Aug 4, 2009

Mothering Fail

So, today, we're trying a new experiment.

Whereas Katie can't be trusted to sleep in the guest room, and
Whereas putting her and Evie in the same room for nap was an unmitigated failure, and
Whereas she clearly isn't getting enough sleep,
Now, therefore, she is lying in a little blanket bed on the living room floor under my reluctantly watchful eye. She has a stack of books and a big stuffed animal. I'm playing new agey meditation music on the computer.

So far, I've had to remind her of the no-talking rule 6 times. She's been (sort of) down 10 minutes.

The sleep thing is getting to be a real issue because her behavior is exponentially worse when she's tired. She's 10 times as sassy, 10 times as defiant, and 10 times as disobedient. Given that she's really rather sassy, defiant, and disobedient in the first place (well, she is almost 4!), it makes for days filled with parenting crises of confidence.

I get tired of spending what feels like 90% of my time yelling at her. It's not fair to her. It's not fair to Evie. It's not fair to me. I don't like my household to be wreathed in such negativity but I also know it's my job to civilize my child. I can't release her out into the wild without such things as manners, knowing when to shut the fuck up, how to be considerate to others, yada yada yada.

This boils down, at this point, to teaching her that disobedience has a price. The trick, however, is proving to be finding the price that will make her realize it's not worth it.

Take picking up. I know, for a fact, that the child is perfectly capable of picking up; she's done it on multiple occasions. Sure, things may not always be in the most logical or "proper" spot afterward but, hey, she's 3. But, like most of us, she'd far rather play than pick up. Now, just so you know, I don't expect her to remember to pick up. She gets reminders - several - and some direction in how to go about it (even though she's proven she can do it without direction when she wants).

So, in comes Sol, the Pick Up Fairy. (Personally, I always imagined the Pick Up Fairy to be a girl - my husband, however, insists the PUF's name is Sol (for S.O.L.). Makes for an interesting visual since it's already been established that the PUF wears striped tights. Of course, it does explain the bowler hat - it covers his bald spot.) Sol recently added our house to his rounds. After Katie goes to bed, he comes and takes the toys she's left out. Some, he'll let me put away for Evie, some go off to Ukrainian orphanages. Sounds like it'd be a pretty good incentive to pick up, right? Yeah. So did we. So far? Not so much. We get a lot of "well, I didn't like that anyway!" and "I don't want it!" Yeah, she does the martyr thing. I absolutely hate taking my child's playthings away but, if she refuses to even make the attempt to take care of them, she doesn't deserve them. It usually leaves me on the verge of tears.

Another constant is refusing to put on her shoes. She knows how. She's actually quite good at it. But, if she doesn't feel like putting on her shoes, she refuses to. She'll sit there like a lump. Like after swimming class yesterday. Despite the pavement being "too hot!!!", would she put them on? No. She wound up having to go to bed without supper as soon as we got home. It seems an overreaction to the situation, I know, but it's so much bigger than the shoes. Because, basically, it all boils down to this: Do what you're told when you're told. And she doesn't... consistently, unremittingly doesn't.

Ironically, my 15 1/2 month old is far more obedient that Katie has ever been. She'll even willingly help pick up, she holds her foot out to have her shoes put on, she tries to help when we dress her (all three things, Katie never did). It gives me a little hope. Because, otherwise, I feel like a total failure as a mother.

Oh, by the way, now, 1/2 hour into naptime, she's had to move to her time out spot for the remainder of nap (with blanket, pillow, and stuffed animal) because she simply wouldn't stop talking.

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Anonymous Harriet M. Welsch said...

Deep breath. This is not a parenting fail. It is an ordinary parenting day, one all of us face at some time or another. I don't deal with these situations especially well either. On the one hand, I want AJ to behave. On the other, I don't want him to follow blindly (at least, I don't want him to follow anyone but me blindly). In general, while his obstinance is infuriating, it is also something that will serve him well later in life. I'm so ambivalent about his behavior that I tend to be wishy-washy in my response, which doesn't help matters at all. Hang in there. She will get through this stage and so will you! Hugs to you!

2:50 PM  
OpenID jerseytjej said...

I wish I had some sage advice to give you but I don't. The one thing I can tell you is that you have to be consistent. Once Katie finds out that she is not SOL with the toys, (ie: just hidden to teach her a lesson versus REALLY gone), she will begin to care...My 16 year olds STILL think I am shitting when they ask for the sweat jacket they left on the stairs and it is in the trash can...They have an option, they can go and retrieve it, wash it and remember not to leave it on the stairs, or they can leave it in the trash, at which point they KNOW better than to ask me for money for a new one. I tried to pick my battles carefully, but like you said, I owe it to society to send my kids out there as best prepared as I can. Sounds like she is just testing the parameters...hold the line, lol!

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lesson I'm learning this summer is to show Sonny who is boss. Regardless if he has disabilities he still needs to learn how to be kind and respectful. Of course I'm off on a tangent. What I'm trying to say is I'm kinda in the same boat when it comes to our kids behaviour. Big, big hugs!
I think the ages between 3 and 5 are the hardest. The little ones test the waters and authority because they have all this newfound language and understanding of the world. Their world. Not yours or mine. They have to learn how to live in our world and remember that the world doesn't revolve around them so much after 3-4. Especially when adding other children in the mix.

11:21 AM  

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