Wednesday, 12 September 2012

In which I hone my parenting skills

On Saturday night my older sister genorously gave the husband and I an opportunity for some bonding-time with my nephews whilst her and my brother-in-law dragged themselves off to a wedding.

Being the wonderful sister that I am I requested no more payment than two hearty steaks and access to their wine collection, and on that the deal was struck.

Things have moved on considerably since the last time I blogged about babysitting. I didn't have to contend with tears and tantrums. Bedtime seemed pretty straightforward.

I read the younger chap a couple of stories and taught him how to read the word "pop" - or at least shout the word POP enthusiatically everytime I pointed at a word and said "Now you know what this says don't you?".  I also seem to have inadvertently taught him that spheres are called Sofias. Oh well, you can't win everything.

The older fellow declared himself too grown-up for bedtime stories (he is six after all) and took himself off to read a chapter of his book. How well I remembered the feeling as he begged me, come lights out time, to let him finish his chapter.

I did.

He put the book down. I forced an Aunty Lizzie kiss on both nephews and left closing the door behind me

Rather than go downstairs immediately I espied my sister's computer and allowed myself a little time with the internets. The computer is in full view of their bedroom door, (this become relevent in a moment).

No sooner had I start to type than I noticed that, v e r y  q u i e t l y, the boy's bedroom door was being opened. The older boy popped his head out of the door and froze for a second when he saw me looking right back at him.

"Um ... Mummy lets us leave the door open a bit" he lied quickly, if unconvincingly.

The other day I was trying to explain to my Italian work colleague the meaning of the phrase "teaching your Grandmother to suck eggs." A more apt phrase nowadays would be "teaching Aunty Lizzie to read after lights out." From an early age I learnt all the tricks:
  • Read by the hall light coming through the bedroom door
  • Read by the moonlight
  • Turn the bedroom light on but shove a towel under the door so my parents didn't see that my light was on
  • Buy a torch, read under the bedclothes
  • Go to the loo and sit on it, reading, until my arse was indelibly marked with a ring.
I decided to let it go for another ten minute or so. Until the younger boy came out of the bedroom to tell me that his brother was reading. So much for an easy life.

"Right you two, in bed. If either of you get up again I am  confiscating the book."

They meekly agreed.

And promptly forgot about my vantage point at the computer when, 30 seconds later, the older one eeeked open the door again.

Once confronted he begged me to let him finish his chapter.  My heart isn't made of ice - I get that - so I magnanimously agreed that he could read sitting on the top of the stairs.  I left him, after checking what page his chapter finished on - I hadn't forgotten the "sneak-onto-the-next-chapter-and-claim-I-was-on-that-one-all-along" trick.

He finished and went to bed.

Two minutes later the door opened again. He might be able to read but I sometimes wonder if he really is the brightest torch in the bedroom.

"Right that is it, I am confiscating the book until tomorrow"

"But, but, but Mummy let's me start reading again at 6:31 in the morning" the 6 year old wailed knowing full well I wouldn't be around at that ungodly hour to hand over the contraband goods.

 "I will leave it outside your door when I go to bed, so you can get it in the morning."

 I left. Shut the door in my best firm-but-loving Mary Poppins manner and tried to continue my important internetage.

You guessed it.  Not 30 second had elapsed before their bedroom door opened again.  The younger one yelling, like the snake in the grass he is, "Aunty Lizzie he's got up again" the older one shiftily peeking out of the door.

"I'm just going to the loo" he said with exasperation, and added with not a little bit of desperation, "but you said you'd leave the book outside my door."

"I said I'd do that when I go to bed not now because you might sneak out and grab it again." I said pointedly.

There were no more disturbances and I spent the remainder of my babysitting reading "Beast Quest: Mortaxe The Skeleton Warrior" suitable for children aged 7+.

It is no Enid Blyton, I'll tell you that for nothing.


  1. Go to the loo and sit on it, reading, until my arse was indelibly marked with a ring.

    I still remember clearly one Easter (the last Easter that I was happy wearing a dress for Easter. The Easter that I got a beautiful metal garbage can covered in a flower motif for my bedroom. The year I had a beautiful Easter hat with long ribbons that no one believed didn't go in front, because what was the point of ribbons and bows if they hung down the back where no one could see them?) when I headed off to go to the bathroom while at my grandparents' house, and brought a book a long as usual. I hadn't realized just how long I was in there until my mom tapped on the door to inquire if I was ill.

  2. I was a huge reader, but I never wanted to stay up past my bedtime to do so. I guess it's because I shared a room, and was too polite. Even though my sister was a raging lunatic.

    Your nephew was pretty sly. I have high hopes for him driving his parents crazy in the teenage years (and then creating brilliant excuses when he gets caught)...although it sounds like his little brother will rat him out on every occasion!

  3. I never thought of turning the light on and putting a towel at the bottom of the door. Reading by moonlight was my normal thing!

  4. Love this post and that little boy's need to keep reading. I was (am) an avid reader too, one lucky enough to be bestowed with a walk-in closet as a child. A perfect cozy little nook for late-night reading, no under-door-towel-stuffing needed.

  5. This is fantastic! I remember these tricks too. And love to hear of a little boy who loves reading.

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