Man's World

A FRIEND told me that a standard conversation he has with his young daughter goes like this: "Sarah, don't do that," - at which Sarah carries on playing with the scissors. "Sarah, don't do that," he repeats, still producing no response.

"Sarah," he says, more sternly, "I'm warning you that I will get cross if you continue to play with those scissors." No response. "Sarah," he continues, "I will get very, very cross if you don't put those scissors down now." Again, no response, so my friend screams: "PUT THOSE BLOODY SCISSORS DOWN NOW YOU HORRIBLE LITTLE PEST!"

Then she, wailing hysterically, says: "Why did you get cross at me?"

My own children sometimes do what I tell them, but only if the instruction coincides with their own desires. I can never get them to do something that they don't actually want to do. But then again, I lack natural authority. If I might draw an analogy from the early Seventies LWT sitcom, Please Sir, then I'd be like Cromwell, the weak headmaster. All Cromwell had to do to cause a riot in form 5c was to walk into the classroom, and all he had to do for it to cease was to walk out.

Or, to take a more modern analogy, I feel, when dealing with my sons, like world leaders dealing with Saddam Hussein. My boys, in fact, have a sinister affinity with the Iraqi dictator, and it might be quite useful for statespersons trying to get to grips with the Butcher of Baghdad to have some sessions interacting with them. They would observe in my sons the same pattern of provocation, leading to reaction, leading to furious denunciation of that reaction, all interspersed with frequent demands for the reconstitution of the United Nations. (I'm only joking about that last bit, actually).

You'd think that, on becoming a father, you'd acquire some natural authority. It seems only fair. But all I've acquired is a knack for imaginative bribes and ridiculous threats. "If you don't go back to bed," I'll say to my two-year-old as he starts parading about the house at 4am, "I will ... call the police."

"You're not in charge," he'll indignantly reply, and how right he is. As to who is in charge ... I don't really know - perhaps my wife, who keeps the children in better order than I do, maybe because she's forever "respecting their feelings".

The other day, for example, my two-year-old was leaping off a high chair onto a pile of cushions located right next to a sharp table corner. "Stop being an idiot!" I shouted, to which my wife said: "Don't say that. He is not an idiot!"

But if leaping onto an unstable pile of cushions right next to a sharp edge doesn't constitute idiocy, then what does? That action might, surely, constitute the classic definition of idiocy in its purest form.

But then what do I know? I'm only their father.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 1 Teacher

    £90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting...

    Year 5 Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is currently recruitin...

    Early Years Teacher

    £90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

    .NET Developer - .NET & SharePoint - Coventry

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + bonus: Ampersand Consulting LLP: .NET a...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?