On Sunday, my parents brought down an electric train to go around our Christmas tree. They found it at a store and knew my kids would love it.
You see, my 3.5 year old son LOVES trains. I think he even wants to be a conductor when he grows up. He was thrilled when they walked in with the box. His eyes lit up and he jumped around. I think he even squealed.
We told him that it was for him AND his sister so they both had to "the s word" --- SHARE.
Then, the devil took over my beautiful angel boy who is usually the first to say "Thank you", "Please" and "excuse me."
Now, Devil turns to my parents and asks them to take back the train.
I was mortified.
I asked him to thank his grandparents for the train --and he REFUSED. So, I told him he was not allowed to play with the train until he showed some manners. He proceeded to have a hissy fit asking my parents to take back the train! So I calmly walked him to his room and told him to stay there until he wanted to come out to apologize to --and thank --my parents
2 HOURS LATER - my son still REFUSED to be polite and was actually very rude. This was not your average kid just not saying thank you b/c he was shy or tired or didnt know better. He was mean.
My parents ended up leaving, my son ate dinner in his room and went to bed quietly, while I stayed up and steamed.
What kind of child have I raised that he would be that blatantly disrespectful?
Why was he doing this?
How do I teach him to be grateful?
The next morning, my son woke up and... what do you think he wanted to do first?
.....you git it....play with the train.
Grinch - "I'm sorry but you will not play with the train until you call and thank mimi and papa. do you understand?"
Son - "Yes."
Grinch - "Do you want to call them so you can play with it?"
Son - "Not yet."
This went on for a couple hours.
Now, I am not the strictest of parents. I tend to talk my kids to death and listen - probably too much. But the way my son was behaving was unacceptable to me. I tried to explain that no matter what people give us, we need to be grateful b/c they are thoughts wrapped up in gifts.
So I say: "If you cant be grateful for gifts, then you are going to lose other privileges. Every half hour until you do."
Son (while shrugging) - "Okay."
Grinch: Do you want to call mimi and papa so you dont' lose anything?
This unsuspecting threat started the beginning of the end of this loooonnnggg day. Let me say upfront that I had NO IDEA the will power of this child, especially a 3 year old. I really did not think he would make it for 3 minutes after I took his trains or cars out of his room. I was sure he would cave.
So - in hind site - I've learned - be careful what you threaten b/c we all know from Dr Phil and Oprah that if you SAY you are going to do something, you HAVE to follow through with it.
So - my son was sent to his room because his sister earned a movie that he was now not allowed to watch. He started playing in his room - happily.
Meanwhile 30 min after that, I began to remove things from his room. All the while steaming mad, grumbling to myself....begging him to make the call...praying to God that I was not going to have to empty the room because then I would have to clean it all up!
(for those tallying - we are now at about 3-4 hours now, not including the 2 hours the night before and it is about 11 am. Oh yeah, and for the record - I am already exhausted due to daughter having strep throat all weekend and me fighting a tummy virus. In a nutshell - I am NOT HAPPY!)
About an hour later -- --my son comes out and hands me a couple of toys.
Son - "Mommy, you can take this one."
At this very moment I lost it. Mommy left my body and the Grinch took over.
"That's it. Forget every 30 minutes. You lose everything until you can apologize for your behavior and thank mimi and papa!"
I began taking EVERYTHING out of his room. Toys, 200 books, Christmas decorations, broken crayons, stuffed animals, even dust bunnies were tumbling for cover. Side note: Not to mention I realized how dirty his room really was - even though a cleaner comes in every other week. Its amazing what you will find when you clear a room.
I dont even think I left a light bulb. I was the Grinch who stole EVERYTHING. I literally was chunking stuff over my shoulder into the hall repeatedly saying"I cant believe you're making me do this." Tears fell and yelling commenced. It had been 4 hours at this point and I wanted this to end so I could put my sick kid and the Devil in front of the TV so I could rest my tummy.
The hall way was now impassable. So I fall over everything to get into kitchen and try to calm down.
Grinch (face red instead of green) : "Don't come out until you are ready to be polite and grateful for your things! I will slip your food under the door. I will break you!!!!"
Now maybe this sounds harsh to you. And for the record - I have never claimed to be mother of the year. But besides the fact that I forced a kid to stay in his room with nothing - just because he didn't thank someone or was rude isn't the real problem. Because believe me - at this point I am wishing I could take it all back and sing Kum Bah Yah with my kids holding my hands.
The real problem? I said this is what I was going to do so now I am backed into a corner. I either follow through or lose control of kid forever and he becomes total psycho and doesn't respect authority when he gets older. probably in jail. Yes that might be extreme but that is where my head was in the moment. Definitely in a state of insanity.
It was not about "Thank you's" anymore. It was now a "battle of the wills". This was setting a precedent for other issues to come.
Hubby says while sitting in lush office at work 30 miles away. "I don't care what happens, don't cave. His entire life is riding all on your shoulders. Stay strong. I gotta go take some clients out to fancy lunch. Have a nice day.
Grinch - "Eat some lobster for me."
Daughter said: "What is wrong with Gray? I've never seen him do this. He's crazy. I'd never take it this far. Especially with my toys."
So - where were we. Oh yes. 3.5 year old sitting in a room with four walls, a flat pillow, a bean bag, and a few scared dust bunnies.
How long do you think he lasted with NOTHING?
Do you know he sat in that room for...4 more hours...
yes a 3.5 year old held out against his mom with NOTHING (not even a bathroom or bread and water) for a total of 7.5 hours!
I've never seen my son take anything even close to this far. For 4 more hours this kid came out 1,000 times, tried to sneak toys back in his room, threw a car at me. It was insane. It was exhausting. I was baffled.
I was like a lion trapped in a cage, pacing back and forth in front of hall door, staring at my clock mumbling (and probably drooling with insanity), "I cant believe this. What am I going to do" over and over and over. For 4 more hours.
At 3 pm (this started at 6:30 am) , I slumped into a chair and sent in reinforcements - yes - my 7 year old daughter. She wanted it to stop as much as me.
Daughter - mom can i go talk to him?
Grinch - "Sure honey. See if you can stop this insanity."
Daughter goes to see incarcerated son - "Gray, mommy is sad. Mimi and papa ae sad. Yo need to stop this craziness. It's gone too far. Please please, say you are sorry and think you so you can come out and play with me."
15 min later - he comes out and yells with a big smile on his face (as if he's ready for a baseball game or a trip to get ice cream.) "Mommy, I'm ready." This is after me sitting and talking, begging, yelling, taking things away. His sister begs him to stop so she can play with him and he does just that.
He called both my parents - apologized and thanked them for the gift. And his day went on as if nothing had ever happened. me? Nervous breakdown and emotional eating.
So what did I learn from this?
1) My will power sucks - After watching a 3.5 year old hold out 7.5 hours - I realize that I can't even go a day without chocolate. Not to mention, I was just about to crack when he did.
2) Once again - my mothering capabilities. Do you know i scoured all my child raising books during this 7.5 hours and could find nothing of help? Who do you turn to?
3) I am convinced my son was a monk or a hobo in a past live - someone who fasted without food for days and could stare at blank walls for 7.5 hours without going insane.
4) my son looooooves his sister.
5) my son has made all Tauruses proud.
6) I am in trouble when he is a teen. let's hope my daughter's will power is much weaker.
7) Never EVER EVER say you are going to do something unless you think through the consequences. Unless you can truly back it up WITHOUT going insane. You never know how far your kids are prepared to go.
It might just be further than you think.
Tell me - have your kids held out for a long time like this to stand their ground? Have you taken everything to prove a point? Please tell me I am not the only one.