Mother Courage

Most parents have said in jest at some point when they or their
children have lost their temper: “I’m surprised my neighbours
haven’t phoned social services,” but, after James’ behaviour last
weekend, I really am amazed that we haven’t had a knock at the door
from the authorities.

The problem this time was money. James is very good at hanging
on to his money. He’s also very good at hanging on to his sister’s
money, mine and his dad’s money, and any spare cash that happens to
be lying around. Where cash is concerned, James definitely believes
that possession is nine tenths of the law.

We’ve explained to him that he musn’t take money, but our
protests largely fall on deaf ears. The seeds for this weekend’s
blow up were sown a few days earlier when James noticed that
£20 of his had gone missing. Believing his sister must have
stolen it, his solution was to take the money from her room. (His
sister, it has to be said, has been known to resort to underhand
tactics in a bid to hang on to her cash.)

I eventually found the £20 in James’ jeans pocket as I was
about to put them in the wash. I told him that I had found his
money, and suggested that now would be a good time to repay his

The suggestion didn’t go down too well. In a state of total
denial, he refused to hand the money back. We tried reasoning,
threatening dire reprisals and repercussions all to no avail. In
the end we had to take the money from him and this resulted in
James working himself up into one of the worst temper tantrums I
have seen for a long time. We live in a semi-detatched house and
I’m sure our neighbours must have heard every word. I probably
shouldn’t care about that, but somehow it makes it even more
difficult and, if I’m honest, embarrassing.

All we could do was to send him to his room and wait for the
storm to pass. Which it did, of course, eventually. But it’s
horrible to see your child so angry and beyond reason, and it’s so
hard not to respond by becoming equally angry and upping the ante
by shouting just as loud.

Next time I’ll do better.

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