Living on Lord Howe Island

Jan
05

Keeping score

Posted by Dani Rourke – Monday, January 05, 2015

Dad has been naughty!

Have you ever noticed how often your kids copy you? It can be disconcerting, embarrassing or downright humiliating at times. Before we had kids of our own, I remember our friends’ little boy putting his red balloon in the naughty corner in the kitchen and making it stay there for quite a long time, shouting at it if it moved. When he was a bit bigger, the same little boy said to Luke with a sigh: “I’ve been playing all day. I just want to sit down by myself and put my feet up for five minutes”. Of course, it sounded just like his mum after a long day at work. We looked at her straight away and it must have been an accusatory sort of look. She blushed and quickly changed the subject and sent her little boy off to wash his hands and have some afternoon tea.

It’s my turn to squirm now. Elsie has just finished her first year of school and her school report said something like: ”Elsie is an eloquent speaker and she enjoys imparting snips of interesting events in her life to the rest of the class”. Help! What has she been telling them? There must have been quite a few stories about how naughty Pixie is. I tell those ones too. However, I suspect that there have also been lots about me yelling, crying, running late, serving the same thing for dinner 4 nights in a row, letting the washing pile up and generally failing to be a good mother. What will they think of me? I must try to do a bit better at home next year, before Elsie starts writing it all down in a diary.

When I was cleaning up at home the other day, I found a coat hanger in the girls’ cupboard, decorated with lots of coloured stickers. The stickers came from one of Nanna’s projects. She gave Elsie a decorative box with a couple of drawers in it, the sort of thing that little girls use for keeping their ever-expanding collections of Barbie shoes, colourful jewellery and glitter pens. The box came with a decorating kit and easy sticker-by-numbers instructions. Elsie made a beautiful pattern by sticking the pink stickers on the little boxes labelled with a 1, the blue stickers on the boxes labelled with a 2 and so on. After Elsie tired of the project, the stickers were everywhere: under the table, in the paper bin, on the soles of my feet, in bed and inside the washing machine. I couldn’t get rid of them. So I wasn’t really surprised to see a coat hanger with stickers on it. What did surprise me was that Elsie piped up and said: “That’s the star chart I keep for Dad. When he’s good I give him a gold star. If he’s been angry with me, he gets a dark pink dot. The pale pink ones are for days when he made me do a swimming lesson and I didn’t want to”.

I hope she doesn’t take it to school for show and tell.

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About Dani Rourke

HELP! I have 2 children, 25 staff and up to 75 guests. I was a lawyer for 10 years, but escaped. My husband and I moved from Sydney to beautiful Lord Howe Island to run Pinetrees Lodge, which has been in my family for 6 generations. I'm writing about family business, island life and the whole work/family disaster. Did someone say balance? When I'm not writing, my lovely staff do it for me - they see more of the island than I do.

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