"Ok, you're clear to go," I said to my sister as she started backing out of her driveway in her SUV. Children accounted for. Until he wasn't. Instead of holding my hand like I asked, Landon insisted he wanted to see Daddy and pulled away and into the path of the moving vehicle.
Yelling ensued. Enough adrenaline to satisfy even the most hard-core adrenaline junkie shot through me. And my extreme fear morphed instantly (as it usually does) to anger when the danger was past and Landon was safe.
At that moment I was sick and tired of having a kid I cannot count on to obey. (Do those kind exist somewhere that I don't know about?)
In a calmer moment Bill and I talked with Landon about what happened and emphasized the need for him to trust that when we ask for something, we have his best interests in mind. I don't think I micromanage him. So mister, if I'm making demands, it isn't because my ego won't let you walk out of the house with your shirt on backwards. I'm picking my battles, buddy, and they are ones I demand to win. Running around moving vehicles: that's a no. Wearing long sleeves and pants in hot summer weather? Well, if you must. Sweat it out, I guess.
Landon's response to our conversation?
"The answer is stuck in my brain mom, and I can't get it out."
The question was the super-complicated, "What are you going to do the next time we ask you to do something?"
Hmph. Are we getting through to this guy at all?
Fast forward to tonight. Landon and his cousins were given goody bags of noisemakers and other kid kitsch. Kids love it. Easily overstimulated moms like me wonder if the giver hates us. Noise issues aside, Landon bagged all his up when he was done playing with it. I told him to keep it in our diaper bag or it would get thrown away since it didn't look like anything special and everyone was cleaning up.
I turn around, and his plastic bag and toys are strewn all over the counter. My swoop instinct takes over and it all goes in the garbage. (confession: a teeeeny part of me was happy to be justified to throw that kind of chaos away)
As we were leaving Landon asked, "Where are my toys?"
"They should be in the diaper bag, where I asked you to leave them," I tell him innocently. (My poor nephew beheld the swift swoop moment and is a little puzzled)
But they are not. And Landon knows they are not because he didn't leave them there. I didn't gather them. I didn't retrieve them. He knows I am not taking responsibility for them.
When we get home I tell Bill what happened. I am happy. Now here's a lesson that I think is really going to hit home for my little boy. I am willing to sacrifice one bag of plastic trinkets if it means Landon will be more likely to obey next time. Because next time might be like last time: a situation with high stakes.
I am fed up with negotiating. I am done wheeling and dealing. And I think we sometimes couch being softies in the phrase, "showing you mercy" to justify being pushovers.
Request. Disobedience. Logical consequence. Textbook scenario. This should work.
Bill gets a funny look on his face. "Umm, Jodi? Cam (Landon's cousin with a heart of gold) showed me the garbage and told me that Landon's toys had gotten thrown away so I fished them out for him and we took them home with us in the green car."
Ahaahah! Foiled again!
Good thing I have a new set of plastic hand clappers I can use to shake out my frustration.