23 Oct A Week of Imaggling: Or 5 days of trying to get a four-year-old out of the door
In parenting, as in many things, there are good weeks and bad weeks. Most of the good weeks occur when at least 33% of the week is spent with someone else in charge, but I’m going to assume that’s not my fault, and is only because it makes Mummy seem a lot nicer in comparison…
During the bad weeks, getting OUT OF THE DARN DOOR seems to be about as incredible an achievement as World Peace – and has similar levels of achievability. Being a slightly scatty parent doesn’t help, as any potential delay whilst I find something is seized on to return to the incredibly important activity of Building A Castle/Crane/Forklift/Nest/Dungeon (that last one only happens on the reaaaallllly bad days, and may come from my suggestions…).
But I suppose scatty, arty type parents have a few weapons in their armoury. More and more I find myself “Imaggling” – or more comprehensively, imaginary haggling. And just because most of it is made-up, it doesn’t make it any less serious. This particular week, imaggling turned out to be just about the greatest challenge ever.
We both overslept. The morning did not start well with the realisation that I had also failed to put all the laundry into the dryer, necessitating a delay. Rufus, of course, did not want to get dressed. Naturally, he was encased in sofa-cushions and shouting at me to put a duvet on top. So this occurred.
Me: Oh no! You’ve gone completely invisible! I can’t see you!
R: (poking his head out) Have I?
Me: Yes, I can only hear your voice! Which means I can’t give you any chocolate-banana-bagel and milkshake! I’ll have to put them away…
R: I want them!
Me: Well if you got your clothes on, I’d be able to see you, wouldn’t I?
Time to get clothes on: 4.5 minutes. And breakfast went down pretty quickly too…
We were actually up in good time. I made the mistake of mentioning this, so R declared he was going to play for AGES and then said he didn’t want to go to nursery. (It’s funny how this only ever lasts until he gets there and realises how much fun his friends are having.)
Me: Let’s have a competition. I bet I can get my clothes on before you can get your clothes on. Now let me see…
(I pick up his trousers)
R: (outraged) No!! Those are my trousers!
Me: Really? I thought they were mine…
R: No! Look!
R pretty quickly puts them on, and by the same method, we went through ALL the clothes.
Time to get clothes on: 6 minutes.
A slightly sleepy day for R. I could tell this by the fact that he went downstairs and immediately made a snuggly nest on the sofa.
Me: Are you going to get dressed?
R: No. I’m a leopard.
Me: Helpful, thanks. Leopards still eat, though. You could have breakfast.
R: They don’t eat cereal.
(After getting and demolishing my own breakfast)
Me: Quickly, baby leopard! Hide! There’s a mean leopard coming!!
Cue bundling into the “nest” with him and hiding under a snuggle-sack.
Me: We’ll have to escape! The only way we can do it is to camouflage ourselves. I have some camouflage fur to put on. Would you like it…?
Time to get dressed: 9 minutes.
R had started to get wise to the imaggling, and declared when I asked him to get dressed that he “didn’t want to, and didn’t want a competition.” No – he just wanted to play. Naturally.
Having handed him his socks, I suddenly turn and “fell” out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
Me: Arrggghhh!!! There’s a magical spell pushing me away! You’ll have to get your magic socks on to bring me back.
R: They aren’t magic socks.
Me: Well, I’m upstairs, and if you putting your socks on brings me back downstairs in a second, then doesn’t that make them pretty magic…?
(Pause for consideration)
R: I’ve got one magic sock on! But now I’ve got a magic lever that pushes you away…
Time to get dressed: 19 minutes. And I thought it was such a good one, too…
We had a train to catch. This is one of the things I hate, and usually means getting up about 2.5 hours earlier than I would ever think to allow for in order to make the train. Tetchiness was therefore high all round, and I ended up manhandling R into his clothes whilst he said “No! I don’t want to! I’m playing! Stop it!” and refused every possible offer of food.
It was therefore only on the train when I got to the imaggling bit – and we did make the train, in spite of his best efforts. About half an hour into the journey, R had been disgusting the other passengers by drawing pictures of pretty much anything you could think of “with poo coming out of it.”
In the end, I suggested that he’d drawn enough.
R: No! I’m busy!
Me: What about a story?
R: All right. You tell me a story.
Me: OK. How about a story about you and one of your friends?
R: Yes! About us playing.
(Now I never let the chance of a good story-telling go. Morals learned in no faster way and all that. And quite fed up of the words “no” and “poo,” I knew just where this one was going…)
Me: Once upon a time, a boy and a girl were playing in a garden. In a corner they had never been to before, they found a funny-looking little man with a beard. The boy went up to him and said “Poo!” and they all laughed, except the man. Who said, “I’ll teach you!” and with a flick of his hand and an evil chuckle, he vanished. It turned out he’d taken the children’s nice words with him, and they learned pretty quickly that nobody liked them very much when they could only say nasty words…
(I won’t write the whole story here – but naturally it became an epic journey into another land, and thanks to some R involvement, also included slack-lining across a river, a flute that turned us into giraffes, and lego bricks made out of wood.
R got quite into it, and to my mild surprise, so did many of the passengers on the train. I’d expected them to ask us to be quiet, but instead, the next few rows started listening in. Possibly just fascinated by the signs of two unstable minds.
Anyway, at the end of the story, they got their nice words back, and then everyone liked them. I’ve honestly never had so many “pleases” and “thank yous” for the rest of a day.
Time to get dressed: Probably not applicable. But 25 minutes of a train journey killed and politeness at the end makes that one a win in my eyes.
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