I am typing this post with extreme difficulty on my son's tiny little computer, which is the perfect size for his tiny little hands, but ridiculously inadequate for my huge ones (okay, so my hands are actually pretty tiny too, but considerably bigger than his). To frustrate and demoralise me further, the cursor on his computer is a bright green dinasaur who refuses to point in the direction I want him to point, and then morphs mockingly into a monkey whenever I manage to wrangle him into position. And when I click, he becomes a banana. This is what I have to deal with.
And all the while, my son is cheerily tapping away on my perfectly large and lovely computer in the very next room. Which HAPPENS TO BE MY OFFICE. Did I mention I'm sitting at the kitchen bench?
So why am I working under these absurd conditions? Well, the truth of the matter is, my son asked to use my computer, and I have simply forgotten how to say no. In fact, I have forgotten how to parent, fullstop. This is the sad legacy of staying with my parents at the coast for a week. I can no longer remember how to manage my own children.
When I stay with my parents, I relinquish all parenting duties. I sleep in, and let my parents get the kids up, dressed and fed. I allow my mother to make meal suggestions and helpfully grate carrots for the salad as she prepares the rest of the food. I nap during the day whilst my parents take the kids for a walk. And then I lounge on the couch watching 'The Mentalist' until my parents have enough of the children and decide to put them to bed.
Now, obviously I am doing this all for my parents' sake. It makes them feel young and vibrant and needed, to be so hands on with their grandchildren. And it's wonderful for my kids to have such a close relationship with their Nana and Papa. I am being selfless by allowing them all to interact in this way.
But I suffer for it. Truly, I do.
Because child rearing is like a muscle. If you don't exercise it every day, it withers and dies. So when I return home, I am incompetent and hesitant. I don't know how to discipline. I can't remember how to cook. I forget to do the laundry. And I desperately crave my nap during the day.
Three year old Boo approaches. "I want choccie NOW!" she says. I stare at her blankly. I know there is some appropriate parental response (like "NO" or "Later") but I can't remember it. "Okay," I say.
Nine year old Pinkela has been playing Nintendo for four hours. I seem to recall something about that being bad for her, but have no idea what to do about it. I pat her on the head and go read the paper.
And my eleven year old son has taken over my computer. I know this is unfair. I know he has his own computer and that he should leave mine alone - or at least ask permission before he takes it over. But I can't seem to get it back. I sigh deeply and resign myself to the dinasaur-monkey.
But all is not lost. For my son has just told me he's finished with my computer. I am allowed to use it now.
This parenting gig is easy, after all.