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By Geoff Ashton

4 minutes reading time (868 words)

How to deal with the 'Pulled Face' - a parents' guide

 

"If the wind changes, your face will stick like that."

by my mum.
It came from the black lagoon...

"When your dad comes home he'll give you something to sulk about."

by my mum.

"You can change that face right now!"

by my mum.

It cometh...

I call on parents everywhere to join hands with me on this one.

I'm not sure at what age it starts. I don't even know if it has a gender bias. But at some point through our journey of parenthood, this 'thing' emerged.

It's like a creeping 'blob'.

A creeping, oozing, growing lump that threatens to eat you all up - but stealthily, you know?

It doesn't pounce. It's not a quick mover. No.

It slowly stalks you. It lulls you. It shows just a bit of itself at first, steadily increasing in power. But make no mistake - it's deadly.

It will GET WHAT IT WANTS.

What is this malevolent beast?

 
Beware the blob...

It goes by many names. But there's no mistaking it when it appears.

My own experience of it is actually quite limited. The beast that lives in our house is cunning. It's careful where and when it makes an appearance.

For some reason, it can sense when dad is around and is careful to remain hidden, lurking, bubbling just out of sight, but it's there, building its strength, waiting for just the right moment…

There are tales, of course, rumours, legends even, that parents tell each other in hushed tones round half-empty wine bottles at dinners.

It's thought that it may begin life at around age 3 years, just after tantrums have been conquered. Research suggests that actually, it's a mutation of the tantrum, an improved, more sophisticated creature.

 

It develop-eth... 

Over the next few years its 'host' allows it to further develop. It 'trains' itself, honed to perfection like a world-class athlete over a 100-metre sprint.

By the time High School arrives it's reached its peak of strength, ready for execution, and no parent is safe.

It killeth-eth...

"What's for tea?"

says daughter.

"Stew."

replies mum.

Innocuous enough on the face of it. But don't be fooled. Oh no. A parent's fatal mistake.

I'm told that this is how it goes:-

The jaw drops slightly, the head turns to the right and up a touch.

The bottom lip protrudes.

Eyebrows crease up, then the eyes shoot a look pure evil from across the room.

The more adept and practised 'hosts' can somehow angle their body in a such a way that 'the look' sends more of its blood-curdling power - slamming into the recipient with all the force of a hammer strike to the gut.

It's not the child's fault. It's the thing. The blob. It takes over. It occupies. It infects. And it's terrifying.

Before long, it starts to surface with more regularity, like it's beginning to recognise its own increasing power. Always growing, feeding on parents' guilt and need to please, to satisfy.

As it gains energy, you might find it appearing at the following 'trigger' phrases:-

"Mum, can I wear these clothes today?"

"What are doing on Saturday?"

"How long does it take to get there?"

"Do I HAVE to?"

Curiously, each host might have a different trigger.

The blob might look similar in different hosts, but it can feed on different things.

So how, as parents, can we deal with such a foe?

Fighting back...

A strategy for battle...

1. Shouting 

Probably the default setting for most parents.

Downside: everyone feels stressed. Blob still probably gets what it wants. It grows stronger…

Upside: none.

2. Draw attention to the blob - call it out. Say its name.

Downside: NEVER recognise that you see it. This is like caviar to the blob. Its power immediately triples if you do this. It could probably take over the entire planet / galaxy / universe.

Upside: none.

3. Punishment by consequences - e.g. withdrawal of phone / Playstation / other privileges.

 

Downside: initially this seems to get some traction. The blob may go into hiding for a while until privileges have been restored. In reality, the whole melting-pot of negative energy gives it a kind of 'level-up', like a turbo-boost of power. It has caused a drama and knows it - secretly it gives a wry smile... 

It can then return with even greater strength. You may even witness a 'finger-wag' at its next appearance.

Upside: a small one, but short-lived.

4. Ignore its existence.

Downside: this is hardest to master from a parental standpoint but could be the only way to survive. Like pouring water over the Wicked Witch of the West, this technique potentially has the power necessary to wither the blob to such an extent that you can defeat it entirely! 

Upside: sanity.

Hope... 

But it's oh-so-hard to perfect.

Mother Teresa probably couldn't do it.

The Dalai-lama would let that cheery facade slip.

Even the Pope would likely crumble faced with persistent appearances of the blob.

But if we parents stand together as one, we can do it.

As brothers and sisters, united, organised, steadfast in the face of the pulled-face…

WE SHALL OVERCOME!

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

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