Thursday, 22 November 2007

Giving Thanks

I am waiting outside the school gates for my daughter. Four wheel drives hug the pavement, mothers chat and laugh. I have perfected my timing so that I arrive as the children come out, so that I don't need to stand around uncomfortably, not being talked to.

My daughter emerges wearing a cardboard hat, with something dangling from the front. Like one of those American joke caps with the hand and the hammer. It turns out I'm not far wrong. It’s Thanksgiving, my daughter informs me (I would never have known) and they have been constructing headwear all day, with the help of some American mums. It’s a magnificent effort, boasting a spring-loaded turkey head at the front and multi-coloured feather-tail arrangement behind. We set off for home on the Tube and people smile, elderly ladies come up and exchange a few words with my daughter at every opportunity. I seem to have a lot in common with elderly ladies nowadays.

As we enter the Tube my daughter asks what I’ve got for her to eat. I usually give her a little chocolate for the trip home. When I tell her it’s a chocolate fish she suddenly jumps up and down, her hat waving around like a gobbling turkey.
“I don't want a fish.” she shouts. “I want a lolly.”
I tell her she won’t get anything at all if she doesn’t behave herself, which sends her into an even worse tantrum. She jumps up and down on the platform, snot spraying around her face like a New York fire hydrant.
“Right, that’s it, you're not getting anything” I tell her.

She is now too upset to do anything. We sit down and wait for the train. I am stony-faced, she whimpers like a small dog. But I stay firm. We don't talk.

I get her home with a firm grip and the odd command. When we arrive I suggest an apology is in order.
“Sorry daddy.” She says. Then she adds “I want to say something else daddy. It’s not sorry.”
“What is it?” I ask.
“I want to say thank you” she replies.
“For what?”
“For making my food and giving me a bath” she says.

It’s little short of a miracle I think to myself. I ask her why she thought of telling me that.
“I didn't” she says. “My teacher told me to. It’s Thanksgiving. I told you.”

63 comments:

Elsie Button said...

ha ha brilliant, that made me laugh! by the way, did you remain calm during her tantrum and ignore her? I have a feeling that Betty will be the queen of tantrums and so am already thinking up coping strategies!

Elsie Button said...

PS happy thanksgiving!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Ha! I like the 'firm grip' and the 'odd command', I can see your grim, set face, every parent has one don't they?!
A cool story, I can picture the brainstorming session in class, 'now, what can we thank our parents for?'. Springloaded turkey hat sounds worrying.
Pigx

Tina said...

You see when you're bringing up children, you always believe that honesty is a good thing to teach them. Until it isn't. But at least she was honest about a good thing, rather than when my son announced I needed the cream advertised on the TV, because my eyes were black and baggy.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I can't imagine what it must be like to hear something like that from your little girl.
Special.

Nice story.

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Elsie. All true! It's funny when they start tantrums at a young age(as they always will). You find out then how strict a parent you are. If you make a stand then you have to endure a few rows in public to start with, but then it works out. Much like dog-handling I imagine.

Thanks. And you!

Yes, every parent has one. Luckily I don't seem to need it a lot. Looking forward to the turkey hat with a few Brussels sprouts come Xmas...

Stay at home dad said...

Oh poor you Tina! Still, as you say, honesty is preferable, I guess...

Thanks xbox, nice with a twist, as with the rest of childcare...

Jen said...

It made me sad, you standing around "not being talked to". Honestly, I think us women assume that the men standing around don't want to talk to us, is that the case?

So cute that she remembered to thank you, even though she was mad.

lady macleod said...

LOL I love it. It's like the parents' anthem.

I have my favourite photograph of my daughter and I taken when she was nine or so. She has her hands on my shoulders and is looking into my eyes with a mischievous grin. "Oh how I love the way you are looking at me there," I say many years later.

"Mom I just wanted to be done and get out of there," she replies in that tone of rolled back eyeballs.

Such is the life of the parent. Glorious isn't it?

Iota said...

SAHD, this is heartwarming - to know that your daughter is capable of tantrums and spraying snot, and that it happens to you in public. Your posts usually make your life with her sound so idyllic, and her so perfect (not that tantrums and snot rule out perfection, but you know what I mean). And that bit about standing around with no-one to talk to. I guess it happens more to a SAHD than a mum, but it's a feeling we all know. I'm glad your life is reassuringly normal, after all.

DJ Kirkby said...

Lololololol! Children are so funny! Esp when they are other people's children who are having the tantrums in public, obviously...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Your daughter is so sweet. She is heading for a very lucrative career.

