My six-year-old son is having a strop. He's done that thing that all children (and a few adults) do, in that he's managed to wind himself up so much over something trivial and pointless that it's suddenly the biggest drama in the world and he's turned a bit murderous.
He's standing in the kitchen, glaring at me. "I'm glaring at you," he says, as if to clarify.
I stare back, and decide which of my five parenting super powers to use; skills that every parent has which are unique to being a mum or dad, an arsenal of non-physical weaponry which asserts your power over your child.
And so, my brain rifles through the following options:
Remember when you were little, and you were at an elderly relative's house, and said a rude word, or misbehaved? You would be given The Glare, most often from your mum, which said that as soon as you were back in the car on the journey home you would get the biggest telling off in history. The Glare is one of the most powerful super powers, in that it can be used across a crowded room without drawing attention whilst still hammering home the message that you're really, really cross.
Sometimes a situation will call for firm voice. It's the same kind of voice you use when firmly telling a dog to sit; eyebrows raised, the pitch of your voice lowered, your words short and sharp. It's a voice which tells your child that you're at the end of your tether and they need to think carefully about the next move they make; otherwise you'll both be stropping.
This is not really something you would use to discipline or reprimand your child; it's more something you automatically adopt whenever you have a child. It's the tone of voice used when calling your child's name up the stairs, where you split their name into two syllables, the second of which hits just the right note to go right through them and cause instant irritation.
Nerves of Steel
Before you had children, the mere thought of getting a bit of someone else's poo on your finger was enough to send you retching into the nearest bin. But becoming a parent throws you in at the deep end, and you have to become resilient to poo, sick, snot, and all of the other bodily juices that babies emit. If you get it on your finger, you just wipe it off eventually when you get a spare second, if you remember.
When Spider-Man's spidey senses tingle, it doesn't mean he's aroused; it means something is wrong, and he needs to sort it out ASAP. As a parent you get a very similar sense, and it usually coincides with your children being suspiciously quiet in the other room. Tingling, you tentatively open their bedroom door and behold with dismay the cluttered floor, the pen all over the walls, and the tub of Sudocreme they somehow got hold of.
Time to break out the Firm Voice and Glare, I think.
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