I speak to the trees…

I really am struggling with my five year old.  She is at a stage where she is just not listening.

I know she hears me, it is just that she seems to filter my instruction out. She will often go to do what ever it is that I have asked her to do.  However when I get there to check on what she is doing – I find her dancing around the room with her panties on her head – or what ever – and she has totally forgotten that I sent her to the room to do in the first place.

This was amusing the first dozen times it happened, now it is less so, and has started to really test my patience (of which I had a rather short supply to begin with).

Kennith and I have always admired the independent march-to-her-own-drum spirit that Georgia possesses.  However, when it starts to impact on me getting her dressed and into the car in the morning then I like it a little less.

End of last week there was an incident where she did not do what I had asked/told/instructed her to do.

I had repeated the request at least four times.  When I got to her room I was faced with Georgia doing something totally unrelated to the instruction i.e. get dressed versus have a tea party with your teddy bear, that sort of thing.

(I had asked her at least four times at this point, and Pepe had asked her a further two times – so it was not for lack of instruction or direction – the child was just not doing what she was told!)

Georgia does not respond to threats of “no television” or “naughty chair” or “I am going to burn your Barbie”– threats really do not phase her in the least.  You can actually see the words “see if I care” flash across her face if you threaten to take things away from her.

With Connor, I just threaten to threaten to take away television or send him to his room and he immediately desists from anything and even offers you a back and foot massage as penance.

Anyway the way, to cut a long story short, I had to go into Georgia room with slip-slop in hand and give her a hiding for not listening.

I was more traumatized and I nearly broke a nail.  I think she was upset that she had received a hiding rather than crying because it hurt.  She did not have tears (which she would have had if it was sore) and was more doing a whine-cry for sound and effects.

Unfortunately I can’t say it helped so all the spare-the-rod-fanatics can just please refrain from bombarding me with emails about how I must not smack my child.

This entire week has been an exercise in repeating instructions five times and then going in and screaming at her.  To be honest it has not just been this week, it seems to have got worse over the last six months.

This morning she comes through and asks me to put toothpaste on her toothbrush, which I did.  I then send her on her way to go and brush her teeth, get her hair sorted and take her school bag down to the car.

I finish dressing and doing whatever I need to do.  I go through to the kitchen.  Georgia has not brushed her teeth.  Her hair has not been sorted and she is dancing down the passage with Isabelle and a wet towel.

I grabbed her, did teeth brushing, sorted out her hair and told her to get in the car.

Georgia went down the passage to her room, and returns trying to hide her “pink pig slippers” behind her back. The pig slippers are huge.  An adult would have a problem concealing them – they are has big as you would imagine a large fluffy pig would be if it went on your feet.

Now the issue here is not that she is taking pig slippers to school – but that she had already asked me and I had said no, she could not take them to school.

Now I am really angry – because not only is she being disobedient, but she is being deceitful and really just being a naughty girl on all counts.

I obviously screamed at her to get in the car and then said some unsavory things to just indicate that I was a bit less than happy right now.

I drove to the kids schools.  Connor decided to tell me all about fish (as he has been doing for the last five days, both to and from school – it is this monologue that does not stop.)

What I wanted to say was: “I do not care about fish.  I actually could not care less who lives where and what bait you use to catch them.  Please for the love of God stop telling about about fekn fish when ever your mouth opens!  Can I just have 5 minutes silence in the flipping car so my brain has a moment to think about what I am going to do to punish your sister because she has decided my authority has no value.  For fekn sakes just give me some silence already!”

What I said instead was: “Really?  That is very interesting… mmmmm”

I drop Connor off and then decide to use the few moments of “no fish talk” to reprimand Georgia.

I was not being cruel or over-reactive (which I will admit I can be at times).  I was just explaining how annoyed I was. For effect I closed it off with: “And you are being a very naughty girl!’ and then started the car to get her to her school.

Of course then I thought, imagine if we are in a car accident and I die or she dies and the last memory she has is me telling her she is a naughty girl, how’s that going to be?

I promptly pulled over, and explained that she is doing some really naughty things, and that they are not nice, and that I am very unhappy with her behavior, but that I still love her and she is the best Georgia in the whole wide world.

Mother’s guilt is really quite a strain.

