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Friday, November 11, 2011

That's the morning milo line-up. Bunnies for JW, orange dog for J, papercut on pink for G and stripes for C. C gave me that mug for mother's day but I am yet to drink from it. They made chocolate mousse, filled a mug each, wrapped it with cellophane and made a beautiful card at pre-school but before we had gotten home that day C had unwrapped the mug, eaten the mousse (with her fingers! Such a mess!) and declared that she loved her new stripey mug. Every time I make milo or hot chocolate she insists that it comes in 'her' mug and is happy for me to have my standard white china.
I am not usually a supporter of people having allocated items in a family. I know it works for a lot of people but it seems too regimented to me and too fraught with potential to cause arguments. I don't even let the children have a place at the dinner table that they can consider to be 'theirs'. Each meal is a free for all and wherever you end up sitting is your spot for that meal but not forever. I am either helping my children develop flexibility or creating children who will grow into people intent on possessing things. I guess only time will tell.
One of my best friends when I was growing up had 4 brothers and sisters and they each had a colour that defined their 'things' within the family. Their cups, towels, lunchboxes, sunhats, plates, etc were all colour-coded. Guests also had a specific colour. I can't remember what the guest colour was now but I do remember knowing never to use someone else's cup for fear of serious reprisals. I suspect that never happened but it seemed like a cultural imperative that was alien to me and for a child prone to anxiety it added a veneer of stress to otherwise delightful playdates and sleepovers.
However, despite all that the mug thing has crept up on me and I think I quite like it. Parenting is a constant balance of things, I often think that being flexibly consistent is what I am striving for. Being consistent and predictable in my actions and words, and flexible enough to realise when things need to change. What about you?

7 comments:

Michelle :

Ok so in the C household, since I only have 2 and they're wildly space it's never been much of an issue, BUT, growing up I always enjoyed (being one of four) having "my" seat at the table, "my" place in the car, "my" spot on the couch. Perhaps it was that I was the loudest, and most bossy and I always felt that "my" place was THE best place LOL. I felt that it gave me a specialness that somehow made me unique in a group of 4 (not withstanding that I was the only girl, but somehow I always felt part of the group and never individual). For my own kids, it's just evolved. They do have places at the table, and even now after one has left home, the other won't sit in the vacated spot, but in the car the places are free. The couches have become assigned, and that even goes for the hubs and don't DARE sit in Mumma's spot. lol. Mugs though - we ALL have our own special mugs. And I think of all things, that's like a toothbrush. It should be just yours. forever and always. I sent the oldest off to college with her mug just because it seemed right.

Have fun with it, because pretty soon Miss G will be taking hers and one by one those mugs will disappear out of your cupboard.

Lynn :

I think you're an exceptional mum, that's what I think.

Mary :

What Lynn said.

I have found that it is the kids who have driven what they consider to be theirs - plates, mugs, seats at the table. Even then it seems to be a pretty loose arrangement and only insisted on if they feel like a fight!

The front seat of the car is the most argued about thing...

blackbird :

Things tend to morph in our household. One notices Middle using a particular glass or Oldest favoring a mug.
They each have their own towels and do their own wash but they are older...so it's been an evolution.
DON'T EVER sit at the head of the dining table, even accidentally. He may let you stay, but you may regret it.

Julie :

our household sounds much like yours, very little set anything. I grew up in a house where we didn't even have set toothbrushes! Amazingly we were rarely sick. On a recent stay with my four nephews my sister-in-law, a former primary teacher, assigned everyone a drinking mug and named them and it did save an unbelievable amount of washing up.

kim at allconsuming :

When we only had three children one of my aunts gave them each the same style mug but with a different Christmas image on it. Well if there is not one hundred fights about the frikkin' mug with the reindeer on it (which was given to Felix and which he defends with great vigour. As you can well imagine) there is a thousand. Dear GOD I hate that effing mug. So, NO SET ANYTHING FOR YOU!

Jen :

We have assigned seats at dinner, in the car, or watching TV, and always have. It happens organically in our family, and thank God or I'd never be able to tell my children apart. We don't have assigned plates or cups, towels, etc.

I wish people had assigned seats IN LIFE, and would wear the same clothes every day (it could be different garments--just identical in appearance). If I see someone out of context, I never know who they are until they re-introduce themselves to me.

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