Do you ever feel like smiling when your kids are acting out? I know that might sound like a weird reaction, but if yours are anything like mine, you may relate to this. From time to time their attempts at throwing the mother of all strops result in me catching a fit of the giggles. I could laugh until my sides split at some of the oh so serious faces they pull. I appreciate that this is not the response of a sensitive and nurturing parent. But I’m only human. And their expressions are to die for. And on some days I feel I am touching hysteria myself.
Admittedly I restrain myself if I sense their outburst is coming from a place of deep upset. And this can be in relation to the simplest of things. My daughter erupted the other day because little brother had disrupted the precision-made fairy bed she had set up on the coffee table, complete with acorn cups. She was seriously affronted and close to acute internal devastation. Clearly, a light chuckle from me was not appropriate at this juncture.
Yet sometimes … well, frankly they are just faking.
And they know it, and I know it.
And they know that I know it.
A gentle upturn of the corner of my mouth is enough to reveal the true nature of their actions, as they invariably redouble their efforts to gain my attention, with a challenging look in their eyes that dares me to proceed. So I do. For these instances I have developed an effective arsenal of responses:
- A skeptical look and a grin – is often enough to diffuse the situation and send them happily away to seek out mischief elsewhere
- Pulling their face back at them and then laughing out loud – shows them how ridiculous they look, and can lead to a fun gurning session
- A declaration of war – in the form of a challenging “You are SO faking right now!” can often set them giggling too. When swiftly followed by tickling and a little play-fight this settles things down nicely
- I do the Strop – depending on the severity and nature of the fake, the kids have a great line in hopping from foot to foot, or stamping their feet. Copying this can infuriate or delight them in equal measure, but usually makes them laugh in the end. One time my girl actually went on to make a little dance routine out of it. This, of course, was a very serious business. No chuckling allowed.
Some days life can feel a little heavy. I like to lighten the mood when I can, and most of the time the children appreciate this. At least, I think they do! I’m sure they’ll let me know when they have therapy later in life. By which time I’ll be so old I won’t care, and will have perfected my own version of the geriatric strop. Funny how life goes full circle!