I had to go to the Headmaster's meeting at the school yesterday afternoon and I had to take my son with me. He's nearly four. Was I being unreasonable to expect him to sit quietly for half an hour?
Whether this was unreasonable or not, it certainly did not happen.
As he can now comprehend words, I thought he would be able to understand, 'Just sit next to me for a little bit and we'll listen to the headmaster.' If that didn't quite sink in, I really thought the promise of sweets at the end would keep him quiet. (Bribery is one of my trusted parenting techniques).
He nodded sagely and wriggled his bottom into the sit and quietly fiddled with the toy sword I had let him bring.
As soon as the Headmaster started his speech on the importance of online safety, my son threw the sword like a dart into the back on someone's head.
I retrieved the sword whispering many apologies.
Whilst doing so he collected all the leaflets off the empty chairs and threw them up in the air.
The Headmaster continued to talk on and on whilst I wrestled him onto my lap and tried to whisper loving things, funny things, promising things and finally threats in his shell like ears.
He wriggled off my lap and sprawled on the floor shouting, 'Help me mummy,' as though he were floating out to sea. When I ignored this he got to his feet and shouted, 'YOU DIDN'T HELP ME MUMMY!' Mortification settled heavily in my chest and shone bright red on my cheeks.
He screamed he wanted his sword. Should I give it back to him and risk it being launched as a missile again or should I deny him and endure the hysterical and loud fall out? I did the latter - the sound was deafening. He writhed about, accidentally head butting my nose and kicking my shin.
Just as I thought I might be the only parent to shout in the hall meeting - ever, he announced loudly, 'I need the toilet!'
Thank f**k thought I spying a chance to leave the room and give him a stern talking to in private.
Unfortunately a teacher walked in to the toilets just as I was berating him for his behaviour - why do I instantly feel guilty about this? By berating I mean that I was talking sternly about him being a big boy now and helping mummy, with a few references about missing out on future treats if he didn't behave himself. So why do I feel like I was caught out thrashing him with a chair whilst swearing?
I took the opportunity to leave the meeting at this point. Quite frankly I couldn't cope with the task set for me. This is the task set for any parents trying to deal with unruly children in a public space namely, you have to show an erratic infant that you are very angry whilst talking in a quiet and calm manner - impossible.
Am I being unreasonable to expect my child to behave himself when asked to?
Advice on keeping children occupied in a manner that lets me listen to a grown up talking, would be gratefully received!