenting lark but also on the markedly different way that Beans behaves depending on who she is with. By this I mean how Beans behaves impeccably 95% of the time with me and about 0.05% of the time when she is with her daddy. This could be because I am more lenient or because I just way more super fun-er-er. The jury is still out.
Anyway…The sun was shining and me and Beans were outside in the garden being silly and chasing each other. All of a sudden she stopped in the middle of a hoppy, skippy, toddlery stride and zoned in on a particularly big particularly pink flower in the beds next to the path. I could practically hear her thoughts. They mainly consisted of ‘ooooooooooh. OOOOOOOOH!‘ and ‘mine‘ while her eyes glinted and her hand twitched before her fingers unfurled and slowly, slowly, reached out to grasp the delicate petals.
No! I say in my sternest voice, a little tip I remember from watching Supernanny years ago. I frown. We don’t pick grandads flowers. Don’t touch. Beans puts her hands behind her back and looks down at the floor, her ‘my bad, sorry’ pose makes me immensely proud. Good girl, thank you for listening to me. She looks up, she grins and then in a flash that sparkle is back and her arm darts out and her hand is around the whole flower and pull. FFS.
I kneel down and tell her to look at me while I give the you have been bad and this is why and this is why you don’t do things like that speech while in my head I’m bracing myself because I know that it’s going to be me in the shit when grandad gets back to a flowerless stem.
Beans wonders off to dig some sand in her sandpit with her spoon (the spade is too big for delicate work) and I dispose of the flowery evidence over the garden wall and hope all is forgotten.
Five minutes later that spoon comes sailing past my head, narrowly missing giving me a black eye. Another stern no and we’re back to building castles and smashing them down again.
Another five minutes pass without event until all of a sudden bad behaviour comes like rapid gunfire. I’m not used to this. It’s true and I have no idea why but I really do rarely have to tell Beans off, generally she gets one no a day from me, usually for something dangerous (no darling, jumping head first off that chair would be quite silly and will make you cry and mummy wee her pants in fear at the sight of your little legs flying up in the air) whereas the husband is fairly frequently battling with her strong will. I know, I hear the arguments and they’re pretty amusing when in one corner there is a frazzled daddy and in the other is a determined, stubborn toddler with a handful of words (none relevant), immense willpower and a big loud shout.
BANG! I’m going to throw everything in my path and I’m going to throw them at you mummy. At your head.
BANG! I’m going to run over here and throw a few handfuls of sand while you try to catch me.
BANG! I’m going to pick this flower now. And this one. And this one.
I catch up with her, little cowbag, grinning at me because she knows exactly what she’s up to and that I twisted my ankle jumping over a potted hydrangea to get to her, I open my mouth and launch into a tirade of no’s. I really was quite angry. Holding her shoulders and looking into her eyes I tell her she’s being very naughty and no and it’s not nice to do those things and no.
Only it’s like I’ve been possessed by the spirt of someone else because that angry grown up voice isn’t mine. I’m the one who giggles when someone’s doing the telling off. This role reversal is weird.
Oh my god I am my mother.
BANG! She picks another flower.
Little bugger. Right, mummy told you no. Do you want me to have to take you inside?
Fatal error *adds do not include questions in a cross rant because they backfire to my ‘how to be a mum’ notebook*. Beans drops the sad looking flower head to the ground looks up at me sweetly from under her eyelashes. ‘Yes’ she smiles and points at the back door.
She takes my hand and leads me inside, points at the TV and announces ‘BEEBIES’ (CBeebies) at me in her most authoritative tone before plonking herself down on a cushion on the floor crossing her legs at the ankle sweetly and looking at me expectantly.
Whatevs kid. You win.