Despite appearances, in some ways I'm an optimist.
OK, I do dwell on the negative, my glass can be half empty at times... But I'm also a problem-solver - I know that I can make things better... I just have to find a way to do it!
This is what caused me to purchase a book on child behaviour. (OK, I hear you... better late than never). That's not to say the children are badly-behaved, but when you're out-numbered to the tune of 2.5 to 1, you need at least three of them to behaving perfectly at any one time to achieve any sense of equilibrium (and to be able to leave the house).
Those of you who are familiar with my family will understand what I mean when I say that my latest project is to "tame" Joe. My little three-year-old, unlike his more sensitive and sensible brother, rides on a wave of exuberance, and races through life with a grin, leaving chaos in his wake.
Whilst he's only three, and I realise that there are limits to what can be achieved, I do know from experience that we "could do better."
Hence the book.
When I started teaching at a new school and had a few behaviour problems (with the kids, that is), I turned back to the textbooks and looked at strategies for improvement. I found that sometimes the little things we do (or don't do) can make a significant difference. With parenting, too, a turn of phrase, or a well-meant strategy can lead to a different outcome - for better or worse.
One of the ideas I've gleaned from "the book" is to change my wording in an attempt to teach Joe empathy. (Those who know Joe... stop laughing - this is serious!). Rather than say "don't do that," I've learned to say - "look, you've made Timmy cry. What can we do to make him feel better?" In theory, this will make him more aware of the effect of his behaviour on others. And it has worked... a bit. The other day he decided that Timmy would like to be 'stroked' on the head.
Let's just say, it was well meant.
Another problem is, at the start of the day with an hour or two of sleep under my belt (if I'm lucky), I can deal with any ... "enthusiasm" with calmness and rational talk. By 7pm, I'm often tearing my hair out, snapping at the kids when they fight, and using the SANTA THREAT or even (to my shame) BIRTHDAY PRESENT THREAT.
It's one thing to know what to do, but another thing entirely to be able to do it. And when you've got five children hanging off your legs, or climbing on your back when you're trying to sit down with a cup of tea, there's only so much you can cope with.
Still, there's always tomorrow.
I'm a glass half-empty person.
But that's only because I've had a healthy dose of wine.