When did the time out stop being an effective tool to avoid a temper tantrum? Babyface goes to ballet class with two of her “good friends”. She used to call them her “best friends”, but I nipped that one in the bud.
[Digression starts here] She was scaring them away, acting all needy and following them around. 3-year-olds are no better than single men in their late 30s+. They want a challenge and can run surprisingly fast for their age.
If you get all up in another kid’s grill, you could be playing on the monkey bars by yourself for the next year. Nose picking in public and scary eyes are a natural progression from there. (Scary eyes = people who have their eyes so wide open you always see the whites around them. It’s a constant staring contest.)
I only learned this, when I watched Babyface get her heart broken by her “most best friend”, as she used to call her before I had to schedule an intervention. This is my privilege as a SAHM. I get to watch my kid make mistakes and then screw her up by giving her stupid advice.
Babyface: Are you my best friend?
So-called MBF: No.
Babyface: Are you my best friend?
So-called MBF: No, Tina, Michelle and Lacey are.
Babyface: But, are you my best friend?
So-called MBF: I have to go now.
Babyface: Okay, but are you my best friend?!?
Everything was going so great. Why’d she have to have “the talk” and repeat herself over and over again. She broke down right there on the ground; I shed my tears later in the toilet room.
This is where we had to have my own version of a Brady Bunch-style talk. I said, “you shouldn’t put labels on certain friends. You have a lot of great friends. Just play and have fun. Besides, if someone doesn’t want to play with you, then go ahead and bite them.” Well, I didn’t really include those last two words. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Force of habit from living with a husband who has mastered the art of the “uh, huh…oh, really.” [Digression ends here]
Anyway, we were about to leave ballet class and her friends were going the opposite direction. “I want to go with my friends,” she said.
“Our car is parked in the back. They’re going to their own cars and then going home. Don’t you want to go home and have a snack? Aren’t you hungry?” I asked, knowing that we were entering fragile territory, with a possible temper tantrum about to ensue. Deflect! Deflect!
“But, I want to go with them.” The bottom lip hadn’t fully extended, but I could see the tears well up at the base of her eyes. Here is where my headache starts to kick in.
“But, I don’t have the keys to any of the cars out front.” I wish I did (there was a nice Mercedes SUV with the dealer tag still intact). “We need to go this way.”
I had flipped the switch, but the fuse box was nowhere in sight. We went from 0 to 60 in 1 second. She screamed louder than a shotgun and decided to sit down right there and then. My ears still ringing, I got the evil eye from a teacher in a nearby studio and it was saying, “get your damn kid under control.” I know this look because I often distributed it, when I was single, before I knew better.
I tried to reason with her, going from calm to crazy and back and forth. “Honey, this is a quiet zone. Good girls are quiet here”, “If you don’t get up now, you’re going to get a time out when we get home”, “Please, please, please be a good girl and listen” to “I’ll sit here all day, if that’s what you want”. All failed attempts. I’m pretty sure this is how you foster schizophrenia in your child.
All of those times that I emphasized the word “persevere” were backfiring. She was persevering to be a pain in my ass. And, this is where I failed to persevere. Twenty minutes in, I caved and offered what I call crack-for-kids, candy. I’m no better than the creepy guy trying to coax the kid into a car and kidnap her.
I read somewhere once that bribery is not an option, when you are trying to get your kid to follow the rules. It makes them believe they’ll always get a reward for being good. And someday that reward will come in the form of cocaine and something, something… I read that a long time ago and my mind is pretty mushy these days.
First it was a sticker, now it’s candy. Soon she’ll be smoking dope. I think I need to carry some wine around in a cooler, so I can really persevere when she decides to plop her butt in the parking lot to get her way. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of unintentional tailgating.