How to checkmate a child
Between parenting fails — that morning when you had no unmoldy bread in the house for school lunches, the time you yelled at one kid when you were actually frustrated with the other, the day you mortified your child because you didn’t expect to have to get out of the car at drop-off and here you are in your jammy bottoms in the classroom — between parenting fails we all enjoy the occasional parenting win.
These are moment to treasure and savor, these times when, through design or accident, you play your hand well. It’s nice to be able to see the whole chessboard when you son or daughter is still focused on only a square or two. Here are two of my recent parenting wins.
“But mo-oooooo-mmmmm,” (Reed’s exasperation results in superfluous syllables), “Weeding will take forEVER!”
“It’ll take only 20 minutes.”
“Twenty minutes?? That’s forEVER!” whines my son.
“Really? Twenty minutes is a long time?” I query.
“Ye-eeee-sss!” (three syllables), “It’s waaay too long!”
“Twenty minutes is a really really long time?” I press.
“Ye-eeee-ssss! It’s a freaking long time!! “(I’ve pushed him to the limit and he’s used the dreaded but occasionally tolerated small-f-word.)
“Soooooo…I’m gonna be really generous with you, then. As a reward for weeding for 20 looooooong minutes, tonight you’re also gonna get 20 minutes on the Wii — an eternity!”
“Mo-ooo-mmmmmm…that’s not fair!!”
“Tessa, those shorts are too short.”
“They’re not, mom.”
“They don’t meet the school’s test. The school rule is that the shorts need to fall lower than your fingertips.”
“See, Mom?” She tugs on the shorts, dragging the crotch way down as she hikes her shoulders up to her ears. Her fingertips are now 6 inches above the bottom of her shorts. “The shorts are longer than my fingers.”
“Mo-oooooo-mmmmm!” my daughter, too, is a syllable multiplier. “All the other girls wear shorts like this!”
“All the other girls don’t have me as a mom.”
“I’m wearing them and you can’t stop me.” Her lower jaw juts.
Gambit: “You’re right. I will not tackle you and take those shorts off you today.”
She pauses to think, her jaw retracting.
“Is this where you tell me I can win the battle but I’ll lose the war?”
“And I’ll never see the shorts again if I wear them today?”
Don’t mess with the Queen.
Tell about one of your parenting wins. What was it about? How did it play out?
Adapted from LavenderLuz.com.
Lori is occasionally Queen for a Day with her tweens Tessa and Reed. She and her family live in the metro-Denver area. She writes regularly at LavenderLuz.com and her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield, available in mid-2013.