Parenting Win or Fail? It’s a matter of perspective…
Children are amazing creatures of observation and frequently in the moments that you don’t want them to be. They also have the amazing capacity to understand their world around them, more so than I think most people give them credit for. As I sat here today, thinking of something sarcastic and yet somehow inspiring for my blog, I racked my brain for things which would make a good story. I realized long ago I should’ve logged many of the phrases that my children have said because while I can remember laughing heartily at them at the time, most of them seem to escaped my mind. They were always little things, things which we didn’t even realize were habits.
At the very moment I was torturing myself for something to write and anything which would mean I had been writing productively today while somehow avoiding working on my novels which are in dire needs of endings, my youngest found a cork under the carpet. Now, before you judge, our house is fairly clean, at least average and pretty good considering I run home-child care from it. The corks, once pulled from their bottles, are frequently a toy for the cat (why did I bother buying all the amazing cat toys when a cork or 10 will suffice?) and thus end up underneath any available piece of furniture in my house. Anyways, I digress slightly. It wasn’t so much that he knew the cork belonged to “mommy’s drink” (bad enough) but also that he took it and attempted to shoot it.
All right, perhaps I do need to explain this. We have a game in our house. On top of our highest kitchen cabinet (about 9 ft) we have a vase full of corks. Anytime we open a new bottle, we try to get in in the vase. Really a pointless game with no reward for the winner, but somehow it’s become the game nonetheless. And a game which my two year old had observed and understood the objective of. What’s worse? Of course I encouraged it, holding him up and letting him through it as many times as he wanted until it finally bounced down underneath the fridge. Great parenting huh?
I have an even better example of my parenting which could be used as a prime example of a parenting win or fail, depending on what kind of parent you are. When our oldest was about 2, he went through a phase when he refused to use my name. Instead, (and to this day, I don’t know where he got this name) he called me Da-Boo. Seriously. Everyday for months. I was so annoyed by it (and in the end it wasn’t really a big deal, as I referenced about in my blog just the other day) that I spent hours trying to convince him to call me mommy.
As it persisted (and he knew he was getting under my skin with it) I grew more and more annoyed. I stopped responding to him when he would ask for things from Da-Boo, but the little booger just started to ask his dad. I knew he would grow out of it, but I decided one day that I was going to expedite the process. I was getting ready to fly out of country for 10 days and as we were going to the airport, he continued to call me Da-Boo. When I got out of the car, I told him I would like him to use my name otherwise I was going to leave and not come back for a while (true but cruel). He stared straight at me and said. “No, I call you Da-Boo. Da-Boo.” I shook my head and boarded the plane.
Now, about half way across the ocean, I did feel the pangs of guilt set in as I wondered if I had done irreparable damage to my child. Would he be so worried that I was never coming back? I mean, I didn’t use that exact phrasing but did he know that? Would I have a child who was going to constantly be worried I wasn’t coming back to him or worse would he start rumors at his childcare that I had run away? I couldn’t call him when I got in since he was already at childcare but when I talked to him that night, I think I played it well. As he took the phone and said “Sorry, Mommy! No more Da-Boo!” I smiled and nodded my head. I explained to him I appreciated him using my name and that I would be back in 10 days and with his dad, he could put a sticker on his calendar until he had 10 and then he would know I would come back.
From that moment forward, we never had a Da-Boo name incident. And I’m fairly certain he doesn’t even remember the slightly alternative and perhaps a little mean, tactic I used to make sure he wouldn’t do that to me again. So, as far as I can see, there was no lasting damage and we did nip this “button pushing” in the bud.
So, sometimes something which wouldn’t work for some other child will work for yours. And even if you feel a little guilty about it, it can be worked into a positive. Remember, children can smell weakness (perhaps more than a dog) and they will hone in on to it. Keep a variety of tactics in your arsenal and remember the game is always evolving and hopefully, you will manage to stay just one step ahead of them. Just remember too… they are always watching and listening.
I mean, seriously? How can these little faces be so conniving? I’m telling you, it’s part of their defense and assault tactic all wrapped in one cute dimpled smile!