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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea