I have fabulous children. Seriously. They rock. I have a son who is 8 (let's call him Skip) and a daughter who is 5 (let's call her Zoe). I always say if I had a catalogue and could pick out any kids in the world, I would pick them every time. I would gladly be their friend if I wasn't already their mom.
The thing is, my perfect son (as noted by his teacher, by the way) enjoys terrorizing his little sister who simply adores him.
After listening to a morning of ...
"No, you stop it."
"No, you stop it."
I have politely asked them to be nice to each other.
We've had discussions about the topic.
So I went rogue.
I told my son that on Saturday, he would be his sister's personal slave from the time she awakened until 1 pm.
I didn't want to deal with it all day.
This is how I make most of my parenting decisions-- what is the easiest way out of this that won't require me to yell or be uncomfortable and yet still give me a good laugh.
Sad, but true.
I also think it keeps my kids on their toes.
You see, my kids are smart. This is fabulous most of the time except when it comes to discipline. They know I am never going to hurt them. So it has forced me to become very creative.
When my son was 3, we started the "We are going to leave unless you behave" technique. Bad idea. At a Christmas party where he was bored to death, he started acting up. I got down in my best Supernanny pose, looked him in the eye and said sternly "Skip, if you don't behave, we are going to leave, " to which he replied, exasperated "Good. I want to go home. I can't touch anything here."
So much for that technique.
I find that shock and awe work best with my kids.
When my son discovered he could unfasten his seat belt, the first time I simply told him to buckle it up. He realized I couldn't actually make him do it while I was driving. What he didn't count on was that I would immediately put on the hazard lights, pull over to the side of the road and start weeping - loudly- about how the police were going to come and arrest me, how he would end up with a different family while I was in jail because it was illegal for him to unbuckle his seat belt. Hey, it could happen. Let's just say, when my daughter was 2 and I heard him tell her "You have to stay buckled or Mommy will go to jail," I knew I had succeeded.
When it came time to potty train my daughter, she decided she wasn't interested. She loved her princess pull-ups (thanks a lot, Pampers). She also loved stickers. I explained that if she pee-peed, she'd get 1 sticker; if she poopied, she'd get 2. She was all smiles, then very seriously said "Let me see the stickers." I thought that was quite smart, got the stickers, she checked them out and said "Okay, I'll do it." For 2 days, she was perfect. Then she quit. When I asked her why she said "I got all the stickers I wanted." GREAT. On to Plan B....
I'm tucking her in, annoyed that she had won the battle and said "You know, Zoe, I heard the Diaper Police know you are still wearing diapers even though you are a big girl."
With big, wide eyes she asked "The Diaper Police?"
"Yes, they steal the diapers from big girls, like you, give them to babies and replace them with panties... I wonder if they are going to come tonight?"
She was fine.
And the list goes on.
Because in my short stint, so far as a parent, and in my fairly long stint as a person, I've learned a few things- yelling has never solved a problem (well, unless it's "Duck" or "Look out!"). Hitting most definitely does not (although both my children have survived the occasional butt smack- solely to remind them that I am bigger and they crossed a line- we're talking about 5 times each in their entire life- no need to call protective services).
Humor usually does the trick.
For instance, when they kept looking at each other in the backseat of the car (which was straight out of the "How to Irritate Your Sibling" handbook) at the beginning of a VERY long road trip, they knew that I would not leave them in Rachel, NV, to forage for themselves forcing them to work in the restaurant at the truck stop- Zoe as a lounge singer, Skip a bartender- both of them living in a broken down truck while my husband and I drove onwards, drinking martinis and singing songs. They also knew that I really wasn't going to remove their eyeballs and keep them in a jar until we arrived at our destination. But given those as choices, or the "STOP LOOKING AT EACH OTHER" option, they were too busy laughing to take it seriously, they stopped bothering each other and we had a fabulous trip.
I've mirrored temper tantrums- once for each child- in public. It just takes once. Something about seeing your mom sit down, in an aisle, and start yelling that she just wants to go home is quite effective. And cathartic, might I add.
Traditional parenting does not seem to work for me. I'm not a yeller. I'm not going to negotiate with terrorists. Especially 2 year old terrorists. I will, however, get them to laugh and change their behavior.
My son, in an effort to get my daughter to "release" him from his pending slavery, is being quite lovely to her. Ahhhh.... peace.
Don't get me wrong- I am not a pushover in the least. I'm actually quite strict. Homework gets done, beds are made, teeth are brushed, clothes are in the hamper, dishes in the sink- it's a tight ship. I guess I don't see the point in harping. Or nagging. Maybe I'm just lazy?
Or maybe it's a power trip? I am Mom. Now hop on your left foot.
That's my punishment for not listening. You have to play Mommy Says.
Touch your nose.
Okay, good, now you're listening. I thought your ears were broken. Come here, let me check "HEELLLLLOOOOOO...."
Phew. No need to go to the ER after all.
Now give me a kiss and quit bugging your sister.