This morning, my tousled Little Princess padded into the kitchen and sleepily asked for a cappuccino.
Not her usual ‘hot chocolate’ (Milo and chocolate flavouring). Not a bubbacino. But a real cappuccino. “Like you Mumma”.
Guilty as charged. I can't start the day without a strong, skim milk frothy cup of heaven, and clearly, Harmonie has picked up on my addiction.
Okay, obviously I’m not going to give a five-year-old caffeine. Harmonie’s cappuccino is just milk froth with chocolate powder on top. But as I watched her sipping it contentedly, it got me thinking: Isn’t if funny how kids are influenced by their parents?
Recently, my son Chase was in the middle of a temper tantrum and couldn't seem to get himself out of it. I can’t even remember what sparked it: Probably something major like his favourite TV show not being on, getting told off for trying to kill his sister, or being denied ice-cream for dinner. Whatever the case, he was angry, teary, defiant and out of control.
I tried all the usual child-calming tricks. Time out. Cuddles. Threats. Bribes. Whispering. Shouting.
Look, I sympathise with kids when they're in Full Tanty Mode. Adults find it hard to calm down when they're in the middle of a dispute, so why do we expect kids to do it so effortlessly?Frustrated myself, and having counted to ten, I finally thought: What calms me down when I’m stressed and out of control? And I realised: Usually, a soothing cup of tea or a medicinal glass of wine (or three!) does the trick.
Clearly, the wine is an option for the Monkey Man! So I went over to him, and quietly asked if he would like a cup of tea.
He stopped, mid-rant, immediately, and looked at me with interest. “What did you say?” he asked.
“I asked if you would like a cup of tea,” I said calmly. “When I’m angry or stressed about something, I find a cup of tea makes me feel better.”
Chase has never had tea before. I see a sparkle come into his eye and know I’ve won.
Tantrum forgotten, we spend the next 20 minutes or so making the tea – Good Aussie breakfast tea, weak, topped up with soy milk, and a couple of sugars. Chase is entranced by the ritual, and I sit beside him, chatting, while he drinks it. “You’re right Mum, I do feel better,” he says when he’s finished.
As I watch him walk happily towards his colouring books, I smile. It’s rare in parenting – at least at my home – that it all comes together. Suddenly, I feel like Super Mumma! Peace is restored and I had something to do with it. Parenting doesn’t get much better than that!
Now, whenever Chase is feeling anxious, teary, or sick, he’ll come to the kitchen and ask for a cup of tea.
My husband thinks I’m crazy giving the Monkey Man caffeine, but honestly, it’s half weak tea, half-milk. He’d probably get more caffeine from a bar of chocolate!
And when Chase is drinking it, I always make time to sit with him and chat. Usually I have a cup with him.
I’m hoping it will turn into one of those family rituals that will help to bond us for life.
I just have to make sure my habits are relatively harmless - at least the ones they see. I don't want them coming home from school one day in the future and saying: Can I please have a wine, Mum? Preferably something with bubbles?"
Anyone else got any kid-wrangling tips to share? Or are there family rituals that enhance your life?
I’d love to hear them!