Family Life: A battle of wills

A battle of wills between a four year old and his parents

Am I going to get up today or just stay in bed?  I know I should get up, but is it worth it?  What harm would it do to stay here, all cosy and snug for the whole day.  Would anyone really notice if I skipped life for the day?  It’s a common thought that runs through my head and, I am sure many other people’s. If it isn’t the battle between doing stuff and staying in bed it’s the battle between doing the right thing or the easy thing, eating the banana or the cake, driving to the corner shop or walking.

Living with a child brings a whole different level of battles.  Am I going to let him eat chips again for dinner, or actually try to get him to eat broccoli?  Is he going to watch Ninjago all evening until he falls asleep on the sofa, or am I going to get him to paint a picture or have a chat with me.  Can I really be bothered to remind him to flush the toilet for the 1000th time, or will I just do it later when I visit it myself?

These are the important battles.  The skirmishes that make the adult.  A fight avoided now is probably going to be so much worse 10 years down the road, so do the right thing, make him flush the toilet, eat the broccoli, paint a picture and talk to me, damn it.

But there are other battles that we choose to have that aren’t important.  Battles that we encourage because it is safe to lose them.  We pretend to fight them because it makes our 4-year-old think he is winning something and there are as many lessons to be learned from victory as defeat; persistance, confidence, achievement.

A castle has a roof

Warwick castle: not much of a roof

Warwick Castle: A proper castle

A year and a half ago we were in the UK and visited Warwick castle, apparently one of England’s the finest examples of medieval castle.  After a long day, we were back home when Mr T decided to build a castle out of lego and elisted my help.  We had a wall and a jail and place for the birds of prey to fly when we hit a snag: not enough lego to put a roof on.  Being born and brought up in the UK, I obviously know a thing or two about castles, so I proudly told Mr T that it wasn’t a problem as castles don’t have rooves.

The look I got was enough to turn lava to ice.  Of course castles have roofs, hadn’t we just been to a castle and gone inside some rooms to look at boring rooms made up to look like boring stuff from a long time ago?  I countered that these rooms were just the living quarters and that most of the castle didn’t have roofs.

Other people were enlisted to the argument.  The people who claimed castles had roofs were congratulated and told they know everything.  Woe betide the person who disagreed and said a castle didn’t have a roof as they were told they know nothing and ignored at best, or laughed at at worst.

Nottingham Castle prooves castles have roofs

Nottingham Castle: It doesn’t look like a castle to me, but it does have a roof.

The argument has rumbled on since then, rearing its ugly head every so often on a Skype chat or during a Robin Hood cartoon.  I gave in recently when we saw two castles in a week, both of which had roofs. Before visiting Legoland we had a look at Windsor castle from the outside.  Lots of roofs were clearly visible.  And thanks to Robin Hood we had to see Nottingham castle as well, this time from the inside.  It was warm and boring inside the castle, thanks in no small part to the roof that kept out the cold and protected boring pictures.

It was no use me telling him that Nottingham castle wasn’t really a castle, that it was re-built in the late 1800s.  Nor that Windsor, as the Queen’s home is a special case.  I had to give in to the unerring logic of a 4-year-old.  “See daddy, that’s a roof.  It’s on a castle.  All castles have roofs!  You know nothing!’

Where should the rug go?

Just after the castle problem started off we moved into our current house.  As everyone knows, houses are always a work in progress as they are never quite finished.  A few months after we moved in my wife bought a couple of rugs for the hallway upstairs.  They don’t run the whole length of the hallway, on purpose, I think, so there is a gap between them and at the ends.

At least, that was my wife’s plan.  But my son has a different understanding of hallway aesthetics.

He thinks it is much better for one of the rugs not to have between itself and the bathroom door, so as soon as his mother put it down he moved it to lie snug against the door.  She saw this later in the day and moved it back to her preferred position, only to wake up in the morning and find it back up against the door.

It has become a joke now.  Whenever one of them sees it in the wrong place they move it either with a knowing smile on her face or a resigned shake of his head.  I play no part in any of this, except for occasionally pointing out to Mr T that his mamãe has moved it again or telling tales on my son.

This particular battle is still being played out, with no sign of a winner.

In this battle of wills you have to pick the battles you think you can win, or the ones that are worth fighting for.  And sometimes, you start a battle just for the hell of it.

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