Yeah. Me, too.
But every once in awhile, I end the day feeling as though - for a brief, shining moment - I know what I'm doing. Or that I'm really, really good at making it seem that way....
Here's a snippet of an hour-long POST-bed/lights-out conversation with Matthew, age 6:
Matthew: Mummy, did you know that some kids' parents give them treats when they're good?
Me: Is that so?
Matthew: Yes, it's true. Some parents give their kids toys when they're good at the grocery store, or just for being good without being told to.
Me: Wow. Those kids are lucky, eh?
Matthew: Yeah. Really lucky.
Me: Do you know those children personally or did you see them on TV?
Matthew: I can't remember their names, but I saw them one day.
Me: Oh, yeah? Where?
Matthew: At the grocery store. In their car. After they were done shopping and were sitting in their carseats, I saw their mummy give them treats.
Me: Huh. 'magine that. What was I doing, while this other mummy was giving her kids treats?
Matthew: Being mad because me and Luke didn't listen in the store and Luke ran away and I was sassy.
Me: Ah. I see.
|Matthew at his devilish best. He's so cute, I'd forgive him anything.|
*Brief pause for me to reign it in, having used up all my calm, measured tones on the above exchange*
Matthew: I think that other mummy must have been really proud of her kids, right Mummy?
Me: I'll bet she was. But, I'll bet she wasn't as proud of her kids as I am of you, right now.
Me: I am so proud of you, Matthew, for communicating your ideas and opinions to me so clearly. I love you very much. But I need you to know something else, too. It's very important. Are you listening?
Matthew: Uh huh!
Me: (in a tight, sweetness-laced-with-venom voice) The difference between me and that other mummy? I expect you to be good because it's the right thing to do, not because there might be a treat at the end of things.
That's not how it works in this family.(getting louudderr) IF I want to give you a treat because I can, then you'll get one. But you will not EVER get a treat for doing as you're told, when you're told. (soft, deadly whisper) Is. that. clear?
Matthew: (dramatic, long-suffering sigh.) Yesssuh.
*Another pause for me to press my fingertips into my eye sockets, sending telepathic, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm soooo effing sorry!" messages to my mother.*
Matthew: Are you really proud of me for telling you all this stuff, Mummy?
*I freeze. Did he not just notice the yelling portion of this conversation? Could it be that he actually heard and picked out the one nice, Good-Mummy thing I really want him to hear, know, feel? Wow. I am rockin' this mummy-gig today. And here I thought I'd failed utterly. Pfffhhtt...*
Me: I am. I am very proud of you. You're a great communicator.
Matthew: Do you think you're proud enough that we can have ice cream for breakfast tomorrow?
Me: Uh, no.
Matthew: (giggling) It was worth a try, right?
That is was, my son. It was certainly worth a try.
Been outsmarted, outwitted, outmaneuvered and/or outfoxed by your kids lately?
Tell me all about it.