Crystal xx

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Jen. I think men do seem threatening in those situations. If it was the other way roud men would be worse, I'm sure...

Glorious Lady M, yes glorious...permanent balloon-pricking.. I like your rolled-back eye tone.

Oh yes, all normal over here. Apart from me, that is. I suppose I write about the nicer stuff because I want to celebrate what is good about my new existence...

DJK. Children are naturally funny yes. It's like verbal slapstick.

CJ, yes, it looks a real possibility!

debio said...

Love the presentation of 'thank you' as if it were homework!

Has she left you with a casual wave and a 'You have a nice day' yet?

You are obviously an expert in tantrum handling.

Stay at home dad said...

No, not yet, Debio! Not an expert, but firm, certainly, and maybe a bit scary too.

Lilly said...

Oh, Thanksgiving is wonderful. I'm so glad your daughter has learnt about it. It's taken me a good ten years in the US to adjust to the new "holiday", but it really is wonderful. It's like Christmas, but without the presents, and everyone stops for a coupla days, to remember why they are thankful. Me? I'm thankful you're still posting. I love reading your stories. Thank you! :)

Stay at home dad said...

Oh psssht Lilly, there's no need to be thankful for that! But thank you anyway.

@themill said...

Thought you'd got lost.
For a short time my entire parenting regime seemed to be a 'firm grip and the odd command' and then, all of a sudden, that phase was past - just like every other.

Stay at home dad said...

I am frequently lost @TM, although nothing a firm grip can't control. So true, so true...

Suffolkmum said...

Fabulous. I have a pretty firm grip and am good at commands too, but I just realised it's been a while since they had to come into play - I've probably jinxed myself now.

merry weather said...

I was at Westonbirt during half-term - love that place! So much energy and calm around those trees - expensive to get in though, it used to be free. Ah well, getting old huh :).

What is it about tantrums and lollies? I have the same problems - my three year old has an iron will but can also surprise me, like your little girl with a sunbeam - lovely moment. Hope the school gates thing improves, I still dread it some days, even after 10 years of hovering there!

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks SM, I hope not. That's what I realised after the event. Although when tiredness strikes...

It was free, MW? I didn't know. It is expensive, but beautiful, as you say. And the new playground is interesting... Thanks on the school gates. Sounds like it might not though!

The Poster formerly known as VI said...

Thank you SAHD for looking in on my blog - not much action going on there, yet so much to tell - no doubt one day the flood gates will open!

Now with regards to this school gates thing -I've belatedly realised - the key to popularity/acceptance is as follows - express a few views (however, they must be negative) on the quality of education offered at expensive nursery/prep school and be forever welcomed in.

There's nothing that a SAHM enjoys more than someone expressing horror, dismay, outrage or disgust at the quality of academic performance or pastoral care offered by the school that they fought tooth and nail to have their children placed in. Under no circumstances must one praise the school - to do so will cast one into the wilderness for ever.

Pleas keep posting - your writing is a pleasure to read as always.

VI

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks VI. Yes, good plan. I think my problem is that I was a bit of a school rebel, so I hate the whole education thing, to be absolutely honest.

Sparx said...

Ah, you're still here! Good to see this and the last post, was wondering if perhaps you'd trailed off the entire blog. Very funny too... not looking forward to the spud arguing with me in public like that... And, so sweet the thanks giving - I love it that after the tribulations she still said it.

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Sparx. No, haven't been blogging or visiting much but doing a little more now. It's not much fun to look forward to, but like most of these things it's usually a result of tiredness, hunger or both...

Omega Mum said...

We went to huge trouble once to make a lovely US themed hat - confident we'd done really well, then turned up at school only to discover ours was the bottom of the range model and that everyone else's kids had hats topped with a complete NY skyscape made out of matches; tableaux vivants, notable moments in history spelled out in maize. It was a bad moment for parenting - mine, at least.

Stay at home dad said...

You should write for the Simpsons. I look at myself as the voice of apathy in a competitive world gone mad...

dulwichmum said...

Thats it. Today shall be Thanks Giving in this house, I have had enough! Great post.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you DM. Yes, more thanks are due. Will come and visit; sorry, not been doing much of that...

Marianne said...

For a moment there, I thought you had the perfect child. One who actually notices what is done for him/her. Thank goodness she's normal.

Stay at home dad said...

Quite normal Marianne! at least not that different to all the others...

Casdok said...

Lovely!

