Parenting is a lot like walking a tightrope above a crazy circus and if you lean a little too far in either direction you are sure to fall. Finding a good balance is one of the hardest jobs as a parent and I’m positive everyone has struggled with this on more then one occasion.
My daughter put this to the test yesterday in an awesome display of defiance and frustration! It was not a good afternoon that’s for sure!
We were all dressed and ready to go to our local McDonalds where a very kind woman volunteers her time every Tuesday to color with the kids. We had a couple of minutes to kill so we decided to go outside and play while we waited. There in the middle of the yard was a glistening mud puddle and it was calling my daughters name!
The second I saw this puddle of stupidness I knew what was going to happen and I probably should have turned right around and gone back inside, but I didn’t! I did tell her to stay away from it if she wanted to be able to go to McDonalds because we didn’t have time for her to get wet and change. She started walking towards it, I gave her the warning look. You know the one …. every parent has a “Don’t you even let your brain think about it” look!
I turned around for a second to ask the Man-Child a question through the screen door and when I looked again it was all over! I started running across the lawn in slow motion yelling a low toned “Nooooooo” while my daughter happily jumped up and down in the middle of this puddle. As soon as she saw me she started jumping faster as if she needed to get as many splashes in as she could before I got to her! I think I even saw her do a spin in midair during one of the higher jumps!
She was absolutely soaked with water and mud, the new clothes she was wearing were destroyed, and she couldn’t have been more proud of herself! Then the hammer dropped ….
I was mad! I picked her up and took her up to her room, took off the muddy clothing, and plopped her right in her bed for a time-out. Then I had a choice to make and as a parent it is very hard to decide on a punishment. You know deep in your heart that you have to deliver consequences for your child’s bad behavior because it is the only way they will learn that bad choices come with negative consequences. However, you love your baby more then life itself and don’t want to be the reason for any unhappiness! Even though you know it was ultimately their fault, they don’t understand that and usually blame you for their misery. It is very tempting to give into your kids desires even when you know it is not a healthy choice.
So I could either tell her we were not going at all now because she didn’t listen to me, or ignore the behavior and give into what she wanted, Both of these come with their own set of pros and cons and deciding on one is a really hard thing to do. If I ban her from going without giving her the chance to earn the activity back, it is going to create frustration that she cannot process through. It seems unfair to take something away entirely without at least giving them a shot at earning it back! On the other hand, I cannot just ignore what she did either.
In the end, I decided to place her in time out for a couple of minutes, ask her to apologize, ask her to explain what she did wrong, and allow her the opportunity to earn McDonald’s back. It sounded like the perfect plan and I was super proud of myself for thinking about it. I only wish it could have gone the way I had thought it would!
I put her in her bed and asked her to sit and think about what she had done wrong, then I went to the closet to get her a new pair of pants. I heard a giggle behind me and turned to find Kayleigh standing their smiling from ear to ear. Not Funny! I put her back into her bed and we did this dance at least three more times! The last time I put her in bed I told her she would lose the opportunity to go if she did not stop, and instead of understanding she kicked me square in the mouth! I was MaaaaaaD!
I will tell you right now, it is a good thing that I don’t believe in hitting a child but I was seriously rethinking that moral in that split second after she did that! Now it had gone a bit too far and I told her as much! I picked her up from the bed and put her in the corner and she knew I meant business now! Her brother spends quite a lot of time in the corner, I think he has even decorated it to his liking because he spend so much time there! Kayleigh has never had to stand in the corner because she has never really acted out badly enough. Discipline in my house looks a bit like this:
If they do something wrong or don’t listen I have them sit on the couch or in another spot of the house. If they either don’t sit right, keep getting up, or do something wrong while sitting there they have to go to the corner instead. Her brother almost always ends up proceeding to the corner for two or three minutes, while Kayleigh usually will get the message from sitting. This time was different, and the rules changed when she was standing with her face in a corner!
The giggling stopped and was replaced by a pouty face, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes filling with tears, and stood there making her “I’m trying to to cry face”. It broke my heart! I kneeled down beside her and talked to her about how she was acting and told her if she stood there for a couple of minutes we could start over fresh and go to McDonald’s still. She accepted this answer at first, but thirty seconds later she was sticking her tongue out at me!
Long story short, we spent the better part of an hour battling it out! She would get out of the corner and run around the house, she would stand there and make faces at me, and at one point she even spit on my floor! Where the hell did this behavior come from? She had NEVER acted like this before and I hope it is not the new norm!
When she finally did calm down, did apologize, and was able to explain what she had done wrong (by this time it was a long list!) we got into the car and drove to McDonalds. Now I know what your thinking, you gave in even after she acted that way? Tsk Tsk! Yes I did, but not for the reason you might think! I knew so much time had passed that the volunteer would no longer be there and I wanted to show my daughter that she missed out because of the way she had been acting! When we arrived she was disappointed but she did understand that it was because we took to much time to get there. I explained to her how we would have been on time if she had stayed away from the puddle, and she understood! The next time I say “If you (blah blah) … we won’t be able to (blah blah)” she will know it is true and not something I’m making up to get her to do what I want.
She asked “can we come next week” and I said “yep, if you don’t act foolish and listen to us”. She stopped and thought about this for a while and said “Did I act like that when I was a baby?” And I told her no she didn’t act that way and then she responded with “because when I was a baby I learned my lesson and then I forgot when I turned four!” ….. Oh goodness …. what else has she forgotten? LoL