Thursday, March 14, 2013

Testing, Limits and Boundaries

Sounds like a road test for a car. But I am actually talking about parenting a 4 year old. My son is bound and determined to test my limits and his boundaries from the minute he wakes up until he goes to bed. I am not unrealistic. I want respect and listening. But this little guy is determined attempt to challenge, argue, negotiate and debate anything and everything. To say that I am stubborn is an understatement. I will NOT negotiate with a 4 year old. He is slowly realizing what little power he has in this house and he is attempting to claim more daily. And he is failing. But, as each new day starts, so does his fresh new resolve to see how many ways he can test me. His first order of business is to put on clean underwear. Each and every pair must be picked up, examined, considered then discarded. Then the Herculean task of choosing breakfast. I am not running a Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet. I give him 2 choices. Without fail, he tries to choose option C, not on the menu and over my dead body. He will eat but must be reminded multiple times to face forward so he does not fall out of his chair. When he does fall, this is suddenly MY fault somehow. Not receiving any first aid or sympathy, he climbs back up and eats his food. Slowly. I could feed a barracks full of soldiers 3 hot meals in the time he takes to eat one cup of yogurt. Ironically, he clears the table and cleans himself up with no fussing or reminding. Getting dressed is my next unreasonable demand. I am greeted with a "not yet". He is given the choice of getting his clothes on or sitting in a time-out in his underwear. Sighing heavily, he is dressed. This is a slightly speedier endeavor. Hair and teeth are brushed without complaint. I don't know why or care. I take the gift and race upstairs to dress myself. Putting on 1 coat and 2 shoes takes my son longer than Scarlett O'Hara took to primp for a party. Off he goes to school, where I am told he is an angel and a delight. Lunch is consumed with the same lack of speed. Nap time approaches. I did not know it was possible to climb stairs THAT slowly. Sometimes, he even ends up going back down! Faced (daily) with the loss of books before nap, he shows some hustle. I have read all the parenting books. I don't negotiate. I don't cave. I give a few choices to give him the illusion of power. I explain the events that will occur and how I expect them to occur. When he fails to follow the simple, basic and reasonable requests made of him, the consequences are explained. When he is faced with the consequences, he has the audacity to look shocked. Then he tries to plead and bargain. "Give me one more chance" falls on deaf ears. People assure me that this is a natural part of development and he will grow out of it. I hope for both our sakes that he outgrows it soon. This kid needs to learn that I am older, tougher and already survived this with his older sister. He doesn't stand a chance.

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