‘Mom, what time is it?’ ‘Oh, it’s quarter past eight’, I answer somewhat automatically. ‘Not true! It’s thirteen minutes past eight.’ Oh, right, sorry, just forgot that my girl likes to be exact. Why the heck not look at the clock yourself; what difference do two minutes make anyway; ‘we’ round these things off, as I already told you many a time – I mutter in my head. No use, though, because for my eldest thirteen past eight does not equal quarter past eight.
‘Mom, you are speeding!’ ‘Don’t worry. 80 is permitted here. Just leave the driving to me, ok?’ ‘Yes, 80 is permitted here, but you’re driving 82.’ O, the darn digital speedometer! Why did Renault install it in the middle of the dashboard instead of behind the wheel; why is she into everything; I’m going to tape up that know-it-all mouth of hers; no other child of six bothers about signs along the road, and why never-ever blindly trust the grownups – my head continues muttering. No use though, because strictly speaking she is right.
‘Mom, we haven’t brushed my teeth yet!’ ‘It’s late. It’s way past your bedtime. Oh well, let’s skip tooth brushing for once.’ I whisper in a conspiratorial tone of voice. ‘But that’s wrong! And then I don’t need to put pyjamas on either, or to the bathroom, and please, read me another story or two? No, don’t turn off the light! Will you get me my crayons downstairs, so I can do some drawing?’ Grrr, it gets even worse. I’m so tired, and I want to take it easy just for once, but I could have known, of course it doesn’t work that way, why not think just a little longer, better, smarter, before I let that slip my lips – my head mutters, too late.
Always, always must I think well ahead of time about what I’m going to say and do. Know what the consequences will be and foresee which resistance I’ll meet, prevent false expectations. Never-ever do I get away with an off-day, because I’ll have to pay threefold for it that same day and for the next few days.
On top of that I have to cope with those who say I should let go a bit. I’d love to watch them do it: be responsible for longer than an hour, or a day, for a child who requires consistency until death. After 36 hours they would beg me to come sweep them up and carry them away.