Never weaken, never compromise!
Challenging though it is, sometimes you just have to hold out. And keep holding out. And keep...well, you get the message.
This story actually has nothing to do with adoption. It's to do with being a parent and handling a three year old. Actually, dealing with a 'threenager'. Our three year old who, currently, is pushing boundaries like mad.
With any toddler, remaining firm in the face of their attempts to take control of your household. In fact take control of your life. Is essential.
I've talked about our children's past often. It would be very easy to cave in to their demands. Just thinking about the challenges they have faced instigates an instinctive reaction in me wanting to relax the boundaries within which we allow them to operate.
What I am saying, I guess, is ignore the past. Ignore that they are adopted. Ignore the transferral of guilt you feel.
Remain resolute in refusing your adopted toddler's attempt at domination.
Yesterday morning we were tested by our three year old daughter.
We had a sptting incident. It wasn't a huge one. Unhappy at being told not to move Daddy's mouse connected to his laptop, our daughter spat on the back of my hand.
I have to tell you that I originally wrote 'our hand' at the end of that sentence. Then I realised I wasn't the Queen and changed it.
Now, I abhor spitting. For me it's beyond the pale. So, when our daughter spat on my hand I was really very shocked. We needed some time on the 'thinking stair.' So thence she was relocated, much to her dissatisfaction. In fact, so dissatisfied was she with her captive status that she began to protest loudly.
Our daughter's capacity for wailing is considerable, indeed, it seems to increase daily.
Unable to make use of our red and yellow card system, we generally leave her on the thinking step for a short period and then have a chat to make sure she understands what she has done wrong, obtain an apology for the appropriate person and after a hug we can then move on.
J therefore dutifully began the process. Except, yesterday morning, he couldn't make himself heard over the wailing. We therefore left our little girl on the stairs for a bit longer.
J tried a second time. This time she lowered the volume sufficiently to allow a conversation of sorts to take place.
"Spitting is nasty and bad," J explained. "You mustn't do it again."
"I DIDN"T SPIT!" Wailed our daughter.
"Yes you did," J said, calmly.
"NO I DIDN"T!" Our daughter screamed back.
J decided he wasn't going to get anywhere for a while so returned to the breakfast table.
This act elicited a bout of wailing even louder than before. We therefore pulled the kitchen door up a little. The stairs are just across the hall from our kitchen. At their foot we keep our shoe racks.
We began to talk with our son again over breakfast.
BANG! Something solid hit the door. BANG! The another. BANG! And another.
Shoes were being thrown at the kitchen door.
J went back out to the stairs. "What are you doing?" He asked our now quieter, yet stonily defiant, daughter.
"Trying to open door with shoes," she said.
"Is spitting good or bad?" J asked.
"Bad!" She replied.
"Go and say sorry then," J instructed.
Our daughter came into the kitchen. Walked three steps, threw herself to the ground melodramatically and began to scream again. "Not saying sorry," she sobbed. J took her back to the stairs, returned, pulled the door up to block the worst of the screaming and sat down.
BANG! We were back to shoe throwing.
The cycle of stairs, chat, return to kitchen, melodramatic fall, screams, refusal to apologise, return to stairs, throw shoes at kitchen door continued. In fact, we went through eleven more rounds before we finally reached the end.
"Sorry for spitting," our daughter finally admitted, begrudgingly,
A friend who was following these events on twitter gave me the title for this post. 'Never weaken, never compromise' is a variation on an old Irish political theme.
It's an adage that succinctly sums up much of our experience of disciplining our children. Once boundaries are set letting them slip never ends well.
It's also our daughter's guiding principle too.
Luckily, yesterday, she blinked first.