Sunday, 7 February 2010
Bringing up Boys: How (NOT) to get children to behave on long car journeys...
I don’t think it would be so bad if I couldn’t hear them, see them, smell them or touch them – perhaps a privacy divide such as those in the best limousines that you see on the telly. Failing that I do my best.
It’s usually a case of carrot and stick. If you behave and don’t:
• Hit your brother
• Kick my seat
• Shout at me
• Shout at your Brother
• Push the dog
• Want a wee
• Take your seatbelt off
• Want to go home/stay where you are
• Want a drink
• Want food
• Want the radio on
• Want the radio off
• Want a different CD to the one she has just put in
• Need a huggie when Mummy is overtaking a lorry on a particularly difficult piece of road
THEN Mummy will give you some sweeties/a new Anbarrow/toys/ well virtually anything at this moment in time!
Sometimes this tactic works, more often than not it works but for not long enough. It is so easy to opt for sterner measures. Firstly I go for the withdrawal of privileges but about an hour and 45 minutes into the journey with road works, snow and massive lorries either side of me and still no let up from my companions, I do what many a parent has done before. I broker the great ‘I-will-leave-you-at-the-side-of-the-road-if you-do-not-be-quiet-now’ threat.
In journeys gone by this has proved exceedingly effective but as with many things familiarity breeds contempt and there comes a time where you have to put (or at least seemingly put) your money where your mouth is…
Now picture this: The Boy is an imaginative soul and he’s also quite dramatic. His younger brother is at the stage where he needs to test his metal. I have been driving for two hours and the boys are whining, kicking, shoving and just will not go to sleep. It’s 11 o’clock at night. I’m negotiating the myriad roundabouts that make up the ring road route round Milton Keynes. It’s snowing and I am desperately tired – I NEED to concentrate.
Me- exasperated: “If you do not be quiet now I will pull over and leave you by the side of the road! Now be quiet.”
Them chorusing: “Noooooooo!!!”
Me: “Boys! I said be quiet…NOW!”
Bog Boy: “But I don’t want to be eaten by the animals…”
Me: “Then be quiet and go to sleep.”
There is a momentary lull then one or other of them thumps the other and there is lots of shouting…Bog Boy gets out of his chair and jumps on his brother
Me, completely at the end of my tether: “RIGHT that’s it at the next lay by I am stopping and you are getting out. Bog Boy put your seat belt back on NOW!
The Boy: “Please Mum nooooo!”
Bog Boy: “Mummee! I don’t want it!”
Me (as I indicate to pull into a convenient bus stop): “Too late!”
I mean to just check that Bog Boy has got his seat belt on properly but I forget that for them it must really seem like I am going to haul them out of the back seat and dump them there in the lay by.
Both boys explode into tears and start screaming. The Boy holds tightly onto Bog Boy
The Boy: “No Mummy! No! Don’t do it Mummy, please don’t!”
Bog Boy: “I don’t want it! I don’t want it! No Mummeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!”
I swerve over the road at the unexpectedness of the explosion from the back and slam on the brakes making the car swerve and go into a massive skid. The back end is totally out of control and the bus stop looks remarkably solid and getting terrifyingly near. I steer violently one way then the other and somehow luck is on our side and the car comes to a halt.
Shaken I open the front door to get out. Both boys are still shouting in the back and I glance at down to see a hypodermic needle on the ground, I look about and note bits of foil as well and another needle. There is someone there just out of sight. My heart is already pumping but this seriously scares me and slamming the door, I start the car and make off almost as quickly as I stopped.
The boys are absolutely silent now in the back,
Me - with icy calmness that I don’t really feel: “Bog Boy? Boy? Are you alright?”
Them - very subdued: “Yes Mummy.”
Me: “Why don I put some nice quiet music on and you go to sleep….”
Note: There are 300 roundabouts in Milton Keynes. Fear does focus minds. I really, really wouldn’t recommend it.
Picture: Liz Leyh's "Concrete Cows" in 2006