Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The power of chocolate buttons

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Little One stamps the pavement outside our house with her new Startrite shoe. "Don't wanna go to school," she wails. "Got no friends."

"School sucks," agrees her older brother, "but you have to go, otherwise the police will come and arrest Mum." 

Sign saying: All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt

I glance across at him to see if he genuinely believes what he's just said. It appears he does. Wow! Those white lies I used to tell him have still got some mileage. 


Then I kneel down on the pavement next to Little One. "Sweetie, of course you have friends. And school is fun - you learn so many cool things."

"Like what?" she says, sticking out her bottom lip.

"Like that stuff about insects - you know, when you went bug-hunting in forest school..."

"Don't wanna go to school," Little One re-iterates.

It's like groundhog day. Every morning since the start of term she's dug her heels in. Usually, when I've run through all of my motivational statements, the matter is settled with a big fat bribe: the promise of a chocolate bar after school. But I'm beginning to fear for her teeth.

"How about tonight after supper we have a chat about friends and how you can make some new ones?"

Tears well up in her eyes as she scrapes the pavement with the tip of her shiny, new shoe.

"And I'll bring chocolate buttons for you after school," I add wearily.

"Two packets?"

"No! But I'll throw in a lollipop if you promise to try to play with someone at break-time."

The deal is done. She drags her feet and demands five hugs but I manage to drop her off in the classroom. The teacher distracts her with a library book while I whip out of the door before she even looks up. Tough love - though I wipe away a tear of my own as I head homewards.


Mummy's masterclass


Later, after supper, Little One suggests we colour-in while we chat. Her brother (Middle Child) sidles over to the table to check out what we're doing.

"Why don't you join us?" I ask.

He looks doubtfully at the book of pastel-coloured fairies so I suggest he brings some Lego over.

"So... making friends," I start hesitantly, wondering how to launch my masterclass. "First, why don't you tell Mummy who you'd like to be friends with?"

"Mark," answers Middle Child, quick as a flash, his eyes fixed on the Lego bricks.

"Oh, I was talking to... Never mind. Okay, so why do you want to be friends with Mark?"

He shrugs. "Cos he's cool." I raise my eyebrows at him. "And he's funny."

"Great, so if he's funny, all you need to do is laugh at his jokes."

"That's just lame," says my son.

"Okay, so why don't you ask him to come over after school and play on your Nintendo Switchy thing?"

"It's called a Switch," he says, rolling his eyes, although I can tell he's giving the matter some thought.



How to win friends and influence people


"I made a new friend today," pipes up Little One, drawing a moustache onto one of her fairies. "She's called Amy."

"That's brilliant," I say, patting her on the shoulder. "So how did that happen? Did you play with Amy at break-time like I told you to?"

"No, I said she could have some of my buttons after school."

Middle Child and I look at each other across Little One's bent head. "Do you think Mark likes chocolate buttons?" I whisper.

He smiles. "Dunno."

"Too late," says Little One. "Me and Amy finished them all." She sticks her tongue out at Middle Child. "You're a loser!"

Her behaviour shocks me. "Little One! Don't talk to your brother like that. Say sorry!"

"No," she screams, pushing out her chair and running from the room.

"Oh dear," says Middle Child, "looks like her new friend is a bad influence." He gets up to rummage through the kitchen cupboard.

"Fab," I say, running my hands through my hair, "so now I've got to teach her how to break up with her friends too."

"Don't worry, Mum," he says brightly. "You'll be good at that." He pulls out some packets from the highest shelf and tosses one over to me. "Buttons! They'll cheer you up." Then he pops another three into his school bag.

"Hey!" I protest. "That's the end of my bumper pack!"

"For Mark," he says. "Your idea, remember?"



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Hermaphrodite Mum is fictional creation of Emma Clark Lam