Tag Archives: shouting at your kids

An angry wasp with arse ache


It’s official. I have Zen envy. You see, E goes to karate every week. He seems to enjoy it, although to be fair it can be difficult to tell as it seems he has the same inherent dislike of organised games and fun as I have. Couple this with the fact he is likely to stop listening to the instructor and start wondering if he can fit all ten of his fingers in his mouth at once, or if he can turn round quick enough to catch a glimpse of the back of his head in the mirror, and you have a recipe for indifference bordering on the utterly disengaged. After all, this was the boy that stood in the middle of the tennis court during one tennis session, as twenty other kids diligently practised their ball control, licking his tennis racket. Although it was raining, and he probably was thirsty…

But I love him going to karate. Mainly because it is probably the longest time in his entire week that he spends under strict discipline, because no one, repeat no one, mucks about when the instructor is in the room. (Just to be clear, the fact that me and a friend drop our sons into the lesson then piss off down the coffee shop for a natter has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I love karate so much. Nothing. At all.)

There is a name for the instructor. Sensei? Sensee? I know it sounds a little like something that should be the exotic one in the range of Lynx deodorants, but I can never quite remember. Ah well. Let’s just call him Zenman. This man exudes zenness. (I may have made that word up, but let’s go with it). He fixes parents with his steely blue-eyed stare, and cheque books open all of a flutter and any protestations about paying for lessons not attended dry up in nervous throats. Children, on hearing his voice, will pause mid-fight and line up, the very epitome of obedience, awaiting their next instruction. I tis truly amazing. And, if I am being honest, slightly sickening.

I want some zenness. I want to be a Zenmum. I don’t want to shout at my children like a fishwife in the middle of the street. I’m not even that keen on fish. We had friends round the other day, and the kids were going a little wild in the lounge. “DON’T JUMP ON THE SOFA!” I yelled from the kitchen, as I caught a glimpse of an airborne foot and heard the distinct sound of a sofa groaning in pain. “Oh, I am glad you scream at your kids,” my friend said. “I feel better now I’ve heard you.”

Technically, I don’t think I screamed. Screaming is for people who can’t control their kids. Mine was definitely more of a shout. Because I can control my kids. I think they are just a bit hard of hearing. Well. It may have been just a tiny bit screamy…

So, at a recent karate lesson, confronted once again by Zenman’s quite frankly inhuman control of a bunch of young kids, I decide to change. I decide to get myself a bit of that zen. I am sure there is enough to go round, and Zenman certainly won’t miss a little bit of his. He’s too busy not being annoyed by highly annoying kids to miss just a smidge.

I enter the hall just as the lesson ends, which is the cue for fifteen kids who have all spent the last sixty minutes practising ultimate emotional and physical control to go absolutely ape-shit. Zenman glides to the side, seemingly oblivious to the three hundred-odd decibels of child-generated noise. I stand at the side too, and decide not to scream for my son to come over and get his shoes on. I will do as Zenman does, and summon him here with nothing more than a strong, clear voice and willpower. I will have to do without the white karate suit that exposes acres of chest, as I fear Zenman carries off that particular look in a way that I couldn’t.

“Come here please,” I say, trying to catch E’s eye. He barrels past, arms flailing, in pursuit of his friend.

“Come here and get your shoes on please,” I say again, a little louder. I will not shout. I am a Zenmum. I am calm personified. My son totally ignores me.

I take a deep breath. Do not shout, I urge myself. I am aware than Zenman is close by. I start to sweat a little, with the pressure of not giving into my urge to shout for my son and the irritation at the little voice in my head saying ‘You know he thinks you can’t control your son. You know he knows you are about to shout. He is zen. You, on the other hand, are about as Zen as an angry wasp with arse ache. You couldn’t do bloody Zen if you were lying comatose in a white box. You wouldn’t know zen if it came up to you, bathed you in an inordinate sense of calm and Om’ed all over your face. You are about as Zen as…” ALRIGHT. I get the fucking message.

“Come here NOW!” I say. I don’t shout it, but I do say it very, very, very loudly. E looks over at me. Bingo. He then turns and runs in the opposite direction. Perhaps I should just go home without him?

“E, your mum wants you,” says Zenman in a voice so quiet that even I struggle to hear him. Immediately, E stops mid-run and sprints over to us.

Oh good. My humiliation is complete. As I grumpily shove trainers onto the wiggling feet of my son, I make a decision. I don’t want to be a Zenmum. I will embrace the anti-zen. I will shout when I need to, and swear quietly under my breath when my children wind me up, and I will get annoyed when I have to repeat a request to ‘clean your teeth please’  eight times. And having decided that, I am at once calm and relaxed. I may never hear the sound of one hand clapping, but quite frankly, anyone who needs to clap with one hand either needs surgery or more bloody mates. Meanwhile, you will find me over here, revelling in the noise of one voice shouting ‘I WILL NOT TELL YOU AGAIN. STOP JUMPING ON THAT SOFA NOW.”

