I'm trying to get my kid out the door, attempting to use those skills I've honed over years.
1. Give them plenty of notice.2. Tell them what's expected.3. Stay on track. Futzing on FaceBook is not allowed.4. Stay patient.5. Think of the younger generation and how you are ushering them into the world.
Frankly, none of it's working. I've gone through 10 minute warnings. Five minute warnings. Three minute warnings. And his shoes aren't on. They're upstairs. With his socks. My patience is low. We have an Errand to run. And that's when I issue a Threat.
"If your shoes aren't on in five minutes, I'm going to leave you here with Dada." That seems to goad him into action. Somehow he does manage to find his shoes and socks. He's back downstairs faster than I can say, "Pokemon Snorlax." But then something happens. This normally agile child starts to cave under pressure. His socks seem to get stuck between his toes, and he's not able to pull them up, and then he bursts into tears.
"It's okay," I tell him. "I want you to come with me." He sobs harder.
"But you said you're going to leave without me."
"But I don't want to leave without you."
"And then," he continues, "you're not going to buy anything for my party. And then we're not going to have my party." He sobs louder. I get down on the ground and put my arms around here.
"Let me help you," I say. I can feel my own insides start to quiver. "I want you to come with me," I reiterate. "Of course we're going to have your party. I just want you to put your shoes and socks on."
He pushes back. He insists he won't have a party. All I can do is listen, tell him I hear him.
"I got so frustrated," I say. "That's why I made the threat. I just wanted you to stop being silly. I was full to the max on that. I needed you to stop."
He has quieted down.
"Was it too much?" I ask.
He nods. And slowly it dawns on me. My maxing out and the ensuing threat are totally disproportionate to where he was at. My sweet and tender boy felt railroaded by my threat. It was no idle threat (he knew that), but it was a non-calibrated threat, designed to make me feel better, not work together with him.
"I'm not sure what to do," I say, "when I'm so frustrated and just want to get out the door. What do I do? What can I say, so you take me seriously?"
"Tell me I can't watch Dinotrux today but don't really do it."
"Hmmm . . . but you know if I make a threat, I'll follow through with it." He knows this is true. I don't want to say something I won't do - and this occurs in many areas (promises to take him places or do things - unless fundamentally necessary to change).
"What about our code words?" I ask. We have code words I can use to get his attention: chocolate chip. He loves chocolate, so saying that word gets his attention. Plus, it's just silly enough that he listens.
"Okay," I agree. "And you know, I learned something here about you." He gazes at me. "I learned that I don't need to give such heavy threats. Sometimes just a little thing can help."
He snuggles in my arms a bit more, and we get his shoes and socks on together. Somehow this feels a lot better than fighting and struggling. Instead of being pitted together, we are in this together.