To smack or not to smack

Oh, for a moment there I was tempted! So tempted! This must be how the head of PR for the Church of Scientology feels about Katie Holmes, how Andrew Tyrie felt about the evasive Bob Diamond, how the Staffordshire police felt about the man on a Megabus with the fake cigarette. For a moment, I wanted to give my five-year-old son a sharp slap. Because I was angry. Because Robin had driven me just too far. Because I wanted to pull rank and show who was boss.

You will be delighted to hear that I managed to restrain myself. Possibly because I caught sight of Mary the vicar at the end of the high street and was immediately reminded that forgiveness is better than retribution. And also because I remembered that banning TV after school is a more effective punishment.

Have you ever been tempted to smack your child?


How to be a calm parent

I have just been listening to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, and heard Noël Janis-Norton talk about her new book Calmer Easier Happier Parenting. One of her strategies is to praise children when they actually do what you’ve asked them to do. So if your small boy keeps shouting, and you’d much rather he didn’t, you notice when he’s talking at a lower volume and comment admiringly. ‘What a lovely calm voice! I can hear what you’re saying! That makes me want to answer your question!’ Will this work with Robin (5)? ‘How lovely that you’ve put purple felt tip on the paper! I can see it so much better than when it’s all over the wall! That makes me want to look at your picture!’
I think I should buy the book.

Hothousing children

I do believe children’s talents should be nurtured. When Robin splattered the off-white sofa covers with purple paint, for example, I took the long view and imagined him exhibiting at the Tate. But I’m less sure about the current passion for ‘hothousing’. Is it really necessary for a five-year-old to practise the violin for half an hour a day (I mention no names)? Should you force a pre-schooler to learn French, take up judo, perform pliés and practise arpeggios? (Again, I leave you to work out which Volvo-owner might be the culprit.)

 I was shocked to learn that there are children performing in the RSC‘s current hit show Matilda. When I was ten, I was tucked up in bed by 8pm every single night.

I believe it made me the woman I am today.


A love of music

The singer Annie Lennox says in a Guardian interview today, ‘Having children, they’re not your property. They need to figure out their own views.’ I couldn’t agree more. There might be some who should consider whether the relentless march through grade exams is more about overwhelming parental ambition than any true love of music.



Why we all feel like screaming

A version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream is being sold in New York. I don’t know about you, but I think this painting sums up what every mother feels when she realises her five-year-old has expressed his artistic urges by drawing on the off-white sofa with an unravelled wire coat hanger dipped in treacle.

(Picture from the Edvard Munch website)