How well do you know your children?

They say every child is different, and how right they are.

First time around, I was blessed with what, on reflection, I appreciate was something of a miracle baby. At six weeks old, Bee was sleeping 12 hours through the night. Throughout her early years she could be left with anybody, was happy to go anywhere in the car, would eat most things, and was generally a pretty chilled out child. It was all down to me of course. Me and my ‘relaxed parenting style’.

Oh, how we laugh.

Friends and family will know what I mean when I say Belle was a teensy bit higher maintenance than this. Picture me, lying next to an 18 month old on a mattress on the floor, being woken hourly through the night, unable to leave a room without a toddler attached to me in some way, and you’ll have an idea of what I’m getting at.

Even now, at nine years old, there is a streak to Belle that makes her hard to predict, somehow more difficult to really know than Bee. Don’t get me wrong, we have a normal, close relationship, but still, there are times when I just have no clue as to what’s going on inside her head.

I’d not really thought about it properly until yesterday morning, when we were sat in the car, dividing up the breakfast of toasted crumpets (yes we took them to the car on a plate), cartons of drink and squeezy yogurts, that we’d be running too late to eat in the house.

“Here you go Bee,” I said, handing her the cherry flavour Frube I’d chosen for her. “Belle, would you like strawberry or apricot?”

“Um… ” Belle gave it some serious thought while I started the car and tried not to act impatient. “Strawberry please!”

“Smoothie or orange juice?” Again, the same agonisingly long thought process.


I passed a carton of smoothie – my nod towards the five a day – into the back of the car, and then handed Bee the smoothie I’d brought for her.

Bee looked at me suspiciously. “How do you know me so much better than Belle?” she asked. I thought for a moment, back over the last few minutes. It was true. Grabbing things from the fridge, I just knew that Bee would want a smoothie, and that her favourite flavour is cherry. Belle though – who knew? I had bought one of everything, with no idea of which she would choose or what the reaction might be should I get it wrong.

“Well, you know,” I mumbled, beginning to worry if this made me a Bad Parent, “Belle’s always been a bit of a wildcard hasn’t she?”

Bee lolled* “I guess,” she said, “but I might not have thought to even pick these for myself, even though they’re what I want – it’s like you know me better than I know myself.”

“Well,” I answered, momentarily smug, “that what mothers are for isn’t it?”

“So why didn’t you know what Belle wanted?”


“Like I said,” I muttered, pulling out onto the main road and switching on the radio, keen to change the subject, “wildcard.”

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since, and wondering what difference, if any, this all makes to my relationships with them as individuals. Does the fact than I can predict Bee’s behaviour better than Belle’s even mean anything?

How well do you know your children? Is there a difference between how easily you are able to read them, and does this effect the way you parent? Let me know…

*This is something teenagers apparently do when they CBA** to actually physically laugh

**Can’t be arsed



  1. 29 August, 2011 / 11:33 am

    My favorite part was the “Ah.” That really made me laugh. I do enjoy reading about your adventures in parenting. Thanks again for another wonderful post.

    • 29 August, 2011 / 11:44 am

      You know what Brian, the ‘Ah’ was pretty much the last bit I added – the cherry on the cake if you will – so I’m glad you appreciated it :-)

  2. 29 August, 2011 / 11:39 am

    I have 2 just like that… easy,chilled, straightforward firstborn boy…..then my difficult, stubborn, unpredictable middle daughter. I could always pick a pack of sandwiches/crisps/drink from a supermarket & just know that he would like them…..I would have to take my daughter with me for her to choose and even then she would probably still want what her brother’s got when we’d get back to the car……..

    • 29 August, 2011 / 11:43 am

      Haha! Yes, I know that feeling – I had to be quite subtle passing the cherry flavour to Bee, as I just knew that would be the one Belle wanted once she saw her sister with it!

      Do you think it makes a difference to how your then behave around them, or how you treat them?

      • 29 August, 2011 / 12:03 pm

        oh yes….we tiptoe around her! Her brother also often swaps whatever he has with her just to keep the peace….
        I must also add that I usually take half an hour to choose something off the menu and then always want what someone else in the restaurant has!

  3. ethicalcompanies
    29 August, 2011 / 11:39 am

    Does one take after you, and the other after her father?

    • 29 August, 2011 / 11:42 am

      Well that’s a good question. I’d say Bee was more like me in her general attitude, and that Belle slightly fierier side probably comes from her dad, but then to be honest I do have trouble predicting myself sometimes. I couldn’t ever say for sure which flavour Frube I’d fancy from one day to the next…

  4. Beth
    29 August, 2011 / 12:12 pm

    Based on being able to predict what my son wants to eat, I don’t know him at all! I can usually tell what his outlook/opinion is going to be but never what food he will want to eat. As a result, we constantly have food we have to ‘use up’ because he’s decided he doesn’t like it anymore.

  5. 29 August, 2011 / 2:22 pm

    It’s so true! My son is easy and predictable. My daughter changes her mind every 6 seconds. She is my difficult child, mood swings, attitude shifts, overall lack of regard for authority. I pity her teachers when she gets older (she’s only two). My son will probably be the teacher’s pet and I will be in parent teacher conferences weekly with my daughter.

  6. Clare
    31 August, 2011 / 7:29 am

    This is a really interesting post and I’ve thought lots about this with my children. I’d actually say to the contrary to you suggesting its that as a parent you don’t know one more than the other – it sounds like you know them both equally well. It’s just that with Belle – you know she’s unpredictable at times. My more erm ‘free spirited’ second daughter who could leg it from a supermarket in the blink of an eye or have a complete melt down in a quiet restaurant, is actually totally predictable in things like flavour choice and is a real creature of habit when it comes to eating and bed time stories. My ‘easy’ first one – likes variety, something different every day – I can never predict what she might like.

    I have to really think about different situations to really know my children and I think there are always suprises. Having moved, we’re about to start a brand new school tomorrow, and after some recent experiences, whereas 6 months ago I could have predicted how they’ll be – I have no idea how either of them are going to react. Just wish me luck.

  7. Clare
    31 August, 2011 / 8:03 am

    …They really lol? – I have so much to learn pre those dreaded teenage years…..

  8. 2 September, 2011 / 9:07 pm

    That’s a really good question. I think we like to assume we know our children better than anybody but it’s always healthy to learn something new about them every day. I certainly do!

    CJ xx

  9. 3 September, 2011 / 4:07 pm

    My boys are like chalk and cheese and as soon as I think I have one of them covered, well they do something to set me off on that path of not knowing them. I do wonder if it is the fact they are boys

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.