The great thing about young kids is they aren’t teenagers yet, so you get to impress them with your smarts and logic, and they listen to your every word.
If you’ve ever stood on a thistle with a bare foot, you’ll know the pain my poor little Miss5 was in on the weekend. She and her big sister, Miss8, had gone for an extended play date to the home of their school friends – a lovely property on some of the most beautiful hilly country in South East Queensland.
I gave them the usual rundown on the way over – no yelling, no arguing, no whinging, no swearing, no hitting, no pushing, no biting, no slapping, no scratching, no pinching, no running away, no hiding remotes, no making messes, no snatching something if you want it, no spitting out food if you don’t like it, no standing or jumping on furniture, no drawing or painting on walls, no doing any of the stuff you do behind our backs at home, and above all relax and have fun.
Unfortunately, as extensive as my list is I still missed one.
“OOoooooOOOOooooOOOooo,” cried Miss5, limping around like a wounded dog.
She’d stood on the only thistle around the house.
The noise attracted not only the attention of the Dad, who took to our little girl’s foot with tweezers, but also Miss8 and the other kids.
“You shouldn’t walk around the yard barefoot,” Miss5’s friend was telling her.
“You don’t want to stand on a thistle,” the older sibling told Miss8.
“What’s a thistle?” asked Miss8.
Her friend pointed to the one Miss5 had stood on…
…and, much to the Dad’s surprise and horror, Miss8 walked over, barefoot, and planted her foot on it.
And of all our kids, she’s the smart one!
“As I sat there pulling out thistles from both their feet,” the Dad later confessed to me, “I was thinking good thing they’ve got kids to spare.”
I was just pleased he kept his sense of humour and didn’t immediately call me to come collect my girls before some of their dumb rubbed off on his two.
The upshot of all this was that when they arrived home I explained to my girls that next time they go to their friend’s home (if they’re ever invited back) there is a new rule, no going barefoot outside the house.
“That’s silly,” Miss8 told me.
“As silly as stepping on a thistle after you’d seen how much it hurt your sister?”
“She might have been lying,” said Miss8.
“And was she?”
“No,” she admitted. “But the rule only needs to be no stepping on thistles. The rest of the yard was fine.”
She’s going to be a dreadful teenager.
If, by some miracle, she makes it.