The last time I believed in sunsigns I was 16 and in luuurve and desperately turning to Linda Goodman for proof that my Aries boyfriend and I were going to ride off into the sunset. Fortunately, with the end of the relationship I gave up all belief and didn’t really give it much thought.
When the Brat was born on 05.05.05, the world oohed over the date and then each person without fail, pointed out that he’s going to be a stubborn child. I smiled and let it go.
A more even tempered, sunshiney child than the Brat I’d never met. But then that’s because the first couple of years were spent just going with the flow. He didn’t have any need to test his bull-headedness. I was a totally besotted mother, he was the first child in the family and everyone just worshipped the ground beneath his ugly little toes.
Over the years he’s grown more stubborn and I’ve always heard that God only sends you the child that is right for you. What I don’t know is if he sent the Brat the mother that is right for him. I am rather brutal and impatient. So while other parents find ways to ‘deal’ with their child. I just yell and get frustrated. Okay that’s not true, I do often try mind games, but I don’t always have the patience to do that.
The latest test of patience was the Brat going for the school fancy dress as a French Chef. He had two lines to say and he just refused to say them. He’d purse his lips and say ‘No. I don’t want to say. You and dada are teaching me such terrible (!) things.’
The teacher called up and complained that he refused to say the lines. We were at a total loss. I don’t think it’s a big deal if a child doesnt say his lines at 3.5 – it’s about having fun, I figured and not every child is meant for the stage. But the drama didn’t end because the teacher insisted that he had to participate and the OA and I went mad saying the line day in and day out. Soon the Bean was saying his lines, the maid was saying them, the cook was saying them – but the Brat stubbornly refused to say them.
We tried everything and finally picked up the Ratatouille DVD. I promised him I’d put on a new cartoon about a chef if he said his line. It worked – he rattled it off in a second while I watched with a mixture of annoyance and pride. The little swine knew it and was just doing this to drive me to an early grave! And it’s just this way with everything. He stubbornly refuses to do/say things he doesn’t want to, and being such a gentle kid I hate to punish or whack him, but I get tired of bribery (no I don’t see it as motivation). I’d like some obedience and it seems like he’s decided that ain’t happening.
And so it went – we’d bribe with something and the Brat would say his line perfectly. I stitched his costume myself. A piece of white fabric stitched on to a shower cap and then tacked on to the Bean’s white lycra hairband. A red checked sash from Bean’s dress used around his neck as the cravat and his white school uniform with my huge apron altered to fit him.
The morning of the show the OA and I were more nervous than he was. We kept drawing on his moustache, he kept wiping it off. We lost patience and yelled. He threw a tantrum and sat on the floor and sulked in the corner where I usually give him time outs.
And so the big day dawned and we went to school with a sulky brat, tear stained cheeks, messed up moustache and much attitude. Once he got to school he was happy of course and skipped off to join his class.
The show started and I suddenly realised how out of our depth the OA and I are. Lots of kids came as social messages – donate blood (a kid dressed in a huge customised outfit shaped like a drop of blood) recycle (a well thought out home made outfit) and a little maid (against child labour). It hadn’t even struck me to do a social message. Another kid came as a thank you card to the school. Yes, they all won!! Damn – why didn’t I think of a social message, never mind that my child wouldn’t really understand it!
The costumes on most of the other kids were disappointing. Mostly because they were store bought and identical – American firemen, blonde fairies and Bob the Builders in readymade outfits from Mothercare. Which makes parents like me wonder why we stay up till 2 am sewing stuff together and ruining our lives and eyes. I think part of the excitement of something like this is to use your imagination.
The Brat learns a lot from the way we put our heads together and come up with an idea, improvise and make a costume out of it. He learns that you don’t always just buy your way to perfection, that there is a pleasure in handmade stuff and that there is a pleasure in creating something yourself.
We’re both working parents but last week the OA and I sat up half the night stapling crepe paper leaves on to a crown and making necklaces and bracelets for the Brat to go as a tree. The teacher called me aside and complimented me on his being the best tree outfit and I was happy that it was something we took trouble over, despite our hectic schedules. I’d really like to teach my son to value time together and effort. That not everything comes straight out of a box or a can.
Anyway, the show started and the kids came on and said their lines. Perfectly. The OA and I held our breath. The Brat came on stage and waved to us. Gave us a wide grin and took the mike. And then held the coolness of it against his cheek and smiled some more. The OA and I groaned. And mouthed his lines. The teacher then quietly reminded him that he was there to say his lines. He said them with a wide grin and they were completely unintelligible but the OA and I heaved a sigh of relief. He was certainly not winning any prizes but atleast he’d said it. Two other kids burst into tears upon coming to the stage and yet another one refused to come on stage. Small consolation but atleast our Brat only got so excited seeing us that he forgot, we consoled each other.
The show over, all the kids got little prizes and we took a skippy Brat home. One stubborn moment over. Dreading whatever comes next.