20 November 2012

On Getting Creative

When I started to get taller than my parents, I realised something.  I had power.  I could say, "you can't make me."

My children already have that kind of power - and they have said that to me since they were sufficiently articulate.  This is my body and I choose what to do with it.  You can't make me.  Of course, I *could* - there are many things I could force them to do, if I were willing to get into a battle of wills over whatever it is that they disagree with me on.  I *want* to give them that power - I want them to have those words - and when they use their power to refuse me...  Well then I just have to get creative.

Now I'm not talking about trying to force them to, say, eat peas.  Or put their coat on.  For the former I have, "pretending I don't notice what they eat and don't eat so that I don't stress about it" and for the latter I have "stuffing a pac-a-mac in the bag so that there is something for if they get cold later".  These are small cases, in which letting them own their own bodies is important, and the consequences are ones we will all survive, and not saying "I told you so" is the lesson in parental self-control that reminds me how much growing up I still have to do.  ;)

Then, every now and again, a bigger test comes along.

Last week Rowan decided she didn't want her car seat any more, and we had a trip planned.  I briefly fantasized about just putting her in the seat against her will, fighting her in with the justification that I was keeping her safe.  I was stuck in "two option" mode.  I win, or she wins.  What happens next?

I started brainstorming at random.  Would she like the red seat out of the attic instead?  Nope.  Would she sit in the seat if we moved it to another place in the car?  No way!  Well, did she want to miss the trip?  Tears of distress, but NO give on the car seat.  Was it uncomfortable?  No, just "for babies", and no amount of pictures of much bigger kids in five point harnesses was having any impact.  What about if we got pretty new covers for her car seat - BIG girl covers?  No.  (But she sounded interested.)

Then I hit on the genius idea that fixed it for Rowan.  Would she like me to embroider hedgehogs on her seat?  Now, she was quite set on not ever going in a car seat again, but the thought of having hedgehogs embroidered on it...  Who could pass up hedgehogs?  Not my three year old, anyway.  She picked out pink and purple felt, and went to bed happy, telling me she was looking forwards to riding in her seat in the morning.

DSC09593

Sometimes it's that easy for everyone to win.

*phew*

8 comments:

  1. I would like to say I would have done something equally creative with Oscar, but it is possibly a 50/50 or maybe I am being slightly unfair to myself and its 70/30. I remember saying no to my Mum for the first time and following through. She had asked me to go to the shop for milk and I didnt want to go. I dont think there was a reason, except it had occurred to me that the only way she could make me go was to physically drag me there herself. At that point I had also realised that would defeat the purpose of sending me. Now I think to myself that I was a little S**t, but I suppose it was more than that, it was a huge milestone in development. I dont think my Mum would have been able to solve that particular stale mate with a hedgehog ;)
    V
    xxx

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    1. It's wonderful when everyone wins. I don't know if I believe everyone can get what they need all of the time, and the less coercion I use to protect them all the better I feel about it, but still. Some days - well, some days they are all feeling tired and cross, and can't stop being rude to each other, so we just head home rather than stopping at the nice cafe we planned to get tea and cake at. Oh well. The good moments are pretty good. :)

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  2. I think the Nobel Peace Prize is in order!! I would never, never have thought of such a thing and yep tears and tantrums would have ensued the following morning! You are one really clever mama!

    San xx

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    1. I don't know that I ever would have thought of it either, it just popped into my head out of nowhere. :) There haven't been any arguments about the seat since. :)

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  3. What a wonderful idea Sarah, isnt it funny what a difference a hedgehog makes hehe :)
    Charlie is a real homeboy and would happily stay home every day as for me arghhh I*need* to get out for some part of every day, I use the good old tactic...have grumpy mama or cheerful mama cos a bit of fresh air sure makes me more cheerful x

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    1. Yep my children often get the choice of grumpy mama or nice mama! There *is* a consequence you have to live with when you don't take care of everybody! ;) xx

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  4. great idea....my youngest often refuses to sit in her car seat at 2 and a half....even when we have moved it....I think as her sister is 7 years older she thinks she is the only one who has to have one....even though we have been out with nieces and nephews etc who all still need car seats. Any ideas for how to get her dressed without chasing her all around the house or it turning into an argument?

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    1. I tend to leave plenty of time, give single step instructions (get pants and socks on, go find a tshirt, put your shoes on, get your jacket) and I catch them in age order so that the younger the child the longer they have to do something themselves before I help them (mostly because my smaller ones tend to strip if I leave them "ready" too long). My expectation is that by four they will be *able* to get themselves ready, but they won't do it every time. They do as much as they can, and I help with the rest, and none of them have ever been keen on being dressed by me. I expect to have to do a fair bit of toing and froing myself while they're small. xxx

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Penny for your thoughts? :)