Parenting is hard. Can I get an, “Amen”?
A couple of weeks ago after a trip to the mall, we were totally exasperated with all the begging, whining and pleading. My wife told our son that when he was born, we promised that we wouldn’t spoil him. Once we explained what exactly “spoiling” meant, he couldn’t understand why it was a bad thing. It sounded okay in his book. In the mind of a 6 year old, spoiling is exactly what you want.
It makes perfect sense.
Last week he was grumpy in the bath-tub and I asked why.
“I don’t get everything I want,” he replied. Well, join the club!
(The latest “want” is a “Bow-Rod,” some kind of fishing device. We only have two kids’ channels (no cable) and PBS doesn’t have hardly any commercials, yet my son already has the next 5 Christmases and Birthdays planned out.)
Tonight we entered a ridiculous, full-fledged, DefCon4 meltdown.
If there was a political party that was “anti-bath,” my son would join it. Except, he hates it till he gets in. Then he often resists getting out. Tonight was different, though.
First, he requested the “bath monster,” which is how I often trick the kids into taking a bath. It’s more fun if I grab them, tickle them and carry them to the bathroom while making noises. But I was tired and not in the mood.
After waiting a little, I began taking away toys, and declared the evening, “NO CARTOONS!”
Still didn’t work. I finally picked him up and carried him normally into the bathroom.
That’s when WW3 broke out:
“I DON’T WANT A BATH!”
“GIVE ME A BATH TOMORROW!”
“WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO GO FIRST. I WANT EVA TO GO FIRST.”
(mom and I figured out early on that when Dad gives the bath, the son goes first, when Mom gives the bath, the little girl goes first. we are consistent but no one notices; each kid believes he/she goes first every time and shows up with lawyers to try and get out of going first)
“I WANT MOM TO GIVE ME A BATH!”
(thursday is always dad’s night, and besides that, mom had a long day, including volunteering at Eva’s school)
While he was yelling, I simply blocked the door so he couldn’t run out and planned to wait it out. I then slid down with my back to the door and began taking his clothes off. The tub had been ready for a while at this point.
Then I held him in my lap, he flailed at first, and then sat calmly, but continued to yell, cry and (my personal favorite) hyperventilate. As he sat in my lap in his undies, I rubbed his back and tried to calm him.
After a few minutes of the above refrains and tears, I finally tried to take off his underwear and told him he was going in the tub with or without them. He resisted, I picked him up and gently put him in the water, undies and all.
More crying and screaming. I told him I would help with his hair (even though he can do it himself) once he calmed down and then I left and would occasionally check on him. Mom was in the garden and she checked on him once.
He told me that his brain wouldn’t let him calm down. But finally, the hyperventilating stopped.
We had a quick bath. And, guess what? He was smiling, silly, and back to normal again.
I still haven’t recovered. It would have been easy to put off his bath till the morning (although inconvenient), to see if mom would do it, or give in on some way………but, I have dealt with too many adults (self included) who threw adult tantrums when they didn’t get their way.
Some leave church. Some just get mad. Some give you the silent treatment.
I stayed calm and never yelled. It wasn’t easy but neither is parenting. And neither is Love.
The good news today is that he plans to marry a classmate, Frankie (Francesca).