Some days being a parent is like being expected to run 5 different obstacle courses simultaneously.
It’s always one step forward, three steps back.
And no matter what parenting move we might try and make in the present to please our children, it all too often ends up becoming the root cause of a wrong parenting move in the usually not too distant future.
A future that always appears to be, for some odd reason, so much further down the track than it really is.
Hidden out of sight where you can’t see it and so have no hope what so ever of making any necessary corrections in the present in order to avoid making, what will eventually become, a wrong move in the future.
After months and months of pleading, I eventually bought my daughter some inexpensive (AKA cheap) clip on hair extensions off e-bay.
She was delighted when they arrived in the mail and for a few short hours, well at least in her eyes; I could do no parenting wrong.
That was until I asked her if they came with any instructions as to how to put them in.
Which of course, being inexpensive, (okay, okay, cheap), they hadn’t come with any information of the ‘how to’ variety.
That was entirely my bad.
So instead of panicking, we found a “how to put in your clip on hair extensions’ demo on YouTube”.
We watched it together and suddenly I was back to being a wonderful parent again.
That was until I tried to actually clip the hair extensions into my daughter’s hair.
At which point she screamed loudly and them promptly expressed her opinion that I was either blind, stupid, hadn’t paid attention to the demo closely enough, or was deliberately trying to hurt her.
This of course placed me back in the worst, most stingiest parent in the world ever, camp.
Now this is the parental camp in which I usually spend weeks, months even, existing in.
If any of you have teenagers of your own I’m sure that you will be entirely familiar the place.
Apparently I only further increased my state of residence in this camp by pointing out to my daughter that if she’d tried sitting still and waiting patiently like the model in the demo had instead of wriggling about on her chair, things might now be going a bit smoother in the hair extension department than they currently were.
She of course, was very resistant my logical response and let me know about it in no uncertain but very colorful terms.
At this point I figured ‘what the hey’, seeing I was already in the bad parenting camp, I may as well make myself a cup of coffee, settle in and stay a while longer.
So I picked up all of the hair extensions that I’d so carefully laid out on the table in order of their size and appropriate application position and walked away.
Dodging her resentful gaze as I went.
Right about that time she finally realized that if she wanted her new shiny and supposedly life altering hair extensions in, that she’d have to start playing nice.
And right on cue, from out of her mouth a whole string of apologies and flattery flew toward me:
“Please mum, I didn’t mean it mum,”
“I’ll sit still this time mum,”
“I’m sorry I promise mum,”
“You’re the best mum in the world for trying.”
Yes a child’s flattery will get a mother (almost) every single time. So, after letting her know that unless she held true to her word about sitting still the whole deal would be off, I slowly laid the extensions back out on the table and we began again.
And wouldn’t you know it? This time it worked.
Her hair looked amazing and she loved it.
Status as best ever Mum in the world had been briefly regained and peace in our house had been fully restored while she spent hours (and I do mean hours) admiring herself in the mirror and sending photos of her “new amazing hair” to all of her friends.
But, and you know that there’s always going to be a but coming somewhere.
Then it came time to take the hair extensions out.
This news apparently came as a rude shock to her.
She didn’t want to take them out.
She loved them.
She wanted to wear them to school the next day so that all of her friends could see them “for real”.
I didn’t care.
Those bad boys were coming out.
Whether she liked it or not.
Once again out came the charges of “bad parenting” as her outrage at being “made to do something she didn’t want to do” bubbled and brewed while she sat unwilling on our kitchen chair as I gently and methodically unclipped her extensions one by one and laid them neatly back on the table.
After I’d finished she glared up at me and said “fine, but I’ll be waking you up at 5 in the morning to put them all back in again.”
To which I emphatically replied, “No you will not. You are not wearing those to school. They are for special occasions. Not for school.”
“But mum, you don’t understand. You’re ruining my life! I promised everyone that I would wear them to school to show them. Now everyone’s going to think I’m a liar and they are going to hate me if I don’t wear them.”
Silence on my part.
“I hate you.
You’re a bad parent.
You don’t care about me.
All you care about is yourself”.
More silence on my part.
“Okay then, I’ll wake you up at 5-30 instead”.
At this point I reminded myself to breathe.
“All right, all right, 6 AM then but that’s my final offer” she shouts as she storms out of the kitchen and stomps up the stairs to her bedroom.
Following her statement up with the obligatory teenage door slam which works as an exclamation mark for any and all parental arguments.
Ah….. Conversation over. At last. I’m going to bed. Good night.
At 6am the next morning she walks into my room with a cup of coffee ready to hand over to me.
Me, all bleary eyed and slightly confused as to why she’s up without my having to drag her out of bed, but admittedly very impressed with the whole coffee angle that she’s got going on, till I suddenly remember,
‘Oh no, those bloody hair extensions again’.
So there she is hovering menacingly over my bed, with her hands on hips when the sounds of my son beginning to stir down stairs land in my ears.
And I understand right then and there that I’m just simply not up for the same level of fight that she is.
I also know that if I’m to have any hope at all of avoiding said immanent fight, I need to get going on her hair extensions immediately so that I can have them all in place before my son (who needs help showering) requires my assistance.
More infuriatingly, she knows it too because any change in my sons routine can create untold degrees of catastrophe that have a strong tendency to rumble on throughout the entirety of his day.
So call me crazy, call me weak, call me on the fact that I’m setting a bad example for parents all over the world, but right then and there I didn’t care whether I was making the right parenting move or the wrong one, whether I was stepping forwards or stumbling back on myself.
I just wanted to get the whole hair extension nightmare that I’d unwittingly created for myself over and done with.
And amazingly the hair extensions went in quickly, with no problems at all and once again they looked fantastic and best of all I still hadn’t managed to throw my son’s daily routine out of whack.
Apparently, within the space of my daughters school day, a day which I might add I had nothing what so ever to do with, her friends had gone from telling her she looked gorgeous, to being chronically jealous.
Her glory day had turned into a stormy day and yes you guessed it, it was all my fault!
Once again I had “ruined my daughter’s life”.
Like I said, some days, parenting is like being expected to run 5 different obstacle courses all at the same time.
One step forward, three steps back.
And no matter what parenting move we might make to try and please our children in the present, it all too often ends up becoming the root cause of a wrong parenting move in the future.
Which is why I now say that the future should come complete with rear view mirrors at all times.