Today was one of those days where I wanted to get in my car, drive to the nearest parenting class and sit there until I understood how to do this. It started out OK. I weeded the flower bed and washed the car while the girls played in the water and then sprayed each other endlessly in summer fun. The afternoon – which was hotter than I think any other day this summer – was spent watching the Olympics while they practiced their Rhythmic Gymnastics (as seen on TV).
The troubles, in fact, did not begin until the TV was off and bedtime was upon us.
As per our ‘Rules for School‘ chart, bedtime is now 7:30. School starts in a few weeks and I really want a solid schedule for the kids before it does. So we are adhering to the chart as best we can.
After some protest, the oldest and youngest laid down to drift off into peaceful slumber. That is, after 75 hugs each, secrets told in my ear and proclamations that they are scared of the dark despite 3 nightlights in their rooms.
It is my middle daughter who makes the terrible 2’s look like a cake walk. As wonderful, intelligent and beautiful as she is, she is in this defiant stage that might drive me to love Vodka.
She has her own routine at bedtime. She wants milk and usually a snack. Once she gets that, she is satisfied and OK to sleep. But sometimes, even with that, she is bound and determined to drive me flipping mad with her bad behavior.
What does she do?
She gets this attitude that is blatant disregard for my authority. No is her new favorite word and she spouts it off at any opportunity. And no amount of discussion, threats or promises gets her to settle down when she is in this mood.
She challenges me… literally. Argues her point, repeats over and over and over and over again what her request is despite my attempts to get her to understand that bedtime is non-negotiable.
“I wanna a pear!” “I wanna pear!” “I wanna pear”! “Give me a pear NOW!”
And on and on it goes. And when I say, “You have to be quiet for 5 minutes and then you can have a pear.” I get, “NO, NOW. Give me my pear NOW!”
I take a deep breath and try again.
“Sarah, mommy said you could have a pear if you are quiet for 5 minutes. Your sisters are trying to sleep!”
“NO! NOW! Give it to me noooooowwww!”
High pitched and whiny, she is more shrill in a quiet house – as you can expect -and almost always gets the attention of her sisters who are almost asleep.
Negotiations don’t work. Begging does not work. Promises of 17 bedtime stories does not work. Nothing works until she gets her way.
Which I would happily give her every single time she asks but, at some point, she has to learn that she can not always get her way by acting badly.
Or can I just let her have what she wants to keep the peace?
Of course I can’t. So, just as I did tonight – and probably for the last 129 nights, I’ll just keep taking deep breaths until I can figure out what it will take to get her to listen and not be so demanding.
I am open to suggestions… of nannies I can hire.
Lots of deep breaths.
And then some more deep breaths.
Because, in parenting, the one thing I have learned is that sometimes things get really hard and the solution is not evident immediately. And sometimes it is not evident for a really long time. Like until they just miraculously outgrow the behavior one day.
It better be soon.
And then they replace it with something else. Like a boyfriend with a motorcycle and a tongue ring.
Parenting is fun.
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