Monday, September 22, 2008

What is good for the Goose sucks for the Ganders

I started out the day with noble ambitions. I wanted to 'go with the flow'. Let my kids be kids, let them do the things they wanted to do, and say "yes" as often as possible.

I did pretty well for the morning. I had to bite my tongue so many times that it is probably a bloody stump by now, but I did it. I gritted my teeth from letting out the automatic 'no', and said 'yes' to almost everything.

I let them eat applesauce that I normally reserve for outings, have hot dog buns for a snack, watch 3 TV shows instead of one, gave Jack 5 glasses of milk, let them pull all the cushions off the couch, drink water from a (glass) mug instead of a sippy cup, watch youtube videos, allowed them to wear strange, mis-matched clothes when we went out, and bring bags stuffed with toys into the car when we went out.

Frankly, it drove me crazy. And by crazy, I mean I was having a psychotic episode by the end of the day. I think my eyes started having convulsions. By the afternoon I was a mess, and pretty much said 'no' to everything except sitting in their rooms crying.

But I learned a few things. First, it is good to say 'yes', but bad to make myself insane. I must learn to find the balance.

Second, this is a good method for Abigail, but a bad method for Jack and Aidan. Abigail, when told 'no', will fight it with all she has. She goes a little nuts, and has to push and push and push until she figures out where the line is, and what my breaking point is. She never can accept the 'because' reason for me telling her no. But if I say 'yes' enough, she can calm down. She doesn't have to fight and push so much. It calms her, and she stops asking for things, stops fighting everything, and just relaxes and lets things work. And then when I did have to tell her no, and she started up with the pushing, I just said 'Abigail, I have let you have everything your way. This is a no', and she just accepted it and moved on. It was beautiful.

But Jack and Aidan, not so much. Once I started saying 'yes', they couldn't control it. They had to just keep asking for more, more, more until I just couldn't take it anymore. No self regulation, no limits. I don't know if it is age, or just personality, but this method, at least at this time, is not a good way for them.

So now I just have to figure out how to say 'yes' to one and 'no' to the others. I know that no one ever said parenting was easy, but sheesh. :)


Astarte said...

I remember when Josie was little I used to really think about why I was saying no, and evaluate whether I was just being lazy or whether it was really justified. Then, my no-er must have grown a callus, or something, because now 'no' rolls off my tongue like a marble! 'no, No, NO, NONONO!' I do try, though, to make sure that I can find an option that I can say 'yes' to, or think of a way that the 'no' can be a 'no-for-now', like when Patrick wants to play a video game with me, I'll say 'yes, I want to play with you, too! and I will be able to play with you at such and such a time. Would you like to get started and I'll be there when I can?' It's easier for me, though, because both of mine are now at an age of general reason.

Rhonda said...

I love all your raising kids posts. I often think I sound like a drill sargent all day. But if I don't, they will walk all over me. I try to say yes but NO definately comes out more. That would be an interesting experiment...but like you, I think I'd be crazy by the end of the day. Daniel definately couldn't handle it and Julia sounds a lot like Abigail. This parenting thing is way way harder than I ever imagined.

Rebecca said...

OH goodness are Mark and Abigail the same kid? You just described him perfectly. Great job saying yes!

TheVillamorFamily said...

it comes easier! especially when they are older and can handle the consequences....then they see that Mom was right!! preschool boys use to think my yard was the bathroom too! ha!

Colleen said...

Sounds like you had too much of a good thing. The problem with saying yes all the time is that there are always limits. Either ones you set yourself or the ones that society and nature set for you. You can say you want to drive your car as fast as you want, but the car is limited how fast it can go and you are limited by law as to how fast you can go. If you choose to ignore those limits, then you have to suffer the consequences of your choice. Your job as a mother is to teach your kids about limits until they can govern themselves. Yes, your teaching methods have to be different for each child, but you are doing a great job of teaching your children and someday, you will feel great joy because they are responsible people, just like the joy I feel when I read about your adventures as a mother!