Before I had children, I knew a mum who was worried her only child was turning into an expat brat.
“We once had to fly Economy Class,” she told me, “and my son had a tantrum because he’d never had to ‘turn right’ before. He hadn’t even realised there was a cabin behind Business Class.”
It’s not so extreme in my house (I walk DD down to Economy just to show her how the other half live – *kidding*]) but I do worry that, with Gerlie practically crawling around DD’s room, picking up the mess of strewn toys and discarded clothes every day, DD is going to turn into an expat brat.
I’ve tried telling DD to clear up her own mess; in fact, I tell her a million times a day. I’ve told her that Gerlie will stop wanting to live with us. I’ve told her that I’ll stop buying her things. I’ve threatened (and pretended) to throw away things left on the floor.
“Oh good,” said DD, age five going on 15. “I’ll just leave everything I don’t like on the floor and you’ll throw it away. Cool.”
So we’ve issued some new rules. DD can’t yet reach the hanging rail of her wardrobe so we’ve agreed that she’ll fold all her clean clothes neatly and leave them on the sofa for me to put away. That she’ll put things that belong in drawers away in the drawers. That she’ll put dirty clothes into her laundry basket. That she’ll pick up and put away her own toys. And if she doesn’t… they’ll remain on the floor.
And I’ve banned Gerlie from tidying DD’s room. Gerlie looked at me like: Madam, are you out of your mind? Have you SEEN the mess she makes in there?
Yes, Gerlie, I have. But how else is she going to learn other than by picking her way through discarded books, clothes, puzzles, jewellery and shoes to find the precious must-have item of the moment? Maybe only then she’ll learn the value of putting things where they belong. Inshallah.
And trust me, she’ll be washing up as soon as she can reach the sink.
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