The rules of parenting are ever changing. What was a constant just yesterday can be erased from all existence in the blink of an eye without so much as a by your leave. And then re-instated just as quickly.
Take carrots for example.
Moo used to love carrots when she was smaller and less argumentative. Just about every meal would involve some kind of carroty overtones, be it mashed, diced, raw, boiled or lovingly sculpted to form the beard of a Scottish giant on her plate ( a particularly fine, if not altogether traditional, burns supper one year).
And then one day without warning or reason the presence of anything orange was banished entirely from her diet. It took me a little by surprise, but there weren’t that many foodstuffs that fell into the category so I did what any battle scarred parent should do in these circumstances and gave in entirely to her whim.
Gradually over the course of the next few months a few delicacies were subtly re-introduced. The humble pre peeled satsuma, red Leicester cheese grated cunningly into mash and the lure of the lurid cheesy wotsit crisp proved too tempting for her temporary titian tinted tantrums.
I was feeling particularly pleased with my tactics and decided that the time was ripe for the re-introduction of our long lost carroty companion. And I felt sure that the carrot stick hedgehog ensemble I had crafted for snack time would be a triumphant success.
I was spectacularly incorrect and it took me almost a week to discover the locations of the full complement of carrot stick prickles.
Occasionally I tried offering carrots as a accompaniment at meal times only to be met with scorn, derision, accusations of mental incompetence and occasionally an almost polite ‘no’. And so once again I gave up. I just didn’t cook carrots in the end it was easier that way. Then one day I had some carrots on my dinner – as a treat- and she looked at them and asked me rather indignantly why she didn’t get any.
‘You don’t like carrots’
‘Yes I do’
‘No- you don’t’
‘You never give me any carrots, I love carrots, I always eat them’
‘You always used to, then you stopped’
‘No I didn’t. I love carrots’
‘Since always, you just never give me any’
You haven’t eaten a carrot for six months. Every time I have even mentioned the word carrot you have treated me to such delights as fake vomit at 100 db, outbursts worthy of the possessed and recriminations to the point where I haven’t even dared to utter the word in case you thought I was trying to force feed you a damned carrot, and now you are sitting here in front of me looking at me with your best ‘duh’ face on because I hadn’t read into the deepest chasms of your twisted psyche and located the exact whim that decided that you might fancy a bit of mashed bloody carrot with your tea tonight.
That is what I wanted to say but what I actually said was
‘Do you want some carrot then?’
‘Yes please, I love carrots’
The only hard and fast rule of being a parent is that the rules can be changed. And the only thing you can do to keep a small portion of your sanity intact is try not to act too bewildered when they do.