I’LL MISS SANTA WHEN HE’S BACK AT THE NORTH POLE TOMORROW NIGHT. I always experience a bit of a post-Christmas hangover, in all senses of the phrase. But it’ll be even worse this year because I’m going to have to come up with a new way of dealing with my sometimes stroppy toddler son.
This time last year, Boy Wonder was still an overgrown baby, with basic communication skills. In the space of 12 months, he’s become a young boy, with an attitude and verbals to match.
People bang on about the Terrible Twos but the Tormenting Threes are much worse. Sometimes when I tell him off, he’ll wag his finger and declare that he’s ‘very cross’, how I’m ‘very rude’ and that we’re ‘not best friends any more’. Most of the time, though, he just ignores me.
Of course, he goes through phases and there are plenty of periods – sometimes a whole day – when he’s charming and loving and very funny. His spirit, independence and vocabulary combining in the most surprising, memorable ways.
Like most parents I know, I rely on two closely-related methods of tempering his more errant behaviour: BRIBERY – if you do that, you’ll get this; and THREAT – if you don’t do that, you won’t get that.
And since Halloween, there’s only been one show in town: the promise that good behaviour will be rewarded with shiny presents. The killer phrase that always gets a reaction is a mere two words: ‘SANTA’S WATCHING’. It helps that nowadays there’s a Santa on every street corner.
So, come Boxing Day, I’m going to have to think again. The Easter Bunny is a pathetic alternative and Boy Wonder’s birthday is a long way off. By New Year, the house will be devoid of treats and the inevitable icy rain will limit days out.
I haven’t worked out my next gimmick but I’ll be doing my best to avoid resorting to these useless phrases (complete with some suggested stroppy toddler reactions):
- I’m not going to repeat myself – Want a bet?
- Are you listening? – Did you say something? I’m conditioned only to hear the word ‘treat’.
- You need to grow up! – The other day, I heard mummy say exactly the same thing about you.
- I’m not a climbing frame. – Well, when I was snug in mummy’s tummy, I heard you say: ‘I can’t wait to have this little fella running around, jumping on me, wanting to roll around.’ Be careful what you wish for, Big Fella. Raaaaargh!
- Don’t touch that please. – What, that shiny, glittery thing, just there at my height, within my grasp?
- Come here, now please. – Over there, with you wearing that old face? No thanks, it’s much better over here.
- Will. You. Just. Do. As. You’re. Told. – Game over Big Fella. Victory is mine. See you next time.