I was queuing to pay for my shopping a while back and reading the posters alongside the till while I waited. One said –
“Congratulations to Lucy on guessing the correct amount of marshmallows in the jar! Your prize is….”
But I don’t know what the prize was. Why? Because I had been overcome with an overwhelming, thought consuming desire for marshmallows. My mouth was watering and I could almost taste the powdery sweet softness of those fluffy little treats. But not wanting to loose my place in the queue I tried to move on with my thoughts. Except…Hold on… What do we have here…..?
In the sale baskets alongside the till were bags and bags of pink and white marshmallows. Before I knew what had happened I had thrown 2 big bags on top of my shopping and watched as the checkout lady scanned them through. “You got me with your subliminal messages there” I told her, but she looked most confused and gave me the old “nod and smile.”
I ripped open the packet as soon as it was decent to do so (3 steps out of the shop) and put the first to my mouth. It was only as I bit down on it that I remembered, I don’t like marshmallows.
This is not the first time I have been influenced by subtle signs. I have been compelled to buy an avocado to make guacamole after walking past a poster advertising a Mexican holiday resort. I decided I needed a nursery after watching films showing beautiful rooms filled with fluffy ducklings and soft carpets, despite the fact that our baby sleeps with us. Whilst pregnant I insisted that we needed a steriliser and bottles in every shape and size despite that fact that I fully intended to breastfeed. Why? Because every memory I had of a baby, every film and advertisement, included a warm bottle of milk. The steriliser and bottles are still in the box, lonely and dusty on top of our kitchen cupboard.
I began to see how readily influenced by the outside world we all are, even when we don’t realise it. How our moods can be affected by things that are out of our control in both a positive or a negative way; A late train, waking up to heavy rain when your husband has taken the car to work, a thoughtful note, a loved one bringing you a hot mug of tea on a cold day. And how do these quiet little nudges affect our parenting?
Someone shoves past you on the street, spilling your shopping and does not stop to help you pick it up. Your child chooses this moment to ask you a question. Are you more likely to snap at him?
What about when you arrive home to find a pipe has burst soaking everything. How is your patience affected then?
You go to a comedy night, and come out joking and laughing. You watch a violent film filled with swearing and insults, do these words come more readily to your lips?
Our children are not always aware of the fact that this is a bad time, that mummy or daddy is not in the mood to talk or play right now. Life is full of ups and downs, sunshine and barefeet, crime and traffic. But we owe it to our little ones to be consistent, to take the time to hear them, to think before we speak and to show them just how much they matter to us. Its ok to show your feelings, to be real with your child but remember, you are angry at the situation, not them.
So next time someone eats your last rolo, take a deep breath and tell your child “I love you.” It can do wonders for your mood!