I turned to check on what DS1 was up to, only to see him chasing two girls across the field while videoing them on his phone.

A bit like stealing from a multi-storey car park, this was (at first sight) wrong on so many levels.

Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed; in fact it was a major positive.

We’d come to watch the football team he has started training with play a game. Despite his eagerness to attend, as we pulled up in the car park, he asked: “What are we doing here?”
“We’ve come to watch your team play,” I replied, non-plussed.
“Oh yeah.”

As for watching the game, his attention span soon wavered, and he started chatting with the younger sister of his friend Henry. Another girl, who DS1 didn’t know, soon joined the party.

But rather than this throwing him off guard, he accepted her into the ‘group’ and merrily ran off with them (to play, not to elope).

His assuredness and the fact he was happy to leave my side to play and talk with unknowns was even remarked on by other parents in the know.

The videoing incident, he assured me, was not a voyeur training session, but in response to a request from the girls to film them running.

And that, your honour, is the case for the defence.

The dating game

After the match, DS1 revelled in the success of his team – they won 6-0 – and Henry’s hat trick, even though he only saw one of his friend’s goals.

As we walked back to the car, the two boys hatched plans for a play date, which I promised to arrange.

“Why can’t Henry come now?” DS1 asked, not unreasonably, as we got into the car.

The fact that his Grannie was coming over after lunch and Henry’s family had other plans for the day didn’t dissuade him from wanting his mate to come over that afternoon – despite the two fundamental reasons I mentioned earlier, he couldn’t accept why that shouldn’t happen.

Back home, what had been a happy-go-lucky start to the day started to turn sour.

“Is Henry coming over?”
“No, not today.”
“Why?”
“Because Grannie is coming over and Henry is doing something else this afternoon.”
“Is Henry coming over?”

It was my fault (obviously) that Henry couldn’t come round, because I never listen to what he says.

“It’s all your fault,” DS1 said. “You never listen to what I say.”

He’d asked me to invite Henry over and I hadn’t. The fact this had occurred in the car park after the game about 30 minutes earlier was neither here nor there. I’d not made it happen.

He had also asked me earlier in the week, he said. News to me, so maybe he is right about me not listening.

But, hey, there was nothing I could do about it now, except message Henry’s mum and set up a date.

In a flawed attempt o distract him, I tried to get DS1 to do his spelling sentences homework. That was an error.

He wasn’t going to comply. Even when he got to the point of realising he had to do them, he acted up – his handwriting was like he was still at infant school and his ability to come up with sentences or even accept options I suggested was nil.

Eventually, I extracted enough effort out of him to enable us to both feel like we’d won that one.

“What was all that about?” I asked.
“You know.”
I did. “Is it about Henry not coming round?”
“Yes.”

I explained the reasoning again. But it was clear this wasn’t going to wash.

Even when I arranged for Henry to come over the following Saturday, this was greeted with scorn. Like that wasn’t good enough.

“Don’t worry,” the wife said. “He hates me too – I locked the bathroom door, which meant he couldn’t come in and annoy me.”

Caught flapping

The moral of the story is what I call ‘CAT’. I don’t actually, I just made it up having seen what the first letters of the next three words are: calm, agenda and timing.

First, always remain calm (a work in progress); second, if he is operating on his own agenda, it is not worth trying to impose your own – leave it until his has been dealt with; third, check his state of mind – the timing of when to try and get him to do homework, for example, is key.

I could add to this, to make ‘CATFLaP’: F is for focus – keep him engaged without shouting (easier said than done); L is for (don’t) lose it (see F); and P is for planning – discuss what is going to happen, set guidelines and establish timings prior to implementing – for example, ‘You have your sentences to do. It would be good if we could do five sentences today. What time shall we do them, at 10.30 or 11? We can do the other five tomorrow morning.’

Simples.

I think CATFlaP works on many levels – like that terrible joke earlier. There’s the fact that I often get into a flap and want to get out of the house as quickly as possible. And there’s the fact that when he was younger he used to escape through the dog flap.

Cat, dog – it’s all the same innit?

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I got the Premier League badges put on his new Chelsea shirt (see last week’s post)… he still hasn’t worn it.

To add insult to injury, he wore my (yes, my) 1998 England shirt to football training this week (it looked like he was wearing a dress).

Money well spent.

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