I consider it something of a triumph that Flea tells me that, yes, she considers herself to be “very beautiful" (fair observation) and “extremely cool” (open to interpretation, to be brutally honest).
What’s tricky is where we draw the line between bolstering kids’ self-esteem and giving them a realistic understanding of their abilities – not to mention that fact I’m trying not to raise an annoying git.
After school yesterday, I took Flea to a local park, and settled on a bench to watch her play. First, she went on the swings – which are set up on a circular frame, so the kids all swing inwards, bumping toes.
“You will go higher if you bend your legs backwards,” Flea told her nearest neighbour. “Now stretch them out like this….”
The little boy (naturally) ignored Flea. She wasn’t having any of it.
“Now watch me, you know, I’m only telling you this because I AM AN EXPERT IN SWINGING,” Flea declared.
Bless her. I love my daughter a lot, I really do, but if this continues, she’s going to get hit – a lot.
Flea’s healthy self-esteem extends to a range of activities – she is convinced she can swim (she can’t) and will argue until she’s red in the face about the correct pronunciation of the word havoc, which she is convinced rhymes with hay-box.
Now, I don’t want to crush her little spirit, but at the same time, I want Flea to accept that sometimes you can’t just DO stuff – you get better as you go along. And even then you’re not always going to be brilliant at EVERYTHING. And if you are, it's not good manners to show off about it. This is why I sometimes come across as being hopelessly disorganised and chaotic in my parenting, of course – I just don't want to seem boastful. Cough.
Anyway, my flawless parenting technique to ensure Flea doesn't become an annoying git that other kids want to punch is to start beating Flea at stuff – for example, I try to make sure I win when we play the old game of squares – if you don’t know it, it’s where you draw dots on paper and take turns trying to connect the dots to make squares. Every time you make a square, you write your initial inside it, and at the end of the game, the person with the most squares wins.
I must confess, this idea isn't going brilliantly well.
The problem is that Flea, on realising she’s losing, will very politely ask me to find something she’s dropped under the table. When I sit up, as if by magic, all the squares that had an ‘S’ inside them magically have ‘F’s instead.
You’ve got to admire the ingenuity, I guess. Any smart ideas?