Yesterday the Lamington added a new duty to my job description – I am now the Hat Police.
This came about because he discovered his favourite baseball cap on top of Happy Chin’s head instead of where it rightfully belongs, on his bedroom floor.
“Mum, can you please make sure he doesn’t wear my hat?” came the exasperated cry.
“Oh, sorry,” I said, knee deep in laundry and breakfast dishes, “I didn’t realise it was your hat.”
Two days later I finally had time to stop and think – hang on, why the hell should I be sorry? How come I get to be the Hat Police? I don’t have time for this.
Last week, I was the Mug Police. Apparently there are several mugs in the house that no one else except the Lamington is permitted to drink from, especially not people like Happy Chin. Maybe the Lamington is worried that Tuberous Sclerosis is catching (note to self – schedule a Genetics 101 refresher with him, once the laundry’s done).
Kids pinch each other’s stuff in every family. I refer to the Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition:
sibling noun /ˈsɪb·lɪŋ/
a relation who enters your room unauthorised and takes your stuff
They annoy each other, they fight, dob on each other and claim unfair and unequal treatment from the parental unit all the time. This is normal.
Why should I get involved? Wouldn’t the normal parent thing be to simply ignore it, tell them to sort it out themselves and only intervene if there’s claret spilled?
Well, yes it would, but we are not a normal family (as regular readers may have noted). I’ve always intervened because at heart I feel guilty about the childhood the younger two have had and I want to make things better and easier for them somehow.
Let’s imagine for a moment their elder brother didn’t have a significant disability. What would I have said? Probably something along the lines of ‘Suck it up Snowflake. And by the way, are they his Dr Dre’s I see there on your head?’
In actual fact, during the most difficult years I was so exhausted I often replied to complaints about petty theft with variations on a theme of well-why- didn’t-you-hide-it-better-if-you-didn’t-want-him-to-have-it?
Thus, Tech Support and the Lamington have become Jedi masters of hiding stuff. They both have lots of secret squirrelly places in their rooms, locked chests and boxes of various shapes and sizes. They know that if they consume cola at home, it must first be decanted into a non-transparent, non-cola branded receptacle (and in utmost secrecy, preferably huddled in the pantry or broom cupboard, like an alcoholic filling their water bottle with vodka). They are also across most of my secret hiding places for chips, chocolate and bananas (yes bananas, cos if you put out 9 bananas HC will eat the lot). We are so sneaky that we are still finding stuff we hid back in 2013.
Frequently I’d just shrug my soldiers and explain that we were living in an anarchic social system and that all property is theft.
As you’d expect, my wildly inconsistent parenting really didn’t make life easy for the younger boys. Neither did it make things better for Happy Chin, who badly needed firm and consistent guidance. I knew it, and felt guilty about it but, as I’ve written elsewhere in this blog, I was just too damn tired to address the problem.
When I was feeling strong, I would use negotiation. Trying to grab the object and hide it at speed had proved effective at times, but a high risk activity. If you couldn’t run and secrete it quickly enough, or pass it on to a third party to be hidden, then you were very likely to be bitten or scratched.
Negotiation was slow, but often worked. On several occasions the item was returned voluntarily (usually in exchange for some negotiated treat or privilege). Problem was, it took about 20 minutes and you had to devote yourself entirely to the job, you couldn’t wander off to stir the dinner or the cause was lost.
Getting HC’s brothers to use negotiation was an abject failure. Their favoured method was always to shout for me, grab the item and then slam the bedroom door in HC’s face and lock it. This left me standing outside the door with an irate Happy Chin, waiting for him to pick up the nearest heavy object and hurl it at me.
So it’s no wonder I’d often just say ‘Give him the bloody hat already. You’ve got 17 others for god’s sake!’
So what is the point of this post? The point is that I’ve spent much of my life as a mother trying to make everything all right for everyone. And I couldn’t make it all right, not for a long time. So now I’m trying to make up for all those years where it wasn’t all right by agreeing to be the Hat Police.
Is that it? Have I unpacked my maternal psychopathology? Thanks for listening, you’ve been great. Shall I just pay the receptionist on the way out?