parenting by the book?

When I doubt, buy a book. Recipe books, gardening books, how-to books. I’ve got a book called, How to Write a Sentence; and How to Read One. I haven’t read it yet. I have three sons so naturally I have Steve Biddulph’s, Raising Boys. Of course, I haven’t seen it since we moved, so for years I’ve been going solo. Last week I bought a book called, Tricky Kids, by Andrew Fuller.

Not naughty kids, problem kids, tricky. All people are tricky. I like the title, it suggests depth, a degree of unknowing, and ideas. Just like a person, really.

Did you ever sit in on a three-person conversation where in the wash-up you find you’ve heard one thing and the other person you’re with heard something all together different? That was me, and my middle boy, PVP, after our parent-teacher discussion a couple of weeks ago.

He heard, good score on your maths test, good running on the treadmill, good that you read so much, mate. Good things and that’s great.

I heard, needs to sit still, needs to join in, needs to do what he’s asked when he’s asked and leave his computer alone.

So I bought a book, Tricky kids because when all else fails, throw money round a bookshop. It was on my bedside but I’ve hidden it now because Stephen King Junior saw it. As if I need that tricky kid reading my Holy Grail. If there are any secrets in Tricky Kids the last person in the world who should know them is SKJ, his rings around me will become twice as fast and hard. The book says that once a kid is capable of doing something you should never do it for him.

Parenting books are so Ideal World.

If I don’t get their lunches made, do all that morning stuff, we’ll never get out the door. And it’s not the kid they ring up and blame for lateness, truancy, it’s the parents, usually the mother.

Have you ever noticed when the Nobel Prizes are handed out nobody says, and where was his mother when all this happened?

Anyway, back to Tricky Kids.

He is a tricky kid, PVP. All my sons have had and will continue to have tricky moments. I have my moments. Ask my partner, he’ll tell you. At our place we have our moments in patches. We have plenty of quiet, incident free days in and then splat, things are off, I’m driving around worried, I chew my lip, getting a headache, wondering what the hell to do next.

So this Tricky Kid. He’s in his first year at high school, and he says he loves it. From what his teachers say it doesn’t look like he’s loving it, he’s stubborn, withdrawn, and nobody knows him much. If he doesn’t participate more nobody will ever now how great he is.

Plus, his handwriting is as messy as his hair and maybe the look of him, a little untidy, a little junior, puts people off. In my weeks of worrying quietly to myself, I considered getting him an extreme, adult, high-fashion haircut. He could look older, more together. Like that would help a look is only a look.

I sat on the parent-teacher discussion stuff for days. Didn’t talk to PVP about it because I wanted to get my head around it, make sure I picked the right words, and I didn’t talk to his Dad about it. Cowardly behaviour, really. I’m not into confrontation, I have anxiety, a little, and those difficult discussions can tend toward shouty. I don’t think my husband reads the blog so I may never have to tell him. Wrong. Of course I have to tell him. And I will.

And the Tricky Kid. My middle boy is bright enough to know that some of his behaviour at school needs work. He’s thirteen, hormonal, capable of much but wanting more, he’s living some frustrating days. I remember days like that. He’s a slow-burn this kid, he does well but in his own time and own way. I just have to stick with and him with me. He’s loving, the best cuddler, he’s writing, reading, and best, he’s talking to me. He’s a terrific, tricky person.

Tricky Kids isn’t reinventing the wheel. I’ve had a quick look through it (it’s in point form, you can dip into it, dip out) and much of it is common sense. But common sense is like wallpaper, it fades into the background, gets swallowed by prettier, flashier things, sooner or later, it becomes uncommon. A reminder doesn’t hurt.


not so tricky

4 thoughts on “parenting by the book?

  1. Great to see you ‘blogging’ again bike girl. Go girl, go! Can’t wait for that next book. So the boys keep you busy. I’m an older artist and remember my kids when I did Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) in the late 70s. I swear they read the handbook. Keep on blogging. You’re tops. Alex

    • i remember suddenly having family meetings! a type of democracy that was cringe-worthy and never really worked. somebody always spilled their water and then my mother would say, that’s the last time we have water at the table! til the next time. she’s good my mother. positive enough to try again. x

  2. I liked this post and equally like the title of that book.
    It has given me food for thought regarding my own kids – one in particular. It becomes hard to see the good that is (hopefully) still in them when become tricky, trickier….all the way to impossible. Thanks for the insight.

    • Thank you for commenting. It’s way more positive to think of them as tricky at times, isn’t it? Nearly tricky, quite tricky, tricky extra tricky. People are tricky. Here’s to not too many tricky days.

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