Sunday 11 January 2009

My little moonchild

'You get the kids your deserve" runs the old adage, but I'm never quite sure what it means.
Does it mean that if you are an exemplary parent, you get exemplary children? Or does it mean that if you were a little bastard as child, then your children will be little bastards as well, as a kind of karmic revenge for your childhood unpleasantness?
Nobody seems too sure on this, which is surprising, because from almost the moment of conception it seems there are no end of people rushing to offer you unrequested advice on how you should bring your children up, what they would do differently (by which, of course, they mean what they would do better) and what your own specific failings as a parent are. Some also seem to think that by having sired offspring of their own, it gives them an insight into your own children that is somehow better than the 24/7 love, care and concern that you yourself provide. (Perhaps the most stunning example of this was the women who came over to me while I was shopping and told me I was mispronouncing my own daughters name - an act of such brazen effrontery that I was lost for words for a few seconds before pointing that actually, no, after some consideration I was pretty sure I'd got it right, what with me being the one who named her and everything...)
But I digress, and here is where all this is leading: my eldest daughter will not stop mooning me. So if you really do 'get the kids you deserve', I think something has gone wrong, because neither interpretation makes sense: I certainly don't lead by example in this regard, and I'm told I was an insular, prudish child who not only kept his bottom in his trousers at all time but did his best to avoid other people all together, preferring instead the company of either a good book or my extensive selection of original Star Wars figures. Why then, when I'm lying on the sofa on a Sunday morning, does my four-year old think it hilarious to take off her pyjamas and block my view of the television almost completely with her backside?
"Don't do that" I say.
"Bottom", she says, just in case I'd missed the point.
"Put it away" I say.
She wiggles it at me. "Bottom" she repeats.
"Bottom" confirms her sister, watching this performance and nodding.
I flail at the offending article with a cushion, but to no avail. I could actually throw cushions, but past experience tells me that (a) she will find this uncontrollably funny and (b) I will run out of spare cushions long before she runs out of spare bottom.
"Bottom" she taunts. "Bottom. Bot-bot."
"If you keep this up," I warn, "I will write about this on the Internet so that all your friends can read about it when you are a teenager."
"Bot-bot. Bottom."
"There will be a boy you like." I say. "And when you bring him round for tea, I shall sit him down with the 2009 archive and ask him to read it out loud while your face burns crimson..."
She waggles her backside again. "Bot-tom. Bottom" she reiterates.
It's clearly time to up the stakes.
"If you do not put your bottom back in your pyjamas, where it belongs," I announce, "then when we go out for lunch today, you cannot have apple juice. You can only have water."
Now, this may sound like the mildest sanction in the world, but the result is immediate. She stops and looks at me carefully, as if to say: You wouldn't dare, so don't go there.
I glare back, trying to say with my eyes: Oh yes, I went there. I just dropped the 'AJ' bomb. Deal with it...
There is stare-off, during which her bottom remains prominently on display. Finally, she reluctantly pulls up her trousers, before casually announcing: "If you do not give me any apple juice, I will catch you on fire."
I am slightly taken aback by this, but decide that rather than it being an early sign of deeply worrying anti-social and pyromaniac tendencies, it has more to do with the fact that she has just watched 'Finlay the Fire Engine' on CBeebies. However, my inner pedant cannot resist further comment.
"Set me on fire," I say. "Not catch me on fire..."
She gives me look of pure disgust. In retrospect, it may have been deserved.
Later, when I tell my wife about the whole sorry episode, she laughs like drain. I point out the her eldest daughter has now developed a tendency for running butt-naked around the house, giggling. My wife laughs even louder. And then I recall her teaching the girls her patented 'Shake your boom-boom' dance, and the way she treats the sight of my own backside, and it all suddenly becomes very clear: every child has two parents, and in this case, I've got the daughter my wife deserves...


Anonymous said...

ROFL! The best one yet :-)

PS: Happy New Year to you.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry PDC, this is totally normal for girls. My son never did this and even now he's very shy with his body. My daughter on the other hand aged 5 loved stripping off and waving her botty about. She espcially delighted in doing her impression of a Japanes flag when we had visitors..nice

Anonymous said...

"I certainly don't lead by example in this regard"

*ahem* Need I really present the indisputable photographic evidence I have in my possession, of your own arse-flaunting tendencies? In public, no less?

PDC said...

Pat, that was different. That photo was a special gift from me to you because you were getting marrried. It was a special occasion, not a habit.

Kate said...

Actually it was Mat's stag do, I had never met you and introduced myself at his wedding by stating I didn't recognise you with your trousers on!
Sorry to spoil your, clearly unreliable, memories
Kate X