It was a pivotal moment. The Wiggles were on the CD player, father and son were dancing. Then son, all of three years and two months old, stopped dancing. Not the first time he’s lost interest, it was what followed that was the defining move. He went to the CD player, pressed eject and proceeded to replace The Wiggles with The Avalanches.
Yes, he’s starting to grow up and, as a dad, I’m going to have to deal with it. So I’ve decided to keep an eye on certain telltale signs of increased maturity.
An increase in subtlety. Or, not to put too fine a point on it: greater cunning. Your child has realised the up front and stamping feet approach does not often work. So the winning smile, eyes looking up at you in a manner reminiscent of Princess Diana talking to Martin Bashir, and the long ‘pur-lease’ are all employed to continue to ensure that you spend the majority of your time wrapped around their little finger. While you let this happen as it’s preferable to the tantrum, you console yourself that you’re not really being conned – because you have spotted it. However, there are more devious ruses operated by your child. Maybe I’m overly suspicious, but I am starting to believe that my son is using his building blocks to give me subliminal messages. Which brings us to…
Bedtime. This is the time when the use of subtlety/cunning is at its highest. It is no coincidence that, after bath, with supper already taken and teeth cleaned, your child chooses that precise moment to demonstrate their new found reading or recitation skills. They know you can hardly stop them reading mid-flow, or interrupt the unusually cute rendering of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. And you’re so pleased they can actually count to 100 you fail to notice the only occasions they ever choose to do this are those final seconds before they’re meant to be asleep*.
Independence of thought. This has started to manifest itself during bedtime stories, for instance. These days, when the tale of The Three Little Pigs is being regaled, the wolf ends up being invited into each of the houses and offered pasta for his dinner.
None of the get out clauses or bribes works any more. When chocolate buttons begin to no longer cut it, you’re in trouble. The next thing, they’ll not fall for the old “we’ll do it another day” line, either.
Greater inquisitiveness. That leads to harder questions to answer. Such as why, in Peppa Pig, do all the animals have their own pets? It’s a good question. I’m dreading the teenage years…
Remonstration. There’s going to be a point in the not too distant future when I’m going to have to explain why blowing raspberries is not funny in certain circumstances. I suspect I shall have to admit I was in the wrong.
More confidence. This will hopefully start to show in social situations, such as at parties. And it will lead to a greater sense of adventure. You’ll start to spot the signs at the playground when they no longer require your constant presence by their side. There will come a point when you have to accept you don’t need to stand under them on the climbing frame just in case they fall. I’m guessing it’ll be when they reach 16.
*Stealth boast alert
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