Pushing my buttons

21:02, Oct 22 2012

I love my kids, but boy, they can make me angrier than anyone else in the world. 

They're not malicious, but their timing can be terrible. My worst buttons are things from my own childhood. My kids are not responsible for those sensitive spots, or even know about them. When I acknowledge that, I can usually see the funny side.

Here's some buttons that my kids have prodded lately...

Button: Over-dramatising

Perhaps the most perplexing example of over-dramatics happened last week. My eldest, who is seven, came home halfway through dinner. He'd been at the neighbours' place. He looked at his plate, yelled "You only cook asparagus because you hate me!  I HATE YOU TOO!" and stormed off to his room.

Actually, I cooked asparagus because I like it. I make almost all meal decisions so that they're acceptable to everyone in the household, but sometimes, just sometimes, Mum gets to choose something that she likes.  


It doesn't mean I hate you. If you don't like dinner, the standard rule applies. You have to take one bite. That's it. If you don't like it - great! More asparagus for me.

But if you shout about your dinner... you just opted to go without. There'll be no stinky pee for you. 

Button: Ingratitude

Getting my kids to tidy (or do other jobs) is often a source of irritation. It infuriates me when my eldest whines "It's not FAIR! Why do I have to do everything?!" when I ask him to pick up his toys, particularly when I'm exhausted from a long day.

Recently he complained "Why am I the only one picking up books?"

I responded "Because I'm cleaning the toilet. Want to swap?"

He didn't. Darn. At least the books got picked up without further comment.

Button: Obstinacy

My three-year-old twins are often obstinate.

"Finn, it's time to pick up your trains."

"NO! I like a giant mess!"

(Actually, this just made me laugh.)

Button: Lying

My girl twin has just worked out that it is possible for her to blame Finn for things that she has done. While he is generally the evil twin ("ha Ha HA!"), yesterday she got caught out.  

"Someone" poured a full cup of milk, put it on the computer chair, and spun the chair around. "Someone" was supposedly "Finny did it", even though it was Vieve who had milk in her hair and across her face. The fact that she was sliding back and forth in the slippery spiral of milk splatters was another subtle indication that she might be responsible.

I've navigated the blatantly lying stage before with my oldest, but it's a new experience having to determine a culprit when Finn is saying "Vieve did it" and Vieve is saying "Finn did it". This time it was obvious, but it isn't always.

We'll do our darnedest to be fair, but lying will be treated more seriously than the original event.

Button: Waste

I've written before about grocery shopping with kids. It's much more manageable these days, and serves as a terrific practical maths lesson for my seven-year-old

That said, it's still exhausting.

After our last tiring supermarket trip, I carried the boxes of groceries up our stairs, and then the grumpy three-year-olds up our stairs, then unpacked the groceries and put them away. Then I took a load of washing outside and hung it up.

When I came back inside, I found a litre of milk spilt across the kitchen floor, and handfuls of drinking straws shoved inside the now half-empty milk bottle.

Worse than that, though, worse than that... was the tomatoes.

An entire pottle of newly purchased cherry tomatoes had been carefully lined up on the kitchen floor, and then squished. Presumably "someone" was conducting a thorough experiment on the compressive properties of feet when applied to fluid-filled spheres. 

The scattered tomato seeds made delicate red trails across the kitchen floor, reminiscent of a fireworks display.

My brain was also reminiscent of a fireworks display, but I turned to my three children, who were staring at the mess, and said "You need to go outside, now." The financial waste irritated me, but I was also annoyed that I'd gone to the effort of bringing the milk and tomatoes upstairs and unpacking them!

As I mopped up milk and tomato juice, I realised something. The initial compression experiment might have been conducted with feet, but they'd decided to speed up their technique. Repeatability is a significant part of the scientific method, after all.

"Someone" had used the rocking horse in order to automate the squishing process. 

I'm still not entirely sure whether to be more horrified by the waste, or by the ingeniousness.

We all have things that we are sensitive to. What buttons do your kids push, unintentionally or otherwise?

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