Do you remember the days when you could tell your children anything and they would believe you? At Christmas the merest whisper of a bad report to Santa and they would scuttle off to do your bidding. Tell them that babies are made with special cuddles and that was explanation enough. When they ask why they should do something 'Just because' was enough of a response. If you had a hissed row with daddy on the phone you could explain away the floods of tears by saying you got something in your eye. Boy do I miss those days.
My children are too savvy by half nowadays. Take my five-year-old. At the moment we are not watching TV for reasons to complicated to go into. Now pre-TV ban my threat to get them to make their beds was that if I came in and found duvets on the floor and toys scattered around, there would be no screen time. Cue me saying 'M, why isn't your bed made?' 'Well mummy are we still doing our no TV experiment?' he responds. 'Yes', I admit. 'So there isn't any point in me making my bed is there as I can't watch TV anyway'. The boy is only five.
I spluttered that I could easily think up another punishment and he reluctantly straightened his pillows, but we both knew he had won that battle of wits.
Next up is his big brother. I have been having some problems with my own parents recently, but believed I had thoughtfully and successfully kept them from my sons. More fool me. 'Mummy why don't you like grandma very much at the moment?' trills my seven-year-old. 'What do you mean darling?', I ask, all innocence. 'Well you did throw her out of the house didn't you?' he replies.
A slight exaggeration of events, but I will admit to some very heated exchanges of late, I just hadn't realised that he had been taking notes throughout. I had tried so hard not expose him, but he doesn't miss a trick.
Sadly, sophisticated as they are in some areas, tact is not one of them. There is simply no brake between brain and mouth and they are more than capable of repeating any waspish aside or nasty comment thrown out in anger as gospel truth, much to the detriment of my relationship with my in-laws. I am just hoping that this sign of maturity will arrive as fast as their mastery of the art of observation and negotiation have.