The Semi-Detached Parent: New Year's Resolutions

09/01/2012 12:34 | Updated 22 May 2015
New Year's Resolutions 2012PA

Every year for probably the past 20 (maybe more) I have made the same resolutions – lose half a stone, finish my novel, go to bed earlier, get more exercise. But since having a child eight years ago, I've started adding in some parenting ones too. They seldom last, but they do usually spur me into some initial action.

When my son was about two, I vowed to get out more and meet more mums and go to more parent and baby type classes. That wasn't particularly easy, as a) it had to fit around my work and b) the idea of spending time discussing other kids' potty training and developmental milestones left me cold.

But I did it, and, years on, I am glad I did. It was good for my son, and good for me, too - I met people who I still see now, and it gave my son a good grounding in how it is best to avoid children brandishing plastic mallets and who push you off tricycles.

Then when he started school, I resolved to be involved in stuff like the PTA, and go to all the social events and fetes and family nights they put on. That was one of my least successful resolutions, and I lasted a year or so before deciding there was only so much of my sanity I could compromise in exchange for being a better parent, and also, the more involved I was with school, the less I actually saw of my offspring - not always a bad thing, but not in the spirit in which I'd signed up.

Nowadays, at the grand old age of eight, my son doesn't need my help with his social life, and doesn't care a jot whether I man a cake school at the summer fete or not. But, as I have written before, I do want to address the ongoing issue of how I find it hard to relate to his more boyish interests and how that worries me in terms of keeping good communications in the future. So with that in mind I made these two new year's parenting resolutions.

1) To actually listen when he telling me about his computer games/sciencey stuff/other geeky things he adores, and ask questions and show an interest whether it is of interest to me or not (er, it probably won't be).

2) To make sure he knows he is loved through actions, not just words. I was having a conversation the other day with a relative about how telling someone you love them is totally meaningless if your behaviour does not back up your words ('I love you' coming from someone screaming in your face and threatening you with bed/a slap/the orphanage probably doesn't quite hit the spot).

To keep to resolution number one, I have spent this first stretch of 2012 (seven whole days! Count 'em!) showing never-before-seen interest in spaceships, Lego and robot building (well, I watched the video he made at his dad's of them building a robot).

And to go some tiny way towards achieving number 2, the evening before he returned to school last week, I slipped a little note into his pencil case saying: Have a lovely day. Love you lots. Mum. (I am always Mummy, really, but I thought Mum showed a certain amount of detached coolness that would be appreciated. And the scrap of paper was small).

The following morning, when I went into his room to make his bed after he had left for school, I found the note removed from his bag and in the bin.

"I did read it before I threw it away," he insisted on his return that evening when I quizzed him about it.

With hindsight, it probably wasn't one of my better ideas, given that now he has reached the heady heights of year four, admitting you even have a mother probably isn't allowed, let alone one who, ugh, spew, loves you and leaves notes to that effect in your pencil case. .

But judging by the running jump he did onto my back, the accompanying roar, and the sloppy kisses he planted into my hair after he fessed up to the bin incident, I think he had got the message. And that it was even a two way thing.

Now to keep up the feigning of interest in all things space... oh and to finish my novel. And lose half a stone. And exercise. MUST exercise more...

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