How’d I get such stubborn kids?
First of all, this is a rhetorical question, so those of you who know me you can just hush right now.
The majority of our children are stubborn. I mean, way beyond typical stubborn. I don’t want to say your kids aren’t stubborn but ours put most to shame. I remember an anonymous dear friend, almost 17 years ago with her 2 year old by her side tell me, before I had kids, “just remember, you can outlast them at everything. So stick with it. You can outlast them wanting to be pushed on a swing or a temper tantrum.” Celeste, you know who you are!
So there I go into motherhood a few years later totally with my stubborn guard down…um, nope, turns out I CANNOT outlast my particular breed of children! I CAN admit when I’m out stubborned, though, and our kids are stubborn.
I’m pretty good at outlasting temper tantrums, although the reason for this isn’t because they aren’t magnificently spectacular to witness. Or that I give in. They just do it all the time. And boy can they last forever, and not giving in doesn’t affect anything. I don’t think it limits their occurrences like the books promise (Just let little Jimmy scream for candy and don’t give in! He’ll learn next time! Well, they don’t get candy, but I don’t know who the real winner is most of the time because I’m the one who has to listen to it.)
But I’m talking about other forms of orneriness. To be fair, we have varying degrees of stubborn. #1 can be stubborn across the board. He’s always a challenge, whether it’s getting him to go to an activity or asking him to clean up after himself. #2 and #3 are probably the normal amount of stubborn. Their stubbornness is usually overtaken with their unwillingness to be in trouble. #4 is a laid back child who is quiet and just goes with the flow…until he decides not to. Then his stubbornness knows no bounds! He transforms into the most stubborn child on the planet. #5 likes to present as stubborn very vocally, but you can usually call his bluff.
Here are some examples:
When #1 was four, he was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, or we think he had it but he refused to participate in any of the tests to discern that, automatically qualifying him for the diagnosis. His examples are almost unfair, but I remember him having to go to play therapy to learn to handle his sensory issues better and refusing to talk to the therapist for the first 8 months. We finally got the idea to send his 2 year old brother back with him one day, and he immediately started talking nonstop.
I don’t always use Love and Logic but I try to when there’s a slam dunk natural consequence such as frost bite, and a supposedly easy one that I try every time is letting them pick their clothing choices whether it’s freezing or not. The way it’s supposed to go is that they go to school one day without a coat and get super cold and don’t do it again. Hahahahahaha! Let me just stop laughing first. This is one of the many times it turned out for me: I get a call from the school one day asking me gently if the school can buy our children coats. I’m mortified, and have to try that delicate balance of sounding grateful while explaining that their $80 jackets are hanging up in the closet.
This morning our 5 year old begged me to let him wear shorts to school. (It was 35) He’s getting a tad better, after 2 months of negotiations will at least hear me out when I believe it’s too cold. Granted, our ideas of “too cold” differ greatly, mine being around 70 and his being around 34. But occasionally I can impress upon him that it’s just too cold. It helps when I can point out the window to snow on the ground but not always. This morning I convinced him to wear pants, which he wore with a nice tank top. He insisted we bike to school and Thank God just as we were leaving it started snowing so I was able to convince him to at least wear a jacket over the tank top. I suggested that he might want to bring his gloves but he declined. Sure enough, he could barely make it to school he was so cold. According to the books this would be a perfect lesson, but I know it’s not because we’ve already had this lesson several times this year. His solution was that I should have brought his gloves and that I could drive to pick him up. I’m not sure who his regular mom is… (Update just now: I picked him up from school-via bike- and suggested he wear his sweatshirt home in the 80 MPH winds that were about 40 degrees…nah.)
One time #1, who was 2 at the time, purposely hurt his dog. I made the mistake of throwing down the gauntlet of forcing him to say he has sorry to the dog and of course he refused. So I made him sit in a time out until he did. 8 hours later…
When #4 was 3, he was in to the habit of not saying please. Easy peasy, right? Child does not receive X until he says please. He went on a 24 hr hunger strike. We conceded when he finally at least said, “I can’t say please.” Gotcha, you said it! I’m not sure who the real winner was.
#5 can throw a lasting 40 minute temper tantrum if the wrong mom gets him out the car seat or we dare make him finish breakfast before we give him a sip of latte. He’s also refused to wear anything but “cowboy clothes” going on 14 months now…jeans and long button up shirts when it’s 95 degrees out.
The point is, our kids far exceed the “experts” on length of time they are willing to out stubborn us. My first experience with this was mostly heartbreaking, but I should’ve gotten the hint. When #1 was 9 months, I got lured into the illusion that kids should sleep through the night, and letting them cry it out was like ripping off a bandaid. The book assured me that the longest a child could last was 2 hrs, and if you went in before that, he would just be trained to cry that long each night. At 4 hrs, I was searching the interwebs for the author’s home number, hoping I could wake HIM up at 2am, after realizing the book had no appendix for “In case your child exceeds 2 hours…”.
I’m blogging about it to remind myself that one day it will all be quite humorous. My fingers are crossed that this tenacity will work in their favor someday, if we can all survive it.