My kids are no angels, they are as angelic as your average three and four year old can be. Not very. Ha. While they can be disobedient, throw tantrums and pretty much disagree with everything I say, they are not bad kids. I don’t think people run the other way when they see us walking through the doors at Papachinos. Well I hope not. I am their mother so I may be biased, but I’d say they are OK kids.
Well yesterday was new parenting territory for me. And if you had seen my kid yesterday, you would probably have made for the door FAST and encouraged you own child to avoid mine at any cost.
I put a blanket out on the lawn and we were enjoying the sun while the Husband cooked lunch. Hannah unpacked a black bag full of beach toys – creating general seaside mayhem, without the seaside. Liam and I were chatting on the blanket. Note: Liam was not playing with these toys. Many hours later, it was time to pack away and get ready for bath time. Even though Liam had not played with the toys, he happily started packing away. Hannah, however, sat on the steps like a boss, and was yelling orders to Liam along the lines of “you missed that one, go pick it up” and “don’t stand on my stuff!” So I came out and instructed her to get off her booty and help her brother. She ignored me. I repeated myself, and she looked at me in my face and turned to watch Liam. The third time, I used my very cross voice and told her to immediately step into action or face the consequences. Do you know this girl child just stared at me with a bored look on her face. At this point I told Liam that he had done enough, thank you very much and he could go bath. There were literally 5 little items left to collect. I could have let him pick them up and be done with it, but I needed to teach some little lady a lesson. I picked her up to standing position and marched her to the toys and told her to pick them up, she walked away. I marched her back, and she turned and walked off again. She started yelling like I’d asked her to pick up five live snakes. I told her AGAIN that she needed to pack away the toys that SHE had taken out, I explained over her shouting that Liam had kindly helped her but that she needed to do her share. I explained that if she didn’t, I was going to punish her. She stood there yelling in my face. I smacked her bottom and then she did the spaghetti-leg-move and fell to the ground like her legs couldn’t carry her. Tantrum time! I walked to the door and could see her peeping at me from under her covered face. I said firmly that I would not let her come in and bath if she did not pick up the toys. She turned over and carried on crying. I closed the door and she jumped up and started pounding the door. I was like WHO IS THIS CHILD?? Liam had never acted out like this before, and neither had she! The doors are glass so we could see each other, but I ignored her and made like I was watching TV. I yelled politely “pull yourself together, pick up the toys and then you can come inside.” She carried on crying. I was starting to get nervous because it was getting cold outside, it was after 5pm and she had been sick the last two days, I was going to have to crack if she didn’t, I couldn’t let my child stand outside in the cold. I mean there was teaching a lesson, and then there was going overboard to prove a point. I was praying that she would just back down and let me win. PLEASE let me win!! After about five minutes, she simmered down but was still death staring me through the door. I went to the door, walked towards the black bag and held it open, willing her to just pack the blinking toys away without saying a word. She obediently started to pick the toys up. Then she said “sorry mama, can I go bath now” and we hugged and she went to bath.
Sjoe!!! Later that evening, when all was forgotten, we were reading stories while she was being nebulised. Suddenly, mid-story, she pulled the mask off her face and said “I sorry, my legs were tired.” So I said oh, is that why you couldn’t pick up the toys? She nodded. I explained in simple terms that sometimes we are all tired but we still have chores and jobs to do – like I have to cook for the family even when I’m tired, or she has to put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, even if her legs are tired, and Daddy has to wash the cars, even when he is tired. And if we didn’t do our jobs, then things would be crazy! And she agreed with that. Then I went on to explain that going off her head like that was not acceptable. She agreed with that too. Then I did a reenactment of her craziness with loud crying and spaghetti legs effects and we laughed about that for a good five minutes. Then the three of us each had a turn to reenact her crazy episode and we took votes on who did it the best. Then Daddy came in and said it wasn’t funny, and wasn’t a joke and that I must stop encouraging bad behaviour. So we all stopped and quietly giggled behind the books we were reading so that Daddy couldn’t hear us.
Ay, I don’t know that I’m doing this right. How do other people handle disobedience and tantrums of such epic proportions that you actually aren’t sure what to do in that moment. People say once you’ve explained to the child, you administer the punishment (however you choose to punish) and leave the child to tantrum it out. But what then? What if the child won’t back down? Then what? Wow, I’ve never had to deal with a child that just WONT.BACK.DOWN before. It’s difficult! And as the parent, to come so far and then to just back down and say “ok, I’ll pick up the toys” after you’ve been through such an ordeal, just doesn’t make sense to me.
What would you have done? How do you handle outright disobedience?