Call me a tiger mother, but I used to MAKE my children sit down to watch ‘Top of the Pops’ with me every Thursday evening. It was important, how else was I going to get my kids off ‘Wheels on the Bus’ and into a more sophisticated appreciation of music? (I know, I know).
It worked though; of all the things I do with my kids, I think the Top of the Pops one ranks high in terms of achieving the desired result. The Ronan Keating phase didn’t last long, and we were soon finding the nuggets amongst the trash and setting off on a voyage of discovery of new music which continues to this day.
It was all for me, not for them. By the time Son Number Three came along, children’s tapes in the car were making me silently scream inside. I wonder now if they need children’s songs at all. My daughter went straight to Green Day from nothing really. She used to make drawings of them at nursery. I thought it was because they were her favourite band but she told me recently she just liked the name.
Other things I do with my kids which have really been looking after my own interests first include camping, barbeques on the beach, swimming in the sea (‘It’s not cold!’) walking the whole length of the South Downs Way (‘Come on! It’ll be fun! No, it’s not very far to Winchester!’) and listening to long passages of T.S. Eliot (‘Listen to this! I did it for A level, it’s brilliant!’)
They thank me for it now.
There’s a sub-category of things I do with my kids because they give me a warm glow of Being A Good Mother. Baking cakes together, even though secretly I’d rather just do it myself so the kitchen doesn’t end up in a snowstorm of flour and icing sugar. Visiting children’s theme parks. There’s nothing like a poorly-designed not-very-good-value-for-money Dinosaur World to get me really excited about Giving Them a Good Childhood.
And then, for balance, there’s the list of Things I Refuse to do with My Children and I Don’t Care if They Think I’m Boring. Paint-balling. Halloween. Playing computer games. Reading ‘just one more’ Bob the Builder story. Especially that one where they all pretend to forget his birthday all day just so they can throw him a surprise party at the end, because I get too emotionally involved with that one on behalf of Bob.
What have you got on your list?