There are two words that husband uses all the time that makes me want to shake with rage.
Hardly the most offensive words in the English language, but they make me want to slam his head into the closest hard surface as banging my own head against the wall hasn’t worked.
The problem is that every time he uses them they’re followed by a parenting suggestion. A suggestion that only works in an ideal world. ‘We should get Noodles to sleep earlier.’ ‘We should make Boo do her homework as soon as she gets in from school.’ ‘We should have the children eat the same food as us.’
That and the fact that when he says ‘We should’ what he really means is that I should.
He’ll sit at the computer in the corner of the lounge, completely disengaged from the family, and make his suggestions as chaos rules around. Never mind the practicality of his suggestions. Whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough and I should be doing things better.
Now, I’m a realist. It would be great if everything happened as it should. But I also accept that striving for perfection only leads to disappointment. I haven’t got the energy to make everything run like clockwork. I pick my battles carefully. Putting Noodles to bed before he’s ready doesn’t get me my evenings back; it means I spend them in a darkened room trying to get him to settle down. Getting Boo to hit the books straight after 6 hours at school is only going to turn her off learning. As long as things are done on time, let her play, let her completely zone out in front of the TV. There are days when I’m happy if Noodles has eaten anything other than bananas and chocolate. If it’s a couple of fish fingers rather than seafood pasta so be it.
Today I’ve had ‘We should potty train Noodles,’ and ‘We should make sure Noodles gets more protein.’ Even though he never changes the nappies, wouldn’t be the one mopping up puddles and constantly changing and washing clothes. He never helps at mealtimes. He didn’t even register the ham sandwich Noodles had for lunch.
If he was willing to do the hard work to implement his suggestions fair enough. Perhaps then he’d realise that families don’t work perfectly, that we have to let things slide a bit. That you can either fight to make something happen or wait until a child is ready to choose for themselves to do something. and that the latter option makes for a happier experience.
My own personal ‘We should’: ‘we should keep our suggestions to ourselves unless we’re willing to be part of the process of change. And by ‘we’I really mean ‘him’.