Parenting: Pick Your Battles Wisely

Warning to all parents: if you’re like me, when I’m feeling sick I lack the energy required for the usual daily confrontations with my kids. Who has the inclination to fight about eating broccoli when you’re already fighting the flu? As a result, if I’m battling a low immune system, I choose wisely which parenting battles to fight and which ones to let go. Or in some cases, I choose unwisely.

One Friday afternoon, after school pick up, I plonked my sick self on the couch. “Girls, I’m not well,” I said to my five and six-year-old. “I’m going lie down and watch a movie. Why don’t you go and play in the playroom?”

“Can we watch the movie too?”

“No, it’s a boring movie for adults.”

“Please Mum.”

“You won’t like it.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s not appropriate for your age.”

“What’s it called?”

“The Book Thief.”

“Please Mum.” They jumped up and down like pogo sticks.

“Go and jump on the trampoline instead.”

“We don’t want to. We want to watch the movie.”

It’s about then that I gave up. Call me a bad parent, but I didn’t have the fortitude for a fight. Besides, I assumed they’d get bored of the film soon enough and walk away. Alternatively, I could hit the Pause button on the remote if things got too graphic. The movie might even provide them a good history lesson on WWII. And so the three of us shared the sofa and a bowl of popcorn.

The Book Thief

My children clearly had more stamina than me that Friday afternoon, because they sat through the entire movie, tirelessly asking questions about the Holocaust and sympathising with the Jews hiding in basements. Considering I didn’t have to move my lethargic body from the couch all afternoon, it went pretty well. Until a few days later.

My girls were jumping on the trampoline after school, talking to one another at decibels high enough to be heard across a football field, just in case the whole neighbourhood was interested in joining their game.

“I’ll be the Jew and you can be the Nazi,” said my eldest.

I stopped breathing. Oh God, I thought, what on earth have I started? I guess the neighbours won’t want to join my daughters’ game after all.

In hindsight, that movie battle was one I should have fought more wisely.