Consequences, baby.

I totally love Rory now–no hesitation–which makes it ok for me to say this: sometimes I like being mean to her.

In a totally virtuous way, of course. I just reviewed the dvd of Olivia for DoubleX, and in one episode, Olivia refuses to wear her soccer shirt–she doesn’t like dressing like everyone else-and she’s rewarded, in the end, by getting to play goalie and saving the game, and I just wanted to slap that pig upside the ears. Sometimes you have to play by the rules. Sometimes you have to do exactly what you’re told.
Doing exactly what she’s told isn’t really Rory’s special gift. What Rory likes to do is make up some alternative version of your instructions, which allows her to remain in control while still, in her eyes, fulfilling your wishes. Tell her she can’t eat a popsicle in the living room and she needs to go to the table, and she’ll go sit at the bar. Your goal, her decision. It makes me wince, to be honest, but in that case, I can live with it.
But today, as the light turned green to allow us to cross Hanover’s busiest intersection (so not much, but a speeding car is a speeding car and it only takes one), I took Lily’s hand, Lily took Wyatt’s hand and I instructed Rory to take Wyatt’s other hand as we stepped into the street.

She didn’t want to. She dithered. She ran around us. I no hold Wyatt’s hand. I hold your hand. I didn’t have a hand, I had Lily and a basket. I hold Lily’s hand! She yanks Wyatt away from Lily. Mind, we’re standing in the street, the light is counting down and a car turning right could take us all out in an instant. I throw the basket back at the sidewalk and shove them all back up out of the street. If you won’t hold Wyatt’s hand, we’ll have to go home, I say, then back off–oops, can’t do that, this is dinner–ok, then, but only BIG KIDS can hold hands while we cross the street. And now we have to wait for a whole nother light, and it’s all because Rory wouldn’t listen.

I pick her up.. I make a big deal. Look at Wyatt and Lily, holding hands. They’re such BIG KIDS. I thought I had three BIG KIDS who could hold hands, but I have two BIG KIDS and one BABY.

It’s sick how much I’m enjoying myself, really. Rory is crying–although she’s still saying she’ll hold my hand, or Lily’s hand. (Who held whose hand was just about where we were standing, btw, and getting across quickly.) She’s not crying hard, but she’s not happy.

And at every street corner, for the rest of the expedition, I pick her up and remind her that this is because she’s a BABY, and Lily and Wyatt are BIG KIDS WHO LISTEN.

Honestly, I enjoy this because it works. She doesn’t want to be a baby, and I’m sorry–there are times when you need to do exactly what I say, and quickly, and crossing the street is one of them. If I told her to run to the sidewalk because a car was coming, and she decided to run, instead, to the sidewalk on the other side of the street, she could end up dead.

So I know this is not very zen. I know it’s not in keeping with the book “Beyond Logic and Consequences” described in an Adoptive Families recently. The author of that book would prefer me to stay calm, and be open to understanding where Rory is coming from. I say, I was calm–and I do know where she’s coming from. She wants to make every choice, because so many choices have been made for her. Got it. But sometimes, in life, you don’t get to make the choice, and there isn’t time to talk you through it. Sometimes you need to grab the hand of the nearest person and run across the street before the light changes. Sometimes you have to do what I actually told you to do.

It truly is my job to teach her that, just as it was my parents job to teach me–and I didn’t like it, either. I think that’s why I secretly enjoy these little teaching moments. I don’t always want to do what I’m told either, kid. But sometimes you do it anyway.

And sometimes you have to wear the green soccer shirt, Olivia and Olivia scriptwriters! Geez!

I am trying to be more zen and open in all things, and to let much of what Rory does–and Wyatt, and sometimes Lily, for that matter–come into me as though I were water and flow out without leaving a mark. But allow me my little tiny pleaures, won’t you?

7 Responses to “Consequences, baby.”

  1. G. Silva says:

    Zen’s not so wonderful after she’s been hit by a car.

    Teaching small children to be respectfully afraid of traffic seems really hard. I’ve given it the occasional try on my nephews, to no effect. They still have no concept of speeding cars equaling danger. If your method is successful, you may be the one I emulate. Well, without the older kids to hold up as examples.

  2. Ninotchka says:

    You are so wise. I love your parenting style. When are you coming back to Tx, girl? We need to get together!

  3. Jenny says:

    My girl does that “your goal, my decision” thing all the time. And it does drive me nuts, which sometimes seems like the effect she’s going for.

    I’m of two minds about whether to react to it, but I guess as long as the carpet stays clean, it’s best to just let it go.

  4. I would have done the same thing in that instance. I think a lot of the stuff in “the books” is way over the top sometimes. You are right and that sometimes it just needs to be a firm, “no”.

    I will say though that our daughter actually never disobeys or rebels. She is frightengly compliant. We know that one day that will end. Yikes.

  5. JK says:

    I don’t think one can always be Zen. Life is too short. Sometimes it takes certain “measures” to make things happen more quickly. 🙂

  6. Kelly Morant says:

    Hi, I read your blog regularly and just wanted to say that I think you are absolutely right in what you did. All too often I see parents who do things for an easy life.. which is what the my goal your decision thing is… but an easy life soon becomes a hard life when they don’t learn the right “life lessons” early on. In this case, that sometimes you just have to do what you are told. Even as adults we have to do what told at work. It’s an important lesson to learn and in many cases when young, life saving.

    I don’t know the book you are referring to about adoptive parenting but this is my thought. Yes it may be hard for her to adapt and she needs some allowances for that, but she also needs to be treated the same as your other children for all their sakes.

    Keep up the good work!!!

    Kelly in not so sunny London!!!

  7. ellen says:

    I didn’t see that article in Adoptive Families but I am struggling right now between what you’re supposed to do for “attachment” versus setting limits for a toddler. I think a lot of the adoption advice on these issues assumes you have an infant under 12 months of age. A toddler is still a toddler, whether adopted or not, and they’re going to test the limits and need to learn who’s the boss in important situations. But all that reading about attachment does a guilt trip on me when I’m trying to do some discipline….

    So I don’t really enjoy the teaching moments so much as force myself to do something I don’t enjoy, either. End result: we’re both unhappy. Luckily, her displeasure lasts only about 90 seconds while mine keeps me up at night worrying that she won’t attach to me if I keep enforcing rules!