Here’s Simcha Fisher’s post at National Catholic Register. For the Catholic who celebrates Halloween and All Saints Day. Costumes that serve double duty. And funny. As always.
I wanted to share this story. No matter the number of children, we all have our shortcomings and our failings. I know I certainly do.
I choose joy. And sometimes joy is my mind’s second choice, because there are moments I’d rather choose misery (which is occasionally a comfortable place to wallow). Also, since this website is actually named for the five eternal souls that I don’t have the privilege to raise here on earth, I never cease to count my blessings for those five who walk this planet and call me mom.
That was a typo. I meant whinery … because today, apparently a whinery is where I reside.
I wish it were the other winery. Then, maybe in the name of wine tasting or something, I’d have an excuse to drink at 10 a.m.
It started with Henry handing me a flashlight and standing before me saying, “Ahhhh.” So I’d look at his throat in the hopes that he may be ill and get to stay home.
“You’re not sick Henry,” I informed him.
“Why do I have to go to school?” For full effect you have to say that in a very high-pitched tone, completely unbecoming a 10-year-old boy.
His tune and tone quickly changed when he found out it was red-and-white day, and he could ditch the uniform and wear jeans. Which is odd. He could care less about the uniform. But he was out of the house waiting on the driveway before Richard even had his keys. That was manageable.
Unfortunately, Lillian quickly picked up where Henry left off. With a sticky taffy-pull of a declaration that none of her shoes were acceptable, and therefore, school was not an option. Let me remind you of Lillian’s shoe obsession, here and here. (And for the record, both of those kids love school. It’s just, they’d rather not be bothered to actually have to get ready for it.)
Then, turning the tables, my blue-eyed Sybil demanded, “I’ll go, only if I can go early and play.” Lillian covets time in the daycare room. But, since she can’t read a clock yet, I just sort of skirted that suggestion entirely and took her at regular time. Avoidance is an excellent parenting (and life) skill. I depend on it even more often than procrastination. So, round two, also manageable.
Then came the ONE that makes me dream of living here. (It’s not too far off. One simple letter change in the last name.)
Clifford is potty training. That is something that I promised myself I wouldn’t write about. You know, leave the kid his dignity.
I need to start with the positive: He’s been an eager trainer.
Mostly because it involves changing his clothing frequently and/or being completely naked. (Which is his preference.)
Now the negative: The problem with the nakedness is the fact that it can only be temporary. Yes, he can be naked and successful at the potty at home, but there comes a time when he has to get dressed. We have to take someone here or there. And, I can assure you I have told him that public nudity is not only frowned upon, it is also illegal. But that reasoning just doesn’t seem to work on his I’d-rather-go-comando brain. Nor does any kind of negotiation.
I am trying to opt out of the power struggle (remember my expertise in avoidance?), and he continually wants to drag me back in. Whining, kicking and screaming. So, as far as who’s got the power–sadly I have to say, it’s him.
When I heard myself say, “Cliff, get your pants on, and I’ll give you a piece of candy,” I knew I was in need of an intervention. I don’t operate that way. He didn’t take the bait anyway.
Candy versus power? He’ll take power every time.
And in the end, I’m still stuck strong-arming the little anaconda into his clothing, then (again) forcefully strapping him (most often sans shoes and socks) into his carseat. (Maybe someday I’ll video the process. I have become rather skillful, and it’s probably worth a laugh or could at least be shared as an educational video for novice moms.)
Although in the end, I’ve got the POWER power, it’s not without us both working up a sweat, him screaming and me hoping child social services doesn’t happen by. Because surely they would have missed the prior 45 minutes of my highly skilled and enlightened, yet woefully unsuccessful parenting techniques. (My husband often reminds me that the “don’t negotiate with a terrorist” adage applies to two-year-olds.)
Really, the physical kind is most certainly not the kind of power struggle I want to engage in. (Even if I win. For now.) I really don’t want any struggle. But whoop and whine there it is.
I’ve been reading this great book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, by Wendy Mogel. In one part she discusses how children want (need) to know that parents are in control. She gives analogy of parenting and dog training. You know, how you need to establish alpha status. Because if the dog becomes dominant, it becomes both bossy and timid. I agree with that. Parents need to establish limits, and kids are generally happier and more productive when they can operate freely within those limits. And although I’m not seeing the timidity on the horizon yet with Cliff, I am seeing the bossy. Most every command I bark, whether veiled as a happy sing-songy suggestion, a let’s-cooperate-and-be-happy play thingy, or just a plain old marching order, his response is a resounding long-trailing squeal of a “Nooooo.” And then he hides behind the couch. Why? He is two. So my feeble attempts of establishing even a modicum of the ”because I said so” alpha authority are completely futile with my birthday-suited son.
I’m also completely lost on the coming up with natural consequences. And I’m not fully in agreement with that school of thought anyway. (Sometimes the natural consequences are the established punishments that come along with not being obedient.) But a time out or two or 20 isn’t going to help me when we have somewhere to be. Plus, if I give him a time out and he’s already naked, I’m not really sure how that’s even a punishment for anyone but me. And if I wrestle him into clothing before the time out, you can be darn straight he’s wiggled out of them by the end. All and all it still ends with another whiny sweaty tussle.
So here are my ground rules: I will not take him out to the car naked. There are probably rules about that anyway. You know, the public nudity and all. Even if I did, he wouldn’t freeze, and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t care. He runs about 20 degrees hotter than normal humans anyway. It’s hereditary. If anyone can tell me the last time they’ve seen my husband in a coat, they’ll win this:
So moms, I’m open for suggestions. Give ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. I thought I’d know how to handle this by now. Especially after all the parenting wisdom I’ve gained from this one.
In the mean time. Anyone got a straw?