It's a familiar sight: she stands, weight on one leg, hip jutting out, eyebrows tense, not quite catching my eye. Her voice is hard and she fights her corner. I am, she claims, being just as rude to her as she is to me. I have two other children who need my attention, a few minutes left of the half-hour I had allowed myself for a coffee and catch up and I have not yet switched on the kettle. Water is trickling from the bottom of the washing machine which just spun as if it had a house brick in the drum. I don't have the patience. I don't have the time. I suggest, firmly, that she goes to her room, stops winding her brothers up and tries to calm down. She deserves my attention I tell her and I can see that she needs some positive parenting, it just isn't going to happen right now.
Later, flood abated, new washing machine ordered, bread rolls shaped by my middle son and dictation and graphs completed, I do sit down. I'm curious, I say, as to why she is in such a bad mood. She admits that she can see now that she has been very rude, but that it's hard to see in the moment. She is fed up and frustrated. Her eagerly anticipated bath was ruined by a fresh and sore knee graze and then she had to shower after anyway because she'd forgotten to rinse her hair. It can be tough being eight. I express sympathy, commiserate with her frustration and she softens. Her shoulders drop, her face relaxes and she slithers from her chair to climb on my lap. We all need to be heard.