Its my fault. I was feeling cocky, flush with parenting prowess, and I think I’m getting my commuffins. (Like comeuppance, but tastier).
Just a scant three days ago, LG and I ventured out to the garden/feed store for some dog food. A risky proposition given that a) Dog toys look an awful lot like kid toys (hmm…coincidence?) and b) taking a toddler in public is always risky. I pushed my luck further by allowing him to WALK instead of riding in the cart.
I’ll tell you what happened – nothing.
He was perfectly behaved and lovely, charming to the cashier, and positively gentle to the giant mastiff that agreed to be petted (Baxter, as it happens). On the drive home, I felt a surge of parental satisfaction. I thought to myself, “Wow, maybe I’m not so bad at this after all! All those time outs paid off! He really listens to/respects me! And (this was the nail in my coffin) I think it might be easier now that I’m getting the hand of it!”
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Two days ago, Mr. Hyde replaced my lovely, well mannered boy. I’ll give you an example:
Me: Let’s go downstairs and eat breakfast.
Him: NOOOOOOO! (Legs flail, fists pound)
Me: That wasn’t a very nice way to talk to me. Can you try that again?
Him: No, thank you, Mommy.
Which is still saying, Heck, no, Mommy, I’m not doing what you say (albeit politely).
Now I’m in a pickle. Do I praise him for being polite, or scold him for not listening? I try both.
Me: That was better, pal, but we still need to go downstairs.
Him: I don’t WANT to!!!
Me: (Blood sugar dropping, getting uglier by the second) Well, bud, Mommy asked you to, and you need to listen to me. Remember how we talked about nice boys listening?
At this point, he’s turns away from me, in the exact opposite direction of the stairs. He plops himself in front of his bookshelf and proceeds to pluck books off the shelf. Not to read, but just to tick me off (OK, I may be projecting just a bit.)
I put my hand over the book he’s looking at and say: “Do I need to count?”
Like a whirling dervish, he starts pinwheeling his arms. Toward me. Sure enough, he lands a few.
What ensued was 45 MINUTES of timeouts, talking, negotiating, more attempted hitting, and convincing. Why? Because it took him that long to tell me “sorry”. Not for lack of understanding – several times he told his Daddy – “I don’t WANT to. I don’t SAY it.”
Meanwhile, I still haven’t had my Optimum Power cereal with soymilk. I’ve mentally upgraded to waffles with maple syrup and bananas.
Somewhere, my dad is laughing his head off. He remembers a similar incident, where as a child I (allegedly) refused to drink my milk. For two hours. It began as a simple “You can’t leave the table until you drink your milk.” So I sat. And he sat. Until, finally, he said through gritted teeth,”You either drink your milk or you go right to bed.” At which point I said, “Goodnight, Daddy!”
Sorry, Dad. But you can take comfort in the fact that the universe has repaid me in kind.
Of course, you could argue that both of these parenting attempts had more to do with stubbornness than an actual discipline strategy. Whose stubbornness is greater is the big question.
I did manage to get him downstairs. He did tell me he was sorry. I admit to feeling a split second of
victory parental satisfaction, but it was pretty hollow. Or maybe that was just my stomach.