Getting your children to spend time with you sure ain't easy

By Justine O'Mahony

A couple of times a year I get this figary that we don't spend enough time together as a family. I secretly think that if we emulate The Brady Bunch we will BECOME the Brady Bunch-I'll start wearing an apron and the kids will start actually liking each other! I really should know better. Enforced proximity to one's family does not necessarily result in a positive experience!

I had one of the aforementioned figaries last week and so, informed the family we were all going out together at the weekend.

'Why?' asked The Teenager sullenly. 'Because it will be nice to spend some quality time together,' I reply sunnily. 'We see each other every single day, why would we want to spend more time with each other?' was his response. He has a point. We do see each other daily. But shouting at him to pick up his dirty clothes and put them in the washing basket doesn't really constitute a proper conversation in my book.

So I force us all to spend the day together, in the belief that if we spend time with each other away from the drudgery of domestic life, we'd all realise what wonderful human beings we are.

We head into town late afternoon where there is a Christmas street festival. Within ten minutes The Teenager has dumped us, having found some of his friends lurking on a corner. The Youngest goes on the carousel and the ferris wheel. We buy her crepes and let her have a quick look in Penneys. But Himself keeps looking at his watch and asking are we ready.

This is not going according to plan. We head for our local which I know will at least keep Himself happy. The Teenager turns up a half an hour late so it's his fault I'm on my third drink! We go to a restaurant for something to eat and I insist that we turn off all phones and ipods.

The Youngest suggests we play Truth or Dare. The gin has gone to my head and I ask for a dare. 'I dare you to steal a chip off that man's plate?' she says pointing to a young man and his girlfriend sitting at the next table. The Teenager starts laughing, 'She'll never do it!' Anything to keep my children entertained!

I lean across towards the man and grab a chip off his plate. 'Sorry but mine are taking ages!' He looks at me gobsmacked, then looks at his girlfriend, then back down at his plate. He doesn't know what to do. The Teenager has his head in his hands and his shoulders are shaking with laughter. The Youngest is shrieking delightedly, 'She did it! She did it!' Himself is debating whether or not to make a run for it. 'Ah mam that was priceless. You're mental!' High praise indeed from The Teenager.

So that's the secret to engaging your children and getting them to spend time with you:Making a complete fool of yourself!

Should be no bother to me.

Wexford People