Masters and Apprentices

I’ve always considered myself a fantastic parent.
But, since employing Learner Dad as my Master Seven apprentice, I’m fast realising I’m actually just a very soft one.
Initially it was probably my way of compensating for the fact Master Seven didn’t have a father.
And, more recently, compensation for the fact he suddenly did have one – and a brother – two people to compete with for his Mummy’s attention.
The truth dawned on me the other night, when Master Seven wrote Learner Dad a letter.
He tried to surreptitiously slip it into the lounge room before heading off to bed.
In it he expressed profound sorrow, in childish scrawl, for not ‘shouting the door’ when told.
Now, first of all, I’ve never been given such a letter.
And secondly, if I had, I probably would have told him how proud I was, lifted any imposed sanctions, and given him a cuddle and several Kit Kats.
What he got from Learner Dad was a nod of appreciation, a hug, and then the news that his ‘Tech-No’ was still active.
(A ‘Tech-No’ is a method of punishment devised by Learner Dad and I that simply means a ban on all technology for a certain period of time. Extremely effective when enforced.)
Learner Dad has quickly gained the confidence to take the harder line with his stepson.
While I’ve always tried to cuddle away the tired tears, Learner Dad takes them straight to bed.
I treat a tiny cut with 60 kisses and almost as many bandaids, while Learner Dad scoffs and tells him to at least make it bleed next time.
When Master Seven butts in on an adult conversation, my explanation of what his Dad and I are discussing is quickly cut off with a ‘mind your own business’.
And Master Seven is responding.
Suddenly Learner Dad is the one he wants to impress, the one he doesn’t want to let down.
His respectful letter of apology said it all.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of molly-coddling from Mummy.
So long as it’s balanced with a bit of tough love.
In our case, with Li’l Fatty entering the realm that is childhood, perhaps the Master will become the Apprentice.
I can still teach Learner Dad the ins and outs of bottles, Bonjela and bottom butter.
But when it comes to discipline, maybe it’s time I wore the ‘L’ plates for a while.


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