Bad Cop.

The new year started well: Fredi and Jasper came by for a 24 hour whirlwind visit. Their stay wasn’t as exhausting as I had it imagined to be; it was actually quite nice to have them around – playing with Jasper, talking to Fredi, cooking and eating together, having some glasses of Licor 43 and milk (Fredi and me, obviously).

The unexpected consequence of their visit, however, was the realisation that I might not be as motherly as I had thought: When playing a game with Fredi and Jasper, I realised that he was trying to cheat. He didn’t do it on purpose; he was just so excited that he did not wait when lifting a set of cards before we had turned ours over. This gave him an advantage in the game, so I gently told him to wait for 2 more seconds before flipping his cards. 3 minutes later, he was doing it again, so another quiet reminder from me. After 5 minutes, I told him that it was not ok to play the game that way. Fredi agreed with me, but it was too late: Jasper was visibly upset and demanded to finish the game without me, as I was “mean” to him (much to my amusement).

Jasper is generally a very kind and sensible boy, but like any child, he has his moments; Fredi usually tells him off, but she is very unassuming, almost aloof when doing so, so it takes some time before Jasper reacts. Now, I am certainly not a fan of being harsh to children, and I also believe that the quiet method works better than shouting. However, I was rather surprised at how annoyed I could get when Jasper did something I considered to be ‘unfair’ (and yes, I do realise that he is 5 years old and does not yet have a comprehensive grasp of the concept of fairness). It did not bother me that he was jumping on the sofa, running around the flat, being noisy, or overly jealous of me talking to his mum at times; but him not abiding by the ‘societal’ rules of fair play meant that Fredi and I inadvertently acted out the “good cop, bad cop” routine, with her being the calm, understanding part and me taking on the role as the spoil sport.

I actually did not mind being the strict one, even if it led to him refusing to play with me from time to time (as it left me, in turn, with more time to mark some papers). It was, however, rather interesting for me to realise that regardless of any maternal feelings I usually have towards children, I can get really persistent when somebody does not adhere to certain rules, at least when these rules try to foster just behaviour towards others. Turns out I am more of a bad cop than I thought.

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