I tend to get trumped by kid-logic, which doesn’t always make it easy to assert control. I had two moments of success today that make me think I’m getting the hang of the whole “I’m bigger than you therefore you do as I say” thing.
1. Ella sees it as a matter of personal pride and an important gesture of autonomy to snatch her hand from mine before we’ve reached the other side of the road (any road). She did it today and I gave her a talking to which, as per usual, she interrupted with her own account of things:
“Well anyway, Mum and Dad don’t hold our hands when we cross these roads. This isn’t even a road!”
The road in question wasn’t really so much of a road, it’s true, it was more of a carpark entranceway. This is where I normally get stumped. I think: You know, she’s right, it’s not really a road. I guess it’s not worth fighting over. I don’t want to have to come up with some hard and fast rule about ALL roads big and small when it doesn’t really make sense…
But this time I got it. I said: “It doesn’t matter if it’s a road or not. When I say you hold my hand, you hold my hand.”
Anna 1: Ella 0
2. Benji didn’t get much sleep last night. He had his first sleepover at a friend’s, and apparently they were talking till midnight. Good times.
After he was returned to me he was repeating everything Ella and I said, as kids do. Fair enough. I told him to stop, he did. Then he goaded Ella into copy-catting him so that he could whinge about it to me. I dealt with that. Then he started up the copying again and this time I’d had enough so I told him to stop and he didn’t and then I looked at him and said: “DON’T!” and I really meant it.
Not to be cowed without a fight, Benji said “No, you have to tell me what you’ll do if I don’t stop. I won’t stop until you tell me.”
Is this kid good at manipulation, or what? He knows exactly what the adult says next, he knows the script, so he pre-empts you and pulls the rug out from under you by doing it.
This is where I would normally fall down. I would bluster about and threaten him with something, knowing the whole while it made no difference at all.
This time, I looked at him and said: “There aren’t any consequences. You’re going to stop, because I say so.”
Anna 1: Benji 0.
Now my three days of child-minding are done, and nothing makes a grown-up house feel more luxurious than the silence the little skwawkers leave in their wake.