To add to my “if I turn scientist” list of studies: Effect of offspring leg length on maternal response. I just randomly noticed that there is a particular age or size of child that completely changes my reaction to having toes in my face. Babies start off so small and squishy and I want to roll them into a little ball in my arms and chew on them. Their little legs are so stubby and their feet, so chubby, and so nibble-y and kissable. Then one day, somewhere between Elijah-size and Isaac-size, I get a foot in my face, and my gut reaction glowers get that clunky hoof off of me! They haven’t yet stopped being precious, but suddenly they’re more adorable from a distance.
It’s about nap time again, and our nap dynamics have once again evolved. Now, when I announce it’s time to get in bed, and go scouting for Isaac in all the good hiding places, I frequently find him already in bed. Ian, who had been cooperative for so long, is now into hardcore bargaining and stalling. He got out of bed the other day, 10 minutes into his “nap”, to inform me that he was feeling “doostracted”. I inquired as to the source of his trouble and he said it was Isaac. I suggested he go upstairs to “Grandma’s bed” (the guest room), but he said that would be “doostracting” too. He said, “I’m doostracted because the covers are green and white.” At other times, he needs to change his clothes, or get a drink or “tell [me] something.” Today, he first needs to exercise. At a gym. I remember my brother being quite a politician at his age.
Perhaps I shouldn’t admit to this particular instance of parenting with natural consequences, because after two weeks of stomach bugs, this seems particularly gross. I’ve tried every way I can think of, short of not giving the boys drinks at meal time, or giving them drinks in sippy cups with tight valves, to stop them from playing chem-lab while they eat. One or both older boys are frequently trying to pour their drinks into their food or vice versa. Today, they squirted apple juice out of their juice boxes into their mini wheats. I’ve tried juice on cereal a number of times, and it’s typically not bad, but this one looked particularly wretched. They started asking for waffles, but I told them they don’t get anything else until they’ve eaten their cereal. I explained again about wasting food and drink, and (somebody kick me) actually pulled the starving children in the world card. They decided to go play. When they started hounding me for lunch, I said, O.K. boys, your cereal is on the table. I can tell they forgot, because they cheered and climbed up in their seats. They quickly scrunched their faces in rejection of the yellow chunky soup.
I heated up some chicken and cheesy rice and broccoli and reminded them of their obligation. Ian slurped down his “juice” without much hesitation. Isaac refused for a while, but I reminded him, “one drink and you get your chicken,” so he finally did it. I’m not sure if I agree with my own choice of method. I want them to experience natural consequences when possible, and I want them to be more sure than severe, but I don’t want to cross the line into bullying, either. Sometimes natural consequences are hard to find. Isaac has remarkable persistence in a standoff, and I don’t like when it turns to a battle of wills, because I don’t want to break his. Who’s idea was it to make parenting so complicated?