We’re taught from an early age to be nice. Nice and polite and kind. I explain to Elsie and Maeve why something they said was nice, and why something they did wasn’t. As we walk out of the supermarket, I tell Elsie that she was really nice to answer the questions that our friend asked when we saw her in one of the aisles, but that she needs to remember to look people in the eye when she’s speaking to them.
So tonight I gave myself a fright when I shouted from the stove, ‘Yes. I said in a minute!’. I was looking directly into the pasta sauce and shouting a response to a five-year-old who was across the room.
Why did I think it was okay for me to speak like that, but would never let her do the same? What was I teaching her right then?
Next time I say, ‘Okay girls, race you to the bathroom,’ for our fun nightly race to the bathroom to clean teeth, what could I say to Elsie if she didn’t look up from the Lego but instead yelled, ‘Yes, in a minute!’?
(For the record, sometimes we win the race down the passage and sometimes they do, but it’s always a case of ‘pick your battles’.)
I started thinking about a recent night when our niece and nephew stayed. At tea time, they were helping our girls to make masks and were set up with scissors and paper plates and textas right in the middle of the kitchen floor, in the direct path from the stove to the fridge, the dishwasher to the cupboard, and the sink to the bin. I enjoyed that they wanted to be near me, and stepped over them many times, helping to cut out eye holes mid-dishes, finding some elastic while the gravy simmered and getting a stapler before cutting up the rest of the meat. I shudder now to think that I wouldn’t have been as nice or polite or kind had our girls been home alone with me and set up in the same place at the same time.
And that made me a little bit sad and a lot inspired to change the way I speak and act with those I love.
Sure I’m comfortable with my family and easily irritated at the end of a day, but that doesn’t give me the right to speak to them in any other tone than one I would use with someone I’d just met. From now on, I’m going to be nicer to my children than I would be to a stranger, more helpful, more friendly, more polite and more kind. I’m going to speak to them like I would if someone else was listening.
And I won’t make Maeve try on a dress I’d just finished if she doesn’t want to, just so that I can see whether it’s a good fit and to try and get a cute photo.
Speaking of that pinafore, it’s now available on the Children’s clothing page and I’m happy to make one in any of the colours that the overalls come in.
I’ve also made some cream corduroy overalls with a band around the bottom for the little babies:
And here’s some snaps from the last week or two, just to lighten the mood: