Monday, September 13, 2010

9/13/2010 Athletic Feat

Yay! Katrina can finally, finally, climb up and down a barstool herself. And she's very proud of it!

She's been so adorable and fun and delightful. Tantrums are no longer a daily thing, and she's cooperative and cheerful about doing the few things we ask (like putting lunch or shoes away), and super happy playing with everything else, or just chatting together. This is total fun!

I had an amusing conversation with another mom at preschool today. I made a comment about her daughter's cute funky outfit, laughing, "Hey, cool psychedelic pants, Alison!" The girl's pants were brightly colored with lots of designs, and matched her T-shirt; it was really cute. Her mother rolled her eyes semi-joking and said, "Now that she insists on picking her clothes, that's what we end up with!" I answered in partial corroboration, "Hey believe me, I know -- Katrina picks all her clothes and we end up with this --" pointing to her purple striped shirt paired with dark-blue flowered leggings (changed after she got home to brown polka dots). "Oh I know," answered the mom, "Doesn't that make you crazy?!"

Uh, no, not at all. Compared to what her brothers put us through in the mornings, the fact that she picks her own clothes and usually puts them on herself is downright delightful. And I really, truly do not care that her pants and shirt don't match. If I even notice, I think it's funny.

The boys meantime...the painful saga continues. Starting at 5:30am today. Since we instituted a "no toys after 6:30am" rule, Gabriel made sure to get up extra-special early today to drop marbles on the wooden floor, waking the rest of the house except Julian who was already forced awake by the lights on. Needless to say, the "after 6:30am" concession was nixed immediately for "AT ALL until you're COMPLETELY ready for school." And add to that, "No lights on until 6:30am" -- it's just not fair to the other brother.

Gabriel was nonplussed when I informed him of this development in the car on the way back from school, so the resistance picked up right where it left off even before we got into the house. I'm finding that the video camera goes a long way toward improving their behavior -- and mine, because I'm certainly going to save my screaming like a lunatic and losing control for off-camera.

Here's Gabriel deliberately refusing a direct order, and losing 20 minutes of playtime as a consequence.

(Could I just leave him in the car? Sure, it's safe in our cushy suburban neighborhood. But what if it weren't? What if we lived where my sister does, where the car is in a parking lot and you have to go through two locked gates to get to your door? And what if you think your kid just needs to do as he's asked? What if you need to move on with the evening without getting stuck at the first step? I'd already tried ignoring him for a few minutes, to let the situation defuse, but if that goes on too long then I find him playing outside and ignoring me. It is not too much of an imposition on his childhood to ask that he get out of the car, put his lunch and knapsack away, and start his homework -- which he could easily have chosen to do after school.)

Here's Gabriel later when I attempt to implement that consequence.

I'm glad to say that the camera put the kibosh on most of his rude comments, but sorry to say that both interactions ended up with palm-on-butt; the second time because he said something so offensively rude I'm too ashamed to post it.

Half the people who hear and read about our issues think we're being too soft, and the other half think we're being too harsh. Some say that he needs more attention; others say he needs more consequences. In the old days, there was consensus on how to raise children, and that's not necessarily better. I'm glad that spanking isn't a way of life for all kids anymore, but I'm sorry that it's viewed as so extreme that you're categorized as old-school, intolerant or unwilling to consider modern methods. I don't think spanking or raising your voice is necessary or desirable for most children (Katrina), but I do think that some children need very very strong measures (Julian). No one seems to know what to do with this one who rises to the challenge, embraces conflict, and meets you every step of the way.

If you do think of something, replace the part where you say "and that's IT" with "and that STARTS it," and you'll see the problem. There is no "and that's IT." Every consequence leads to another reaction and more escalation.

It was a better night for me though. I mostly kept my cool, though I was furious at having to literally put Gabriel to bed -- undress him, force him into the bath, brush his teeth, pull him out of the bath, put his pajamas on, since even after having his current favorite toy put away (the noisy morning marbles) he had nothing to lose and resisted and refused every single step. When I offered him a book to read in bed, he retorted, "Yes, a book called 'Why Are Moms Stupid'!" and I left.

This child is going to change the world, for better or worse, starting by changing me.


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