I recently read an article from a 1945 edition of Parents Magazine. "How Not To Raise Our Children" talked about "The tragic picture of childhood in Germany!" The basic premise was that children of that time were raised not dissimilarly to mini soldiers. Strict discipline and a good dollop of control by fear.
Having politely asked Finje to put on her pajamas and clean her teeth approximately 326 times, I took myself off to quietly foam at the mouth as my husband asked once and procured a result. Were they on to something in 1945? Another quote was a touch concerning though, "The German father reigned supreme in the home and his presence was a source of potential fear to the children." Well we don't want that do we?
My mother had an über-effective child control technique used regularly on me and my brother. Known in our house simply as The Furry Eyeball, a single glance was enough to halt any attempts at insubordination often before they had begun. Neither of our parents ever laid a finger on us. The Furry Eyeball sufficed.
Oh how I had hoped to inherit the gene. No such luck! It's not down to lack of practice. The mirror, the cat and even my husband have found themselves on the receiving end of various facial contortions in an attempt to recreate that look. It's useless. I am a miserable disciplinarian. Worse, German mums seem to have it down to a tee. What is it, witchcraft?
Thankfully, Finje usually effects what is basically her fundamentalist regime of a 4-year-old within the private confines of our home. It is, however, when we venture out, and the need to test boundaries overwhelms her, that I truly hanker after that eyeball. Wanting to be seen to have at least a modicum of control over my offspring I never give up trying. My last attempt resulted, to my chagrin, in a giggled whisper by my husband informing me that I looked a bit like I was having a stroke.
Substantially worse than my woeful parental failures though, are the subsequent "Pity Looks" from my furry-eyed peers.
Who knows? We're probably doing okay. Despite a plethora of books doling out advice I suspect the only people who really know the secret are your grandparents. And perhaps my old French teacher!
What the heck. My theory? If we manage to avoid seeing our daughter on the Six O'clock News we will have triumphed.
Have any of us become the parents we envisioned ourselves to be before reality clobbered us round the ear hole?