I am a sucker for second chances, third chances, fourth chances… In every aspect of my life. Naturally, my kids had this figured out in the first 48 hours of life. And instead of decreasing my tolerance for chance giving, I choose to stress out and create more ridiculous consequences in my mind, hoping one will resonate with them. This has resulted in the generation of outlandish and creative consequences by my children as well, particularly Callie. Recently, our conversation went like this while returning home from school.
From the backseat, Callie: “Momma, I want chocolate milk.”
“Callie, I don’t have any chocolate milk with me. You will have to wait until we get home.”
“Momma, if you don’t give me chocolate milk right now, I will chew off your face and poop in your eye.”
Our conversations often go like this. She makes her request. I decline the request. Some possible responses I will hear:
“If I don’t have my bapu (pacifier) right now, I will throw up.”
“If you don’t let me go outside right now, I will eat your ears and then leave you forever.”
“If I can’t have candy right now, I will freak out and you will be sad.”
I have begun to realize that she is randomly compiling the stuff she hears from me when I am at my wit’s end, and she is rearranging it, adding her own flair. As I get more tired, more exasperated, my responses to bad behavior start to deflate, and resort to primal, animal-like responses. I don’t recall threatening to chew off her face, but I might have used some combination of these words? My chances go on, I don’t nip things in the bud, and now I’ve created a little girl who will threaten to poop in your eye if you don’t give her what she wants.
As I write this, I look over at her lying on the bed, laying there, watching me, sucking intently on her bapu, with a calculated look in her eyes. If I give her more than a furtive glance, she will try to woo me like a siren at sea, breaking into “You are My Sunshine.” We are at the close of an extremely long bedtime saga this evening. Lots of stuff has gone down. Caleb brushed the dog with his toothbrush. Callie announced and cheerfully made two trips to the bathroom where she made faces at herself in the mirror, lifted the toilet seat cover up and down several times and flushed, all without actually going potty. There were several incidents of pinching. Caleb practiced counting up to 100 and backwards to 1 while Callie belted out “Jesus Loves Me.”
I issued several verbal warnings. The warnings started out promising. “I will separate you.” “You will lose TV in the morning.” But the kids’ violations just didn’t seem that serious, not serious enough to follow through on with real consequences, and so I just kept throwing more stuff out there and I got more tired of reminding them to quiet down and go to sleep. I figured that I might outlast them and they might tire themselves out. And they finally did. There is probably a better way. I keep telling myself I have to choose my battles and their bedtime behavior isn’t really that bad. *Sigh.* There will probably come a day when there is a showdown, and the one who leaves with his or her face intact will be the winner.