Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mama's Remorse

I'm stuck in that awful corner we parents get into when we make a threat we don't want to follow through with. We had two birthday parties scheduled for today. This morning was a swim party, and tonight is an awesome super-hero dress-up BBQ. We went to the swim party, and everyone had a great time. The kids were well behaved. The difficulty always comes when it's time to leave. I got the baby and 2 1/2 year old ready, and I spotted the 5 year old heading towards the pool. Following him, I said, "don't get back in the pool, it's time to go." He got faster. I repeated myself. He started down the steps. Then I heard myself say, "if you get back in the pool, you can't go to Tobey's party tonight." Dammit! Of course, he went right on in and continued to pretend not to hear me.

I walked to the other side, and I said, "Coocoo, do you hear what I'm saying? I will not warn you; if you don't come with us, you aren't going to the next party." Well, that was a warning, but I was trying to save face. I know many of the parents were listening, and most of them will be at the party tonight waiting to see if Coocoo gets to come. He ignored me again. I said goodbye as we were walking out, and he did get out and run to catch up.

To be sure he heard me, I asked him what I had said and to describe the situation. He recalled it with complete accuracy, ending with, "and I went back in the pool anyway." Yeah, he heard me. I have no "out." I can't let him go tonight.

What kids don't know about consequences is that it really does hurt the parent as much as it hurts them. I will dread all day long the look on his face when he watches his dad and brother go to the party. I'm sick about it, and I want to throw up. Why did I have to reach so deep? Why couldn't I have said he'd spend an hour in his room or loose his computer for a week? Or just not made a threat at all while on my toes?

The new book I'm reading, Have a New Kid By Friday, says not to warn or threaten. It says to make your request calmly, walk away, and allow the child to make his own consequences. If I had done that, I would have had more time to come up with a consequence. Then again, if it doesn't hurt, what's the point? I have to establish respect and obedience now if I ever wish to make it a habit.

Now I have the horrible image of me running after him, out of control, spouting off threats with him ignoring me. I think we both lost this one.

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