Lily’s Turn to Learn that it Really Happens

Lily’s day has come, and she’s taking it better than I would have expected.

Here’s the background: Once upon a time, when Sam wasbut a wee lad of three and in nursery school, he failed to put his boots and coat on, or to sit in his cubby and put his boots and coat on, or some dreadful transgression of that nature. Sam, I declared sternly, if you don’t go do whatever it is I want you to do right now, then we are not going ice skating with Joey.

Sam ran off to play with a fire engine.

You know you can’t go now, don’t you? whispered Karen, his teacher, in my ear.

How I hated her. I wanted to go ice skating on the pond. Laura, Joey’s mother, wanted us to go ice skating on the pond. Joey wanted us to go ice skating ice skating on the pond. Ice skating would be a fun way to spend the grey afternoon. Punishing Sam would not.

But damn her, she was right.

To make a long story short, Sam didn’t really believe he wasn’t going ice skating until we pulled into our driveway, but once he did, he really let go. The first part of the afternoon, at least, certainly fit into the category “things that are not fun.” Once it was past, I figured, well, that was the punishment, and it’s over. I didn’t do anything special–it’s not like I was going to reward him–but we just had a normal afternoon.

And for the most part, he got it. I made a point of not making idle threats, and he nearly almost always, did what he was told, and eventually he grew out of the need for me to describe the consequences.

I tell that story a lot, but it really did change the way we parent. Suddenly we all got it–Rob too, because I called him during the sobbing for support. We got that if we said something was going to happpen, it had to happen, and Sam got that if we said something would happen, it would. Ah, the concept of consequences.

But everybody has to learn about consequences themselves. Having your brother tell you, Wait, Lily, she really meansit was not enough to save Lilybelle from her transgressions. Like Sam’s, it was mild, in and of itself. But it was repeated. For days, ever since the newness of the booster seat privilege wore off, she’s been funky about getting into her car seat. She refuses, if she’s tired, or we’re not going where she wants to go. She won’t buckle. She hides in the back of the car where I can’t reach her. I’ve waited her out, until today, when I just got tired of it. Get in your seat, before I have to ask you again, or you’re not going to McDonald’s.

She didn’t. I started the car. Sam started to wail. Where are we going? Home. All of us? Yes, unless I can find Daddy to take you and Wy.

Much wailing. To cut that part of the story short, I did find Daddy, and Sam and Wy chose pizza instead (probably to avoid the half hour drive back to McDonald’s). And Lily wailed. And gulped, and wailed, and told me that she didn’t like anything, not anything, and would throw her dinner on the floor and take her legs out of her seatbelt and…

Then you’ll go straight to your room when we get home.

It speaks to lots of things, I think, that she was able to hold it together well enough not to throw herself out of the seat, or undo that belt, or do anything other than list the things she didn’t like anymore–her lunch box, her bed, Wyatt’s bed, her carseat, yadda. ALl of which I took to mean she didn’t like me much right then, but I left it alone.

By the time we got home she ate grits, went out tof her way to be charming and asked if she oucl clean her car seat “So I can get in it faster next time”. I reminded her that that wasn’t the problem. I was cranky, she said. You didn’t listen to me and you got punished, I said.

“Also I was cranky.” At least we both recovered. This should provide grist for the mill for weeks.

One Response to “Lily’s Turn to Learn that it Really Happens”

  1. Karrine says:

    Love this post! If you stand firm on your decisions kids really do start to take everything you say seriously and will learn to do things you ask of them the first time you ask.
    As i am currently working as a nanny i am having a few issues with this idea as the parents are reluctant to put their foot down about anything and when they do the kids get confussed!
    I am even confussed.
    Need to work it out but anyway great post.