I had a teacher at school who would often say to us: “read quietly children as Mrs I-get-paid-for-this has a headache.” She would then proceed to put her head on the desk and we’d leave her in peace for the entire lesson. This woman is my idol. She had ignoring 30 children down to a fine art while I struggle to get to grips with ignoring three effectively.
My husband and I live and breathe our children (we don’t get chance to do anything else and not for the lack of trying) so it’s unlikely they are going to be suing us for emotional neglect (yet!). But is really having five minutes to catch up on This Morning or to take the washing out of the dryer by yourself too much to ask for?
It is the guilt. I blame the research crap that is out there stating that children who are ignored are statistically more likely to be aggressive to their better attended to peers (for being smug?!). Children who are ignored are also supposed to struggle to make lasting healthy relationships. So when they can’t get a boyfriend or girlfriend in Year 12 it will be your fault for not making that Taj Mahal from egg boxes last week.
Is there any time when it is acceptable to ignore your child without them turning into a criminal mastermind in later years? Hell yes! Here are but a few.
At nanny’s house
At nanny’s house none of the old rules apply; you too are a child in this abode and it gives your mum chance to tut loudly and give you parenting advice – you are all about the giving. My family lives 100 miles away so when we all return there is a holidayish feel about it. By that I mean my brothers kidnap my husband to watch football and my sisters come around armed with wine and Haribo. Nine hyped up children of varying ages will then systematically destroy my mum’s house while we all have a catch up. My mum will attempt to bond with the kids by shouting stop that, put that down, get off the wardrobe, and when are you all going home? Then she gives up and joins us for a glass or two.This is imperative and guilt free as it only happens every couple of months. If you don’t have long distance relatives, the same applies for uncle Bob’s 60th or any family do where someone foolishly includes the children.
It is a fact that the Government paid for Cbeebies to be invented from grant money to stop new parents turning to alcohol (at least before 5pm – the witching hour). If your child is engrossed in Mike the Knight, leave them to it. As long as you’ve not left any knives or scolding cups on the floor, have a ten minute snooze – I dare you. Never did mine any harm. But oh…. you might want to shut the door too. I had an unfortunate incident when I couldn’t find my toddler on reopening my eyes. After a frantic search I found him upstairs in the bathroom half in and out the tipped up washing up basket playing with old ear buds.
You fall into two distinct gangs in play group. Those with the babies stuck on the baby carpet, debating bowel movements and sterilisers, are part of the frustrated faction. They will be pretending to stimulate their babies with all manner of rattles while shooting death glares at the cool crew who are slurping coffee and eating Blue Ribbons by the kitchen. These are the mummys who are ignoring their toddlers with unashamed abandon. As they catch up on last night’s TV, they have a vague sense that their child is “over there somewhere.” You can feel a little better when you go and change your baby’s nappy and discover the same toddlers en masse in the toilets (putting the dinosaurs in the nappy bin and fishing them out again or licking their fingers after splashing in the toilet bowl).
|“Anyone seen my mum? Last time I saw her she had three biscuits in her mouth.”|
Nap time baby!
If you have a baby or toddler that doesn’t nap, you can cry on my shoulder and have a kip on my floor (you look like the living dead – has no one accidently took you to the morgue?!). If you have one that does nap, then congratulations. You are officially ignoring your child for its greater good and yours. It is amazing how many How I met your Mothers you can squeeze in before they wake. It’s not like you can hoover or anything as you might wake them. Might as well have another Hob Nob and sit down with a brew. Gabe doesn’t do naps but I reserve my right to ignore him anyway and will put him in his cot for a little play (in the hope one day he might get with the programme). He just uses the time imaginatively to squeeze out a poo as my punishment for abandoning him.
You’ve just paid for duveted up posts and pillows to entertain your offspring for an hour, so entertain them they shall. And it’s exercise – that’s good for them. They will also learn to interact effectively with other children (or spit, stamp and shove their way to the front of the slide taking no prisoners – equally important life skills). Basically it is grade one cognitive and motor stimulation. A complete win. That is unless your child is still not at a stage to roam free, then you are basically screwed. Instead of gossipping and eating cake in the parent’s area you are going to have to partake in the mini assault course over and over (and then over and over again), slyly elbowing others (tots or mums) out of the way then blaming your kid. Stay at home – at least there if you put your hand in a puddle of water you might have some idea of its origin.
Times when it is perhaps not okay to ignore your children:
- When you are making smoothies with the blender
- On a cliff-top walk
- Near a chocolate fountain
- When they are sledging down the stairs in shoe boxes
- At parties with tigers and fire eaters
- When they are wearing white
- Near any priest, teacher or health visitor.
|Gabe says: “Mum you know I can actually see you hiding with your mates behind the
Noddy car. Saddo!”