Creating a rod for our own backs?

“Please can I have an apple that I can see through?” was the latest school snack request from my youngest.  My husband thought I was nothing short of a lunatic when he came into the kitchen to see me wrestling with an apple and chopping it in half by accident. Thankfully it was still acceptable on a technicality: you could still see through it if you held the two halves together. Phew.

Despite these production challenges, I’m resisting the temptation to buy an apple-corer for two reasons: (1) it would feel a little ridiculous to fill our kitchen drawer with more stuff in order to panda to the latest whim; (2) the whim is likely to go as quickly as it came (and even quicker if I spend any time or money on it…). But somehow, recognising that doesn’t stop me from doing it. I guess there are many times in the day when I tell him ‘no’, so I take the policy that if I can say ‘yes’, I do. No doubt this is at some level guilt-fuelled – I want him to know that I’m listening and that I care.

I had thought that kids would grow out of toddler foibles by the time they got to school, but as I’ve written previously, my kids expect a different level of ‘service’ from me than they do from my husband.  My husband’s approach is a very simple ‘don’t go there in the first place’, in his mind, I’m creating a rod for my own back. You can also bet your bottom dollar that no kid in the 1950s asked his/her parent for an apple they could see through – they’d have been happy with an apple full stop.

The ridiculous nature of what I was doing reminded me of this picture that I saw recently on the internet (credited to Bunmi Laditan) which made me laugh:

rod for own back blog.jpg

The growth of this ludicrous list is probably to over-compensate for parental guilt – caused by the pressures of modern-day life – at the same time that parenting trends are becoming more exacting. One in three families have both parents working full time, families now eat fewer meals together and spend less time together in general – although this effect is more pronounced the wealthier you are.

I’m assuming that my son is asking me for bespoke snacks as a way of testing his power.  My eldest was given a quartered apple every day for the two years that preceded his brother joining him at school and during that time he never asked for anything else (a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’!). In contrast, my youngest had only been to school for a couple of weeks before he decided that a standard apple was out. He’d clocked other people’s snacks, so wanted novelty, variety (and what everyone else had…): Dailylea Dunkers, breadsticks, Cheddars, Ritz crackers, cheese and biscuits, even sandwiches.

Since he’s in the slip-stream of his older brother, he probably wants to feel unique, exert influence and test out how much we’re prepared to do for him. Whilst I draw the line at making sandwiches for snacks, I figure that a spot of apple-art seems like a small adjustment to make. Especially if it encourages fruit-eating and makes him feel good in the process.

I could be wrong and he’s just a little tyrant, turning me into his willing servant – but elsewhere I see other parents doing similar things.  Not so long ago, I read an article about a mum talking about why she still brushes her nine-year-old daughter’s hair.  It’s the same with my seven-year old’s bedtime stories which he continues to enjoy, despite being able to read to himself. Whilst these things may sound unnecessary, I’m sure they reflect a similar pattern in other households. I remember a friend referring to the ‘ham step’ in her kitchen – so-called because that’s where her 18-month-old daughter insisted on sitting to eat ham. Seems that each family has it’s own quirks.

So, I’ll do my best to hollow-out the apples, with the recent warnings of ‘avocado hand’ ringing in my ears. …That is until the next request comes in 😉 !

Related content:

Guilt: it doesn’t make you a better parent, it just makes you worry more

Why being imperfect makes us the perfect parents

Other parenting articles

2 thoughts on “Creating a rod for our own backs?

  1. Oh my 5 year old has so many of these demands! She has to have her sandwiches cut into triangles, she’s very exacting about how much milk she needs on her cereal (hint: about half a cow) and some days​she will only drink through a straw. Like you I try to give her as many yeses as possible, she gets enough nos in her day. Besides I like things a certain way too so I can hardly expect her to be less picky!


    1. Reassuring that I’m not alone! I thought there must be similar weird stuff going on in other households with young kids. The funniest thing is when we find ourselves doing this stuff that we’d have laughed at before having kids. All our knives are blunt, so the effort this apple carving takes is pretty ludicrous…

      But must be an age-thing as I remember my eldest would go nuts when he was younger if I didn’t let him close the car door himself, but also go nuts if I didn’t close the door for him. I was on a hiding to nothing… got to laugh 😉


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