I am constantly on at the Blonde Bombshell to speak nicely to me. My catch phrase at the moment is: 'if you wouldn't say that to Mrs E [her pre-primary teacher] then don't say it to me'.
Don't roll your eyes at me.
Don't growl at your sister.
Stop telling me you're bored. You have no idea what bored even means.
Leave her alone!
Which part of 'No' don't you understand?
Then, the other morning before school, after what felt like hours of my asking the girls to do X and they were doing Y, I yelled at them.
The Bombshell turned to me, and very clearly (and politely) said 'Mum, if you want us to listen to you, use your normal voice and speak nicely.'
Of course, she was merely parroting what I had been saying to her for the past year or three, but it suddenly occurred to me that I say things to my children that I would never say to another adult. Because it would be rude. Or impolite.
But I say it to my children, who I love - it's fair to say - more than any adult on this planet.
It's embarrassing to admit this, because it has taken me five years to figure out. But I give my kids verbal lashings of frustration, sarcasm, and directness to the point of rudeness that I would die before dishing out to even a well-deserving adult.
What is wrong with me?
I constantly berate the Bombshell for the fact that she behaves so well at school, at Grandma's and at friend's houses, yet she comes home to me where she suddenly transforms into a bossy/smarmy/cheeky/irritating/deaf/out-right rude five-going-on-fifteen year old.
'Why?' I appealed to her one day. 'Why are you so good for other people, but then you are so mean to me?'
She looked at me and told me: 'Because I don't have to live with them.'
At the time, I didn't quite understand her response. But I get it now. She does exactly what I do. Saves up all the frustration and boredom and smart-arse comments that she probably wishes she could freely express all day, then comes home to the one person she knows she can trust, and lays it on thick. A big nasty, verbal and attitude diarrhoea.
Because she knows that I will always love her, and I know she will always forgive me.
But she shouldn't have to.
So, added to my 'essentials list' of:
- write 100 words of my novel every day
- use sunscreen every day
- don't eat more than half a bag of lollies in a single sitting
I will add: if I wouldn't say it to Mrs E, then don't say it my kids.
Because it's actually me they're learning from.