Tough Love


Suddenly, amidst the screams and giggles, a shadow appeared in the doorway.

“What’s going on in here?” my wife asked me, which was odd because I wasn’t the one screaming or giggling.

“I’m teaching the girls to get along,” I told her. She didn’t look convinced.

Only a couple of minutes earlier I’d been listening to my two youngest children, Miss4 and Miss6, arguing. Despite their carrying on for about five minutes I still had no idea what the trouble was. Usually I’m happy to let them sort it out, but it didn’t sound like they were resolving anything, and I wanted to listen to catch up on some Youtubing, so I called Miss4 in for a chat.

“What’s happened?” I asked her.

“She hurt my neck,” Miss4 told me, pointing into the other room where her sister was. While she spoke, Miss4 was showing off her superb over-acting skills by massaging her throat and letting out a pathetic little fake cough for good measure.

“Did she hit you?” I asked.

“No,” admitted Miss4. “But I was lying on her and holding her down and she tried to get up and my neck was on the chair!” Her face suddenly took on a woeful expression. “My neck hurts because it hit the chair.” This was followed by, if anything, an even more flamboyant throat rubbing.

“How is that her fault?”

Miss4’s expression left no doubt what she thought of that question. She was so stunned by it she forgot to keep rubbing her neck and instead spread her hands in front of her in a pleading manner.

“She tried to get up!” Miss4 repeated.

Of course.

Armed with this I called Miss6 into the room.

“What happened?” I asked her. “You sister says you hurt her neck.”

“I didn’t!” Miss6 bellowed. “She wanted her dolly but I was playing with it, and then she tried to take it off me.”

Years of playing Daddy Detective has given me a certain insight into how things work around here, and I was starting to get an idea of what had happened.

I stopped short of pretending to leave and then spinning around and, Columbo-style, saying I just had one more question, but I did have a question for my daughter which I thought might shed some light on things.

“Where did you get the dolly from?” I asked her.

There was a guilty pause you could comfortably fit a family of seven in, followed by some foot shuffling and shifty eye movements.

“I thought she’d finished with it.”

“No you didn’t!” yelled Miss4. “You took it off me!”

“I think,” I said to the girls, “you’d both better apologise to each other. Time for some hugs.”

A few glares crossed the room, but otherwise no one moved.

“You’ll say sorry to each other and hug,” I repeated. “Or you can both go to the naughty corner to think about how silly it was to not do what you were told.”

Finally a couple of mumblings issued from their lips which I took to be apologies, but aside from that they both seemed intent on imitating statues.

“Now give each other a hug,” I said. Then I resorted to the classic parenting fallback – or rather, count back. “Three…Two…”

Stubborn Miss6 didn’t budge, but I was pleased when Miss4 moved towards her sister.

For all of half a second.

There was a thud and some giggles, followed by a wail.

“That’s not a hug, that’s a tackle,” I told Miss4, whose arms were wrapped around the legs of her big sister. A tackle compares to a hug in the same way a bowl of pee compares to a bowl of soup – you can drink both with a spoon but only one of them is going to make the receiver happy.

Which was when my wife arrived and started to question my failing parenting technique.

“Unless,” said Tracey, shaking her head, “you’re planning to throw jelly on them, I think you’re doing it wrong.”

Is it wrong that I started to think maybe she’s got a point? I mean, at least then they’d both get their just desserts.

(Boom Boom lol)

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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”

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