STOP PRESS!!! News just in! Is this sounding dramatic enough yet? No? Okay… man crushed to death by rampaging hedgehog! Okay, maybe not. Listen, dear blog reader (and may I just say at this juncture that that colour really suits you?) I have a favour to ask. I have been shortlisted for The Dog’s Doodah’s UK Funniest Blog award 2014. I know. It must have been a lean year on the nomination front. Here’s the thing. I shall just come out and ask. Could you vote for Mothering Frights? I would be awfully grateful. Just pop on over to http://www.thedogsdoodahs.com/funny-blogs-2014.aspx   – it takes only about 30 seconds, perhaps a minute if you are trying to eat a Jammy Dodger at the same time. Thank you. No really. Thanks. I am touched. (Not in that way).

There’s a perfect parent inside, dying

I am the perfect parent. Okay, I may have to qualify that. I have the perfect parent, inside my head. I would like to think it is dying to get out, but I fear it may just be dying. Little by little, as I stumble across the obstacle course that is bringing up two children, slightly out of breath and a tad fearful that I may not quite make it across the next wall, trying to brush rusk crumbs from my eyebrows with one hand whilst trying to stop my youngest eating the mud, my perfect parent slowly crumbles. In the face of such mediocrity, confronted by snot-smeared jumpers and eye bags that seem to touch my jaw bone, there is little room left for perfection.

I know, for instance, that my perfect parent would not shout. Because we all know that shouting is just you admitting that you have lost. Both the argument and the plot. But hey, that doesn’t stop me. I sometimes use the excuse for E playing me up at bedtime that he is tired after a busy day: so can I now play that card too? The other evening, I was putting E to bed. All was going just fine and dandy and I was feeling pretty relaxed. Right there is the first sign that this was not going to end well. We put the book down that we had been reading and I asked him to get into bed. I could see his leg twitch, and then he decided not to comply. Oh good.

“Come on, into bed please. Now.” I keep my tone as light as my irritation will allow, trying hard to convince myself that this is not going to end badly and that under utterly no circumstances am I going to lose my temper. Shouting? Not today, thank you. I will be calm personified. I momentarily close my eyes and channel Supernanny. I can do this.

E makes no attempt to move. I put my hand on his back, giving him a gentle nudge in the right direction, just in case he has forgotten where the bed is, seeing as it is all of three foot away and directly in his line of sight. There is no movement.

“You will lose television tomorrow if you don’t get into bed right away,” I inform him. This is the worst punishment I can inflict…. on me. I have no idea why I use it as a bargaining tool, it is much more painful for me to have a child without television, as it is the only thing that keeps him from getting every toy he owns off the shelves whilst simultaneously playing marbles right in front of B, who simply thinks he’s in one of those restaurants where the food rotates past you and you can help yourself.

E and I stare at each other and I can feel my blood start to simmer nicely in my veins. “Last chance.”

He knows we are at the end of negotiations and he moves his left foot forward about two centimetres. I open my mouth to reprimand him, and he moves his right foot forward two centimetres. The tiny, tiny steps continue, each one racheting up my blood pressure incrementally. Now I am in a quandary, because he is technically doing as I ask, but is at the same time, managing to make me want to chop his feet off. I fear my head might explode with barely contained irritation if he doesn’t get into bed soon, but mindful of my promise to myself not to shout, I pass the time by sinking my fingernails so deep into my palms, they poke out the back of my hand. Finally, he reaches the bed, but remains sitting up.

“Lie down please,” I order. He does not move. Then I shout at him. The perfect parent inside sniffs with disgust.

And I am damn sure the perfect parent answers every question asked with a full, patient and educational answer. I certainly vowed that this is what I would do. And then I had kids, and one of them reached the age where everything, from a leaf on the floor to a fluffy cloud, from a pea on his plate to a TV advert, provokes a barrage of questions.

“How does the earth stay in space?” I bloody knew I should never have bought him a book about space. You give them an inch to learn, they want to know about the whole bloody mile.

“It’s a thing called gravity that keeps it there, and keeps everything stuck to the earth.”

“I’m not stuck to the earth,” he helpfully points out, waggling one foot in the air. Okay, deep breath.

“Well, we all are, sort of.”

“Why?” Here we go.

“Because… ” I peer into the black hole that is my knowledge of all things space related.

“…otherwise we would all float away.”


“Well, it is gravity that keeps us all here.”


Now at this juncture, the perfect parent would persist, and gladly offer further explanation. (Mind you, the perfect parent might bloody well know what she was talking about, which would be a sodding help). I, however, saddled with general ignorance and long term sleep deprivation, wave the parental white flag: “Just because.” The perfect parent inside tuts loudly and turns away with an air of resigned disappointment.

The perfect parent would also take their children on a range of exciting, educational and inspiring activities when they are all together for the day. Me, I choose the local soft play area every week. Because a) I get a sit down, b) with a coffee c) with friends and d) E runs off with his friend and leaves us in peace for a bit. This is only slightly spoiled by having to now sit in the baby area with B, meaning I have to pretend to be delighted by the presence of other people’s children crawling over my feet and throwing plastic balls at my head.

I think we all probably have the perfect parent inside of us, the parent we dream of being when we are first expecting a child, when the delights of dealing with your offspring have yet to be made a reality and you can see no earthly reason why you would not always be consistent with your discipline and can confidently vow never use confectionery as a legitimate way to get your child to get into the bloody car right now. It’s just that some perfect parents are better hidden than others. Mine is currently lying under a pile of rubble, so deeply buried no one can hear her scream. Certainly not above my bloody shouting, they can’t.