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Casdok. Hope you're well!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Very funny!

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Wakeup!

rilly super said...

stay at home dad, you're so lucky to be able to travel freely around London with a turkey on your head. Sadly the number of folks up here in the north who sometimes forget they have left the grouse moor for the day makes any kind of feathered headwear extremely inadvisable, sigh. Your daughter's turkey hat had made me so very nostalgic...

Stay at home dad said...

How nice to hear from you Rilly. Well yes, lucky in some ways I suppose. Although that journey wasn't very pleasant and was really rather surreal...

Jan said...

Love the NYork fire hydrant!

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Jan. When it blows, it blows!

dh said...

Hi SAHD

dh said...

whoops
Had entirely forgotten user name etc
Anyway lovely to read you again. Tantrums in public - aren't they the best. You were obviously very successful in not having to scoop her up and cart her back like a sack. I was delighted she remembered to say thank you after all that. dh x

Mike said...

Very funny post- I really love your writing, and your love for your daughter (even mid-tantrum) shows through in your writing. She's a lucky girl, tho she doesn't yet know it.
I am sorry that the mums at the school gate don't talk to you. I felt so very guilty a few years ago for not making more of an effort when one father from the school gate took his own life- still wonder if we had reached out more would it have made a difference. They say not, but who knows? mimi not mike

Stay at home dad said...

Hello dh. Yes, it wasn't the most full-blown of tantrums by any means. Nice to see you and thanks for dropping in.

Hi Mimi. That's a very sad story. Poor man. I don't think that would have had any bearing on what happened though. Thanks for your nice comments.

Motheratlarge said...

Beautifully done. Wish I could write like you do.

And haven't we all been there.

Stay at home dad said...

Hello M@L. How nice of you to say ... I wish I had a book deal like you!

Yes we've all been there in one capacity or another.

carrie said...

Well, at least you two made up!

Sory I haven't been around lately - life is very busy!

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Carrie. Haven't been around much myself! Yes, key that isn't it...

Elsie Button said...

SAHD, i pop by from time to time to see if you have written anything new.

I was feeling nostalgic earlier and missing london, and thinking about my old stomping ground. specially as it is coming up to christmas - i love london at christmas. how is the elbow room, and osteria basillico, and the market, and hyde park?

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Elsie. Yes I guess I will miss London at Xmas. We have nearly, nearly sold now so that could be soon... Haven't been to ER for a while but it's been re-painted so it's not purple anymore. The market's as it ever was. There's a fair in Hyde Park which my daughter enjoyed. In every other way though London is getting worse!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Set to the tune of 'Oh where has my little dog gone'

(join in with the bits you know)

'Oh where o where has dear SAHD gone?

Oh where o where has he gone?

Oh-o where o where has dear SAHD gone?

Oh where o where has he gone?
Pigx

Stay at home dad said...

Happy Christmas Pig!

The Poster formerly known as VI said...

Sorry to see that there is no Christmas special from SADH -although in my case it is definitely kettle calling pot.......

Have a good Christmas SADH and hope to hear more from you in the New Year!

Best wishes to everyone else too.

Jan said...

Merry Christmas SAHD!

merry weather said...

Happy Christmas!

Stay at home dad said...

Happy Christmas everyone and enjoy ... a New Year special maybe?

Belle said...

I'm sorry I haven't stopped by to read in such a long time!
Your post sounds as though you and your daughter are getting along fantastically like a father and daughter should. I'm always happy to read about other children's temper tantrums, because even if you know that all children have those, you still feel like the only parent in the world this happens to when you're in the supermarket and your child is lying on the floor kicking his legs :)
And yes, you are the food-maker and the bath-runner. Until she becomes a mother herself. Deal with it ;)

Jan said...

Happy New Year to a rather quiet SAHD!

The Grocer said...

Best wishes for 2008, blog again soon the male company is good.
Regards
Alan

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Belle. Yes we get along just great, er sometimes. Maybe most of the time. Thanks for dropping in and hope to see you again soon...

HNY Jan and the Grocer. New Year's resolution: guess!

Jen said...

There is something for you on my blog. Happy New Year!

Stay at home dad said...

Hello Jen. Thank you, I will come and visit... And happy new year!

Anonymous said...

That made me laugh. A lot. Your daughter sounds brilliant, and your writing really gets to the heart of it. Sorry not to add a name but I really prefer to be anonymous - but I've added a link to you on my blog: adoptivedad.wordpress.com [please edit this last sentence out].