It’s been 10 years since I last yelled parade square commands above the blare of a military band, but your stomach muscles never forget…
…and my neighbours won’t forget being awoken to me roaring at Maxi and Midi Minxes this morning. If you’re reading this <adopts lovely David Tennant’s Dr Who’s worried meerkat look and tone>: “I’m sorry; I’m so, so sorry”.
I’m trying to give the minxes a little more leeway and stop being so over-cautious and controlling. I’m really, really trying. I’m better with scissors and glue and mess in general. I still need to work on the outdoor stuff. So instead of parking Midi and Mini in the double buggy so I can completely ensure Maxi is safe on that road with the speeding, sleepy drivers dodging the 70 or 80 bin-lorries*, I let all 3 walk to school. Well, I put Mini in her lovely pink carmin fish wrap up on my back for the way down, so she could walk back, and let Midi and Maxi chase about but with the exhortation that they hold hands.
*OK, I exaggerate -it’s only 3 or 4. But we only live in a little village!
Everything was going well, until I suddenly noticed both girls racing down the hill, getting out of shouting distance. They were about 20 yards apart, and more than that distance away from me. They didn’t look like they were at all aware of all the driveways they were crossing, or the little cul-de-sac roads they were pounding across. Most mums would let them get on with it, I know, but not me. Yet. I’m haunted still at seeing both of them in the past for no clear reason merrily veer from running in a safe straight line suddenly to running on the main road in front of cars, distillery lorries and buses. So I yelled at them to stop. Both twitched, so they heard me, but chose to ignore and kept running. So I yelled again. Louder. With a ‘STOP!’ command. Nothing.
This time I really let rip. Proper deep wake-the-dozing neighbours belly roar. Then ran down to them, with Mini wobbling about on my back. I scolded both, explained why I was angry and told them not to ignore me yelling again. I explained in baby terms that freedom from the tyranny of Mummy always holding their hands in front of their friends only came at the price of being able to trust them to listen to and obey me. Midi rolled her eyes, Maxi burst into tears.
Cue enormous Mummy Guilt. It wasn’t really Maxi I was angry with, I suppose. She’ll stop for a big road maybe 80% of the time. But I had to stop her running on because Midi follows and copies her. And Midi has a 0% compliance rate for stopping at road junctions. Had I just shouted on Midi, she’d just have followed Maxi running on, regardless. I explained this to Maxi while I cuddled her. She cried big, fat, hurt-feelings tears. Every drop compounded my guilt at not dealing with the situation at all well.
I tried another tactic. I reminded them both about stopping for roads. Then breezed, “Come on, let’s race and catch your friends up!” Maxi set off with a smile, Midi followed, one eye on her sister. Maxi reliably stopped a foot from the kerb of the next little road; as I’d thought, Midi ran straight across without looking (I’d already checked it was safe before setting my little test). There. Evidence as to why the girls had to do what I said. Maxi cheered up at the copious praise I heaped on her little head; Midi just rolled her eyes. Again. Mini stroked my sore (still-blistered and scabby) head.
In the playground, Maxi went racing up to her favourite P7. I guess M has finally gotten fed up of a little P1 constantly mooning around after her and jumping and clinging on to her neck – M barely said hello then went lolloping over to play with her own friends. Poor Maxi looked so crestfallen and hurt. I gave her a huge cuddle and kiss, explaining yet again that big girls like to play with other big girls. As ever, I tried to encourage her to play with her own classmates, but she has always preferred to try to mix with older kids. My heart hurt for her. A lovely P6 girl, B, who Maxi also adores, kindly took her by the hand and led her away to play something else.
I guess today hasn’t started well for my biggest-little girl; I hope it gets better for her.