Monday, January 14, 2013

Ready for Battle

Charles lost his books for the day.


He has approximately six billion of them, so this afternoon is going to mean a pile of work for me as I box or bag them up to take them out of his room and the living room.


I hate to do it, but I had to win, you know?  Never, ever did I think I would have to view parenting as a contest, but some part of each day turns into one, with both of my children.


Jamie is only 18 months old, but give that kid an inch and he’ll take a mile.  If I let him, if I didn’t hold my ground, he would play on my iphone all. day. long.  His tantrums and his tears come fast and furious when he is denied the object of his desire, be it the phone or a kitchen knife or my glass of wine or a snack before dinner.  Fortunately, he’s 18 months old and is easily placated and distracted.


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But Charles, well, he’s all stubborn.  He’s not often defiant, though when he is, he works hard to throw big, violent tantrums.  But he frequently refuses to do what he’s asked, especially in the morning.  And his consequences for not following directions and not listening get increasingly harsh until he loses big things.


And books are big things to this kid. 


This morning, he refused to get dressed.  He lost the toys he was playing with and still would not get dressed.  Then he lost just the books he was reading and still would not get dressed.  So then he lost all of his books.  Oh, I won’t take them away for longer than a day, and truly, it is more work for me than it will be punishment for him (even though it is punishment and he will feel it dearly), but I’m hoping that he’ll remember all this tomorrow and want them back enough to get dressed, brush his teeth, and get his shoes on in a timely manner.


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He’s four, so I try to cut him some slack, but also, I have to remind him who’s boss (I am) and start guiding him toward being responsible.  Is it too much to ask a four-year-old that he be responsible for himself in the morning?  That his role in our family right now is one that has him dressed and ready to go by 8:20?  I don’t think so.  And it’s so hard to make him understand that if he would just do as I ask the first time, he would have so much more time to play while the rest of us are getting ready for the day. 


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I’m a bit amazed at myself.  How calmly I proceeded to take away privileges, to inform him of his punishment.  I don’t usually yell back when he yells at me (“I DON’T WANT to get dressed!”), I don’t spank, I don’t get angry.  After he’s calm and removed from the situation, we talk about what happened.  I ask him if he understands why he is being punished.  I ask him how he will change his behavior for tomorrow.  In short, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at this parenting thing with regards to discipline.  I just wish it didn’t feel like such an uphill, endless battle.


One day he’ll figure it out: I will always win because I am mom.  Hell, I HAVE to win.

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