A friend of mine is a researcher on Tom Dunne’s show on Newstalk. He rings me up and asks would I be willing to chat about the ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ parenting technique. Being a parent I recognised straight away what he was talking about.
‘Which are you?’ he says, ‘Good or bad?’‘Good,’ says I, ‘definitely good.’
Then I thought about it. It’s true; I give in on most things. The missus says no to fizzy drinks, ice cream, chocolate and Wham bars and they come begging to me. Missus arrives into living room, to a sea of wrappers and sugar-fuelled brats hanging from the curtains, and launches into me for caving. I shrug – caving bought me a few minutes peace from aural assault to enjoy the newspaper. I weighed up which was most painful: wife abusing me or kids harassing me, and chose my course of action based on the answer. She can’t hurt me the way they can.
Therefore I am the ‘good’ parent. I must be. Further inspection reveals glitches in the theory though. ‘Good’ parent sounds attractive but it really means you are the soft one. The soft one gets ridden and abused. The soft one has no respect. Being ‘good’ means short-term gain for long-term pain. For ten minutes peace, you get a life-time of attitude. In an ideal parenting world both parents present a united front. Their decisions are unilateral and no variances in approach are admitted within earshot of the enemy, sorry, kids. But who lives like that? In the real world she thinks you’re an idiot and you think she should calm down.
How then to avoid being the gormless fool; the ‘good’ parent? Answer: go nuclear. Once. Once is enough.
On the hottest day of the summer, after the kids had been treated to beaches, boat trips and picnics, we, the united front of parents, allowed for ice-pops to be bought for the drive home. For whatever reason this was not enough and the elder daughter stropped at the Loop The Loop she had been granted. She wanted a Choc Ice. That Loop The Loop made pretty spirals as it sailed through the air out my window. The car erupted. The elder at her loss, the younger in shock, the missus in rage. It’s a wonder we stayed on the road. Now I can still be ‘good’, the ‘go-to’ guy when healthy mum is brandishing quinoa bars. But when I say, ‘Enough’, they know it’s enough. Sometimes it’s good to be bad.