I am not convinced that my heart-felt message hit the spot.  However when I told her we were going away this weekend to Franskraal, she did ask if I was going to leave her behind because she was being naughty.

I am off to find a hair shirt and some form of self-flagellation tool.

Leave a comment


  1. Sam

     /  October 20, 2010

    This is my first time on your blog and I love it already. It all sounds so familiar. I’m probably way behind those who’ve already offered a similar solution but I’m going to offer it anyway. My kids have checklists – morning, afternoon (after school) and evening – of essential tasks like toothbrushing, putting out their school uniform etc. They’re 8 and can read, so that makes it a little easier, but when they were younger we used pictures for each task. We started out with only absolutely essential things and now we add a new task now and then when we feel like they’re ready for it, like straightening out their bed in the morning. They have to tick off each task as they do it. We check the lists when they’re done and their pocket money/outing for the week/other treat is dependent on checklists always being completed. They’re also, for example, not allowed to go and play after school until checklists are complete. So we don’t have to keep specifying a task, we just say ‘is your checklist all done yet?’ It doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does and it certainly helps with morning madness.

    • reluctantmom

       /  October 20, 2010

      Thanks for the idea, I need to give it some thought and how to effectively implement it without me having to police another thing.

      Connor has a checklist of hair, teeth, nose (he needs to clean out his nose with saline to prevent nose bleeds) and school bag and get into the car (this is after he is dressed in his school uniform and breakfast.) Without fail he forgets one of the three.

      This morning it was hair – so today he get’s no television!

  2. Mandy

     /  October 19, 2010

    Totally off the topic, but thanks to all your family pics you have put up I did a double take in the traffic this morning when I found myself driving next to a man in a Polo and I knew I recognised him from somewhere! KENNITH!! WWWhahahahahaha I almost drove into the car in front of me. And no, it’s not a sick thought that I got all excited at the sight of your husband. I just follow your blog on a daily basis and it was so nice seeing one of you guys “in real life”.
    (Yes Kennith that was me in the silver golf, N1just before town, red jersey on…hehehehe)
    But who was the brunette in the passenger seat? ONLY JOKING!

    • reluctantmom

       /  October 20, 2010

      Kennith is about 2 posts away from asking me to remove his name and refer to him only as K or DH ….. the boy is famous by association!

  3. This sounds exactly like Kiara!

    And NOTHING worked with her – I would threaten to take her favourite doll/toy – she would bring it to me and say “take it I don’t like it anyway”. Sticker charts lasted 3 stickers then she would say she doesn’t want a sticker. She doesn’t watch TV. The few times I have smacked have been disastrous – she doesn’t cry and will come and tell ME that she is so angry with ME for smacking her!

    It’s a challenge with her every day! I have no words of advise – we do what can – some days we get it right and other days we dont!

  4. Nicky

     /  October 15, 2010

    I am totally taking some of this advice, especially the chart “rewards” one, and the “drop them off as is”. I have often considered the latter!

  5. The friend that made you do it

     /  October 15, 2010

    Not trying to sound like a parenting expert here. Had the same issue with my dear son. I’d give him an instruction only to later discover that it had been totally ignored. I was at my wits end and was doing the usual ranting about a lack of respect etc. If you think this “disobedience” is unattractive on a 5 year old, you should try it on a teenager! And he’s too damn big to hit without hurting myself! I spoke to his teacher about it just to find out if the same thing is happening at school. His teacher looked at me as if I was totally dumb and stated that the reason I get ignored is not because M chooses to ignore my instructions, he just doesn’t get them. You see, you get 2 different kinds of kids – auditory learners and visual learners. Apparently my son is visual. I now hand him the objects I want attended to or show him what needs doing and VOILA, it actually happens. Maybe you should put Georgia’s hairbrush and toothbrush in her hand and see what happens…

    • reluctantmom

       /  October 15, 2010

      I am drawing flashcards for Georgia as we speak!! Thanks, I will let you know how this works out.

  6. Claire

     /  October 15, 2010

    Oh ya…. also – pick your fights. If the getting dressed/brushed teeth/etc is the most important, focus on that and let the other things go (you can’t fight about absolutely everything or you’ll just be miserable all the time).

