I am not a believer in empty threats. I firmly believe that if you threaten your child with some type of discipline, you have to carry through with it, no matter how inconvenient it may be for you.
Children are wonderful little beings, but you give them an inch and they take a few thousand miles. And you do them no favors by teaching them their actions don’t have consequences.
It was beautiful here Wednesday. The sun was shining, the sky was a gorgeous cobalt blue and the thermometer hovered in the 70s. Relishing the day, I packed up the kids and drove to the local playground.
A few minutes after arriving, we landed in the big sandpit. Peanut started digging a big hole while all Loaf wanted to do was use a sand mold to make herself a sea horse. Upon finishing she proudly declared, “Look Mommy! Look my sea horse!”
Before I could even praise her, Peanut rushed over and stomped on it.
“Don’t do that again,” I warned. “Say you're sorry.”
Peanut apologized with a shit-eating smile on her face and Loaf remade the sea horse. But again, within seconds of finishing it, Peanut rushed over and crushed it.
While Loaf shrieked, I grabbed Peanut by the arm. “I’m serious. Don’t do that again. If you do, we’re leaving. We’ll go right home.”
As soon as the threat left my lips, I regretted it. I should have instead put up “no treat tonight,” or an on-the-spot time out. I really did not want to leave the park on such a beautiful day, and this was a punishment that affected the very well behaving Loaf as well.
On the other hand, I figured the threat was weighty enough that she’d take it to heart. I knew she didn’t want to leave.
I. Was. Wrong.
The third sea horse was instantly destroyed and all the worse, she looked right at me while she did it, daring me to act.
“OK we’re going. Right now. Get your shoes.”
“NOOOOO!” she bellowed as she ran from me. A couple of nearby moms looked over and I instantly felt the shame of being judged for not being able to control my own kid. I caught her by the arm and pulled her to me, but she leaned forward and sunk her teeth into my shoulder.
From this point on, the situation became the proverbial runaway train.
“DON’T YOU EVER BITE ME OR ANYONE ELSE,” I screamed, no longer caring about the other mothers at the park.
I turned to Loaf. “We have to go honey. I’m sorry, but Peanut is misbehaving and we all have to go.”
Well, Loaf did not want to go. She simply shook her head while continuing to scoop sand into her bucket. It became clear I was going to have to carry her out and the only way I could do that was to let go of Peanut.
As I reached down to pick up Loaf, Peanut grabbed two fistfuls of sand and dumped them on my head. Sand ran through my hair, down my face, landed in my eyes and gathered in my bra. This kid is going to drive me drink,
Furious, I picked up Loaf, stood and grabbed Peanut by the arm once again. “Now, in addition to leaving, you’re going to get a nice long time out when we get home.”
The sandpit is in the back of a very big park. I still had to maneuver past all the swings, slides, other equipment and about a dozen benches filled with happy, chatting mothers.
I had Loaf balanced on one hip and Peanut by the arm. Both were shrieking. Neither was wearing shoes nor socks, so I had those cupped in the hand at the end of the arm that was supporting Loaf. Every now and then, I’d drop a shoe or sock and had to stoop to pick it up.
It was the longest walk ever and I felt every single eye on us as we passed.
As we approached the parking lot, I sat them both on a bench and slipped on their shoes, but Peanut kept kicking hers off. So I asked Loaf to walk and picked up Peanut, who proceeded to pinch me – hard – on the back of my arm. She then drove her index finger forcefully into my collarbone. (Seriously, are they teaching self-defense at her preschool? Where the hell is she learning this stuff?)
When we got to the car, I set the barefoot Peanut down on the rough gravel, no longer really caring if the stones hurt her feet.
“You stand here and you don’t move one inch. Got it? Not one inch or you won’t see a minute of TV for the rest of the week.”
She was either totally worn out or she finally realized I was serious, because she stood exactly in that spot while I buckled the very unhappy Loaf (”Want to stay! Want to stay at park!” )
into her car seat.
Both girls screamed and cried all the way home. Peanut was sent straight to her room and Loaf sat on the front step and pouted for several minutes.
Me? I poured myself a big, tall glass of cold lemonade. Then dumped a shot of vodka in it for good measure.
Sometimes, even the threats you make in your own head need to be acted upon.
Labels: Adventures in Parenting, drinking, Temporary Insanity