I came across this new book by Jill Murphy called Mother Knows Best – any mother knows this to be true, but it is a different matter convincing the children. In January I had my three year old niece Talia stay for four sleeps and this book resonated with me. Talia started her day talking, asking questions constantly and ended with talking right up to when she put her head on the pillow and silence….blissful glorious silence.
One morning she told me very firmly that she didn’t need a plate for breakfast, so I told her that she could only have breakfast if she used a plate or a bowl. “OK?” It was not ok with her. It was 7am and that was the start of numerous interactions, questions, demands and more questions. It was exhausting and I found myself asking how did I survive my own children’s questions, endless questions? And all that negotiation?
This book follows the many interactions between Bradley and his mother. Most are mundane and ordinary but they are the fabric of the life of a mother with a small child at home. Just about anything can turn into a major incident or a catastrophe without trying very hard. By 8am on same day, I had told Talia to take a very deep breath to stop a major tantrum and it worked. She then resumed asking me about something quite unrelated to her tears.
Bradley’s Mum uses books to calm her son, a spot of TV and numerous distractions and creative thinking. I love her mug – it has “Keep calm and carry on” written on its side, and I do love how she says to herself “give me strength”. She finally loses it and yells because “Mother Knows Best. Ok?” Bradley says “Ok” and off they go to the park. Jill Murphy understands the dynamic between mothers and their children and she captures some moments beautifully. I love Jill Murphy’s books, one her early books Five minute’s peace was read repeatedly – mostly with an air of wistfulness.
Yes, it is a story for mothers, but there is a message here too for the child – that their mother is not the only one who says that they can’t have cakes for breakfast, have a dinosaur for a pet or fly in a hot air balloon. There are many times when the questions our children ask simply cannot be answered adequately.
This morning my youngest son aged 18 told me that he was not feeling too good and I suggested that a quiet day at home might be helpful. The look he gave me said it all “why?” “what good will that do?” I just wanted to say “Mother knows best. Ok?”
I have to keep telling myself that – even after all these years.