    If she ends up at school wearing nothing but pig slippers… well, she’ll decide what she feels is more important 🙂

  7. Claire

     /  October 15, 2010

    The stickers idea is a good one, as is the “tell them once and then drop them off as is” method. I remember when my little brother was young and going to playschool. He was messing around with getting dressed one winter morning and was just playing naked in his room. My mom had enough of telling him to get dressed, and running late, so she said we were leaving NOW! and my brother had to run through the frosty garden to the car butt naked with some clothes in his arms. Given that we were picking up girls in out lift club about 5min away – well, he got dressed super quick! And didn’t do that ever again 🙂

    So perhaps try it out. If Georgia ends up mortified at school, well, the learning will definitely be cemented in her memory. And just in case not, take a photo of her with your phone to show her the next time: “remember what happened the last time you played around like this? Do you want to go to school like that again?”

  8. Tania

     /  October 15, 2010

    This is exactly what I was complaining about in a previous blog post of yours… my son tested us to our wits end last school term, he turned 9 in July. Amazingly enough, through all the not listening, purposely doing exactly the opposite of what he was told, forgetting important daily things at school and home, he achieved 98.6%, 2nd in class, Grade 3, Term 3!!! How the heck he got it right, maybe all the combined hidings, threats, numerous room cleanouts, tv and playstation and Wii withdrawels, lacks of friends, actually worked? I was dreading the start of Term 4… this 1st week back he has attained 3 green dots for completing all work at school, last term, by the end of the 1st week he had already received 2 corrective action notes… We still do not know what actually went right in the end, but are sure grateful something, or, a combination of all, worked. On a more medical point of view, as I considered having him checked out, ears, eyes, concentration, the whole works… perhaps Georgia needs some medical attention? Just watch her, and perhaps its just a bad patch. What starsign is Georgia?

  9. Not sure if it will help for a 5 year old but whenever I feel like I’m going nowhere with Zoe (3 and a half) I resort back to “praise/reward the good and ignore the bad”. I first encountered it when training our puppies at dog school!!! I bring out her reward chart and she gets stickers for whatever it is we’re trying to correct/achieve. Usually it’s good manners or to stop whining or something like that, so whenever she says please and thank you or does something really nice, without being asked, she gets a sticker and she’ll lose a sticker for whining or bad behaviour but the emphasis is obviously on encouraging her to get stickers. A full row of stickers gets a reward. A day or 2 or 3 of that and things are usually back on track.

  10. My mom was a teacher of 3-4 year olds for more that 12 years (insanity). When parents would come to her with the problem of getting their child dressed in the morning she would tell them: Tell your child ONCE brush, hair, teeth and get dressed.
    Warn them that if they do not follow instructions in the allocated time frame you will drop them off at school as is!
    Then give them time to do it.
    If they do not do it, take them as they are ….. PJ’S, green teeth and birds nest hair and put then in the car.
    Ignore the screaming, crying, pleading
    Drop them off at school as is!
    They will only test you once and will not do it again….laughing peers should sort them out!
    Yes you will feel embarressed by your feral looking child, and the other parents tut tuts and head shakes but it may be worth it in the long run.
    My son is 10 months so test it out and let me know how it goes?

  11. Nicky

     /  October 15, 2010

    That bit about mommy’s guilt is oh so true!! I often have fights with my son in the mornings- I have alot to do, so when I ask him nicely to get up and get dressed(I still dress him mostly though, he’s 3 and a bit) I expect him to do that. Some mornings this works like a charm, other’s, not so much. So on the “other ” mornings, we usually end up in a fight. Not physical, but mental! One of us is usually in tears by the end of this, and one of us drives to work in a state of anxiety about what if something happens, and I was horrible to him? I always thought I was the only one, it’s so nice to know that are other’s who think these things as well. I know for sure his dad doesnt think it, lol. What is up with that??

    • reluctantmom

       /  October 15, 2010

      I think moms are just pre-programmed to have excessive guilt – I think we have a guilt gland in our uterus and it bursts the day your egg is fertilised with a sperm and then the guilt just courses through your body, and no amount of reasoning or logic will ever make it go away.

  12. Wendy

     /  October 15, 2010

    I’m afraid it is totally normal behaviour! My 5 1/2 year old daughter does exactly the same thing! If you find a cure, let us know.

    • reluctantmom

       /  October 15, 2010

      I will need to bottle it and sell it in the wine aisle … because I am totally out of ideas right now.


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