Tales from the parenting frontline No. 471 – early skirmishes in the war against pester power
We’ve just come through our first pester power experience and survived. I’m not entirely sure how but we did. I think – at least I hope – it might have taught the children that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Both my children, Monkey (6) and Missy Woo (nearly 5) have school dinners. I gambled when Monkey started school that he would like them and he did. All was fine until summer term came around. He mentioned that when the weather was nice, children with packed lunches were allowed to eat outside. The school offered a packed lunch option for those having school dinners but it wasn’t practical. Then it started. “When can I have packed lunches?” he’d say, escalating to a whine… “ x, y and z all have packed lunches, and they get to go outside. It’s not FAIR!” and ending in a huff when I said no.
End of term came around quickly, as summer terms do. The pestering stopped. Come September, he started asking again. This time, Missy Woo joined him, as she had started in reception. The questions started. The voices got louder and louder. Whining in stereo, I tell you; it’s like water torture.
One day, the cacophony of whining reached a peak and my ears couldn’t take anymore. I thought on my feet and offered a solution – packed lunches for summer term only. This went down well. The children counted down the days. The excitement built gradually to a fever pitch. I told school before the Easter holidays. We had lunchboxes. We bought food. All systems were go.
Thanks to the Royal Wedding, they only need packed lunches for 2 days in their first week. Everything was ready the night before but it felt a hassle; something else to remember whilst I herded cats. Sorry, I mean get the children to school.
The first day did not go well. Both of them left food yet came home ravenous. Missy Woo ate less than half and hadn’t had toast at break time either. Quite why no-one checked her lunchbox, I’ll never know, but she seemed able to hide what she’d left and went out to play; Monkey had thought more of his stomach. Riot acts were suitably read and threats issued. All was fine the next day, then there was a Royal Wedding street party lunch to finish the week.
Over the bank holiday, Missy Woo suddenly announced she wanted school dinners again. Her face told me she was serious. I don’t completely know why; I think she missed the choice and felt left out. After asking Monkey several times, he cracked too. They took packed lunches one more day but I arranged to restart their school dinners straight after that.
They had packed lunches for 3 whole days. Monkey made one further comment – that he finished his dinner before the packed lunches – but since then, they’ve not said a word. I think they love the food and the menu’s weekly rhythm – like Thursday roasts and fish on Fridays – provides variety and familiarity.
I lucked out this time. I realise that I might not be so lucky whenever pester power darkens my door again. I’m happy I gave them the chance to try it and they mostly made their own decisions. But I’m even happier they are having school dinners. It might not be right for all but it’s right for us. And that, I guess, is what parenthood is about – doing what works for you.
What say you? Do you succumb to the power of the pester? Leave a comment for today’s guest poster…