Dressing to a brand new beat
Regular readers of this column will know I have a love-hate relationship with parenting techniques.
Largely because I’ve tried them all – everything from sticker charts to naughty steps – and on occasions had about as much success as Norway’s Eurovision record.
But when something works, I feel duty bound to share the secret. Not because I’m smug, or feel any more qualified to give tips on this stuff than I do to teach synchronised swimming.
But because I know in my bones that there are others facing similar issues. And my issue was this: a seven year old who took forever to get dressed in the morning.
Seriously, there new black holes being discovered in the far reaches of the universe faster than my boy gets his trousers on at 7.30am.
This has resulted bouts of exasperation from me every morning since he started school, which was, frankly, years ago.
He’d prefer to do anything but the one thing he was meant to be doing: Watch TV, read a comic, play mini-golf with some Coco Pops and a spoon across the kitchen table.
Having tried all the obvious methods of addressing this – removing all distractions and refusing access to the XBox – it was still, basically torture.
I’d call into his room, ‘Are you dressed yet?’ and he’d reply, ‘Nearly mum,’ only for me to walk in and find him completely naked except for a single sock.
This week someone made a suggestion: put his favourite song on the music system and challenge him to be completely dressed before it finished.
I was sceptical. Given the chance, he’d take three hours to get this done in the past, never mind three minutes.
He chose ‘Come And Get Your Love’ by Redbone, which – if you’re culturally astute or the parent of a school-age boy – you might recognise from the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.
The result was astonishing. I’ve never seen anything like it. He was like lightning. Lightning of the gabardine trouser-wearing variety.
The last time I saw anyone move that quick it was because my DVD player was stuck on fast forward.
I can’t claim that he looked overly smart. The knot in his tie looked as though it’d been done by a hyperactive monkey and his hair as though he’d been subjected to a minor electric shock.
But he was dressed.
The result was that, having got him ready for school three minutes after he’d jumped out of bed, none of us were quite sure what to do with the other 57 minutes. Which was a very nice problem to have.