How to discipline a six-year-old.

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I don’t often need to chastise Flea, but today was one of those occasions.

A few days ago, we bought one of those weird hamster balls so that Mr Hamster could run around the house without getting lost. Flea was very excited but I asked her not to open the packaging until I had some time to put it together.

Then today I came into the kitchen to find the packaging open and most of the ball on the counter – except one piece is missing, and it’s nowhere to be found. And it’s quite a crucial piece, since it’s the lid that keeps the hamster in the ball while he’s toddling around.

I decide this is something I need to deal with, as a responsible parent. Flea needs to learn about doing as she’s told, and not touching things she shouldn’t. So I call her into the kitchen and explain that the ball has been opened, and part of it has been lost.

“If you were me, how would you feel about this?” I asked.

“I’d be cross?” Flea guessed.

Yep,” I said, looking stern.  

Obviously, I’m not THAT cross – it’s a hamster ball – but there’s a principle at stake and I feel that my parenting credibility demands that I take a stand, or something.

Well, we were going to the waterpark tomorrow but as I now need to buy Mr Hamster a new ball, I think I will use the money I was going to spend at the waterpark, and we’ll stay at home,” I said.

Flea looked a bit sad, but said quietly, “That seems like a fair punishment, Mummy.”

And then we hugged, as I silently congratulated myself on another sterling parenting moment. Except, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Flea smiling.

Is this funny? Do you think I'm kidding?” I said, trying to ignore the fact that actually, the comedy potential of a rogue hamster is quite high.

“No, Mummy,” said Flea, earnestly.

“So why are you laughing?”

“I was laughing because I just remembered a joke,” Flea said.

“Oh really. Go on then. Which joke?” I said, thinking, I’ve got her in a corner, here.

Flea doesn’t skip a beat.

“I was remembering the one where he says, I don’t want to go to school tomorrow, and the lady says, oh but you have to and he says, but why, and she says, well, for one thing you’re 36 and for another, you’re the head teacher.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed. The kid thinks fast. 

No wonder I have zero authority. 



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. TheBoyandMe
    23rd October 2011 / 8:27 pm

    That’s classic! I am going to remember that one for the next time I’m in the staffroom. Why is it children have the ability to diffuse a situation straight away? NATO peace-keepers could learn from them!

  2. 23rd October 2011 / 9:40 pm

    I don’t think you have zero authority. You made your point, dealt out the punishment which was accepted bravely and hugged on it. The joke came afterwards – to show no hard feelings. I particularly like the fact that no hamster will suffer as a result of this episode. 🙂

  3. 23rd October 2011 / 9:59 pm

    Oh you gotta laugh! Such a clever girl :-)That’s a marvellous skill for getting out of the bad books as an adult too!

  4. 23rd October 2011 / 10:51 pm

    lol love it. She is so adorable. x

  5. 25th October 2011 / 10:35 pm

    Damn she’s good. I was impressed with your technique right up until the point she smiled…

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