Back in the foggy mists of time, I have a memory of telling Flea that tantrums, shouting, hitting or whinging were not acceptable in our household.
If Little Flea looked like she might melt down, I would ask her to go somewhere else until she felt calmer and then she could come and talk to me.
If she had said something rude, then when she came back, I would explain that unkind words make people feel sad, and I’d ask her if she had anything she wanted to say to me – this would inevitably prompt a mumbled, “Sorry Mummy” and then we’d move on to something else.
This friends, sounds like modern parenting at its finest.
Except it turns out to be a STUPID plan. Because while I congratulate myself on having a kid that has never thrown a tantrum, never bitten, hit or kicked anyone, I appear to have inadvertently created the world’s smallest, most lethal emotional blackmailer.
This week, I told Flea we couldn’t do something because it was bedtime.
Her bottom lip quivered. She turned her face up towards me, and deployed the croaky voice she uses to let me know she’s THIS close to tears. “I feel a bit sad, now,” she croaked.
“Why?” I asked.
“You used an unkind word, Mummy,” she said.
“Yes,” she said, earnestly. “You said no and that is an unkind word because it made me feel sad.”
“It is not,” I replied, clearly channelling my inner four-year-old.
Flea took a deep breath and looked me straight in the eye: “I am not sure I want to be your best friend any more because you have made me quite a lot sad. Do you have anything you’d like to say about that?”
Any chance I can swap her for one of those kids that shouts and slams doors?