When Pudd’ng makes a mistake, we have our house rules on how and when to address and redress the issue. These rules are not written down, though. They are just things that, over the years, we have come to put into effect, consciously and subconsciously.
We do not crack the whip when …
She is taking a meal
Meal times are not just periods when we nourish our bodies with food, but they are also times for communion and shooting the breeze.
A child should not be made to lose their appetite, because they made a mistake.
There are times when, if our daughter has erred, I do not tell Tenderoni until after we have finished a meal, and Pudd’ng has cleared the table. That’s when I “shake” the table.
She has just woken up
Essentially, mornings set the mood and pace for the entire day. My father always insisted that he did not want to be surprised with requests of, for instance, money, when he was leaving for work. He wanted such matters to be taken care of before he went to bed the previous night.
We try, as much as possible, not to read Pudd’ng the riot act, the first thing in the morning. We want her to have a good day, and we know that it can only be possible if it starts well.
She has just returned home from school
The first thing that Pudd’ng asks me as soon as she returns home from school is, “How was your day?”
There are times that I want to reply with a tongue-lashing about her homework book that I chanced upon, hidden under her bed. But I hold my horses until after she has taken a breather and taken tea, for me to seek answers from her.
She is in the company of her friends
There was nothing that I loathed more than my parents throwing the book at me while I was in the company of my friends. I would be the butt of their jokes until another sucker came along.
Pudd’ng is a sensitive babe. Which is why, when she is with her BFFs, we do not let them know about her blunders.
We have guests in the house
If Pudd’ng has made a mistake, and we have guests in the house, unless the mistake is evident to the guests and must addressed there and then, we keep it under wraps. And even if we address it, we endeavour do it in a gentle way.
If it was a mistake that Pudd’ng made when the guests were not around, we do not bring it up. We do not ask outsiders to lend a helping hand in sorting out messes that ought to be handled by the family.
We are in the public
What happens in the confines of our homes should be handled in those four corners? Sometimes parents run out of patience, and they let their kids to have it in public.
I know that I can wreck baby girl’s self-esteem if I wash her dirty laundry in public. And if it is one of those days that she has erred and her teacher asks for me, I always resist the urge to loudly read her the riot act all the way to school.
We have an audience with her teachers
In primary school, I remember a father who would administer corporal punishment to his son on the parade ground, in front of the whole school. It messed up that kid badly, and he became a delinquent.
When we are called by Pudd’ng’s teachers because she has erred, or when we are collecting her report card, we do not throw the book at her, no matter how enraged we are.
I may agree with her teacher on issues that need to be corrected. But I do not administer corporal punishment or a lecture baby girl in the presence of the teacher.