Monday, May 25, 2009

5/25/09 You get what you plan for

Today, I planned to do nothing. And I got what I planned for! An unproductive, little-bit-here little-bit-there, discontinuous, lazy day! We'd had a full weekend, I needed to catch up around the house. Which means doing, basically, nothing.

I wasn't motivated to go out partly because poor Katrina's GI tract had a touch of the Julians today. But she tried many times during the day to poop on the potty. She tried! She sat on the little potty and said she wanted to go! This is a far cry from her usual flat-out refusal. Unfortunately her efforts mostly yielded tears. Finally by afternoon, a suppository and a relaxing nap took care of the problem. Later in the day she pushed out some more pebbles into underpants, dashing my hopes of the first direct-to-potty delivery, but if there's anything I've learned about potty-training, it's to be thrilled with even the tiniest steps. Such as: she finally started to flush herself. I finally got her to "flush" by pushing on my arm as I pushed the lever, and last night, I saw her put her hand on the lever, then push on her arm with her other hand to flush!

So it was a nice relaxed day...until it came time to put away toys after dinner.

Would someone please explain the concept to me of teaching a child a lesson? If they resist a request to clean up toys, then you give them a clear task, set a timer, and state a consequence -- then if the child fails in his task, the consequence is carried out, and the child learns his lesson, right?

Where's the part in which they scream uncontrollably for a full hour about the consequence? Where's the part in which they hurl insults at you and blame you for not getting their task done? Where's the part in which every remaining step of the day produces fresh outbursts and crying and excuses and task-definition and consequences and more fruitless escalation? What's left when being with this child is a miserable, frustrating, painful existence for the rest of the family?

I could only be talking about Julian, of course. Gabriel by personality could easily be worse, but Gabriel's much more rational and calculated even at the height of conflict. Partly age, partly temperament. Julian falls into a seizure of victimhood, screaming out of control about the injustice, whereas Gabriel's fury is usually more directed -- harder to deal with, but Julian's way is still annoying beyond belief, and lasts a long, long time, wearing everyone out. In most ways, age 5 is fun with him, but his tantrums, if you can call these tantrums, have never been worse. What happened to my "angel baby" ?

One thing about having three children: your odds of not wanting to strangle all of them at any given moment goes up! Ah, but overall it was a good nothing day.


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