I was describing a recent battle with Xavi about getting dressed to a friend. You see, I had these cute, red quiksilver jeans that all the "girls" would go wild over but he refused to wear them. As his protests escalated, I quickly took them off with a sad sigh and put sweatpants on him. Sadly, he would not be the cutest, best dressed little man at the party but his comfort and happiness were more important to me than what he looked like. Tracy said to me "yeah...not going to die going up that hill". I laughed and immediately knew I was going to use it someday.
|Guess who they're keeping an eye on?|
In other words, I chose to not charge a potentially impossible hill where I would surely be cut down by a hail of defensive fire. In other words, I was choosing my battles with my stubborn toddler just as we (should) do in any relationship.
I did, however, choose a battle yesterday morning that SEEMED important and maybe with time I will be glad that I did. Right now, I am still recovering and feel like I have literally been hit with a truck.
Xavi can be a bit of a "bossy boots" and demands things from me in one word commands. "Owside." "Thomas." "Snack." "Dis." "Dat." "STUCK!" Off!" UP!!!" Apparently, I hit a wall this morning and decided that he needed to say "please" with all of these commands. If only he would just say please, I would do whatever he asked of me. But he WOULD NOT say please. At first it was funny.
"Xavi can you say "Thomas please."?"
"No. SAY "Thomas PLEASE.".
And repeat and repeat. He would not say it. I know that he can because he always has in the past when I've occasionally asked him to say please. Apparently, I also underestimated the stubbornness of my little boy. And off we went.
Time out in his room. Screams and cries and demands but still no please.
I left his room...with him in it. I did explain what I was going to do and what I needed from him...but doubtful he heard me with all his yelling. Deafening screams and door pounding...baby was napping so I went in to re-explain. Still no please.
I went about my "chores" and started making up things that needed to be done. I just kept moving around the house so as to be a moving target and hopefully help him settle himself and give in to get mama's attention. Screaming, clawing, grasping, chasing, desperate crying...but no please.
I texted my sister...then called her for advice on how to wrap this up without "losing" but maintaining my own emotional control. And he finally said "up, peese". I immediately scooped him up while thanking him for saying it.
"Owside." "peese." So off we went outside to sit in the sun and maybe play a bit. But he was mad because I made him wear shoes. "OFF!!!" But no please so in we went. I didn't want to go in the house and wake up poor little Nico so I shut the gate and sat down on the cold ground covering my face, trying to breathe. He grabbed my hands to make me look at him. He tried to sit in my lap. All the while screaming and yelling, crying and sobbing but no please. By this time, I am fighting tears. I called my sister once more desperately but only left a voicemail of him yelling. I really didn't know what to do.
I know what I wanted to do and I can hardly bring myself to write it down. Suffice it to say that a few choice words did slip during all of this. My hands wanted to stop him from making noise and I was shaking with the effort to control myself. I gathered him in my arms and held him as tight as I could. In my logic I thought it the same as when you fear a horse may kick you...it's far better to be as close to the rump as possible, minimizing any injuries from a potentially lethal strike. Instead of a deadly kick to the head, you'd likely just get bumped and jostled by their powerful hindquarters. So I held him close so my limbs could inflict no harm and wait for logic and rational mind to turn back on. This actually settled me back into a space that I could parent from...and I asked him again to say "please". Still no 'please', but I was able to gather my wits and take him into his bedroom for one more time out. He said "off...peese". I praised him and took off his shoes. We went out and sat on the couch. I started to cry. He was shaking from the effort of an hour long temper tantrum and tremendous emotional outburst. I fed him and talked to him while he watched Thomas. I told him how it hurt mama when he cried but that he needed to be kind to mama too. And by saying "please" we show kindness to someone who can help us, who wants to help us. And that I would move the earth for him...if only he would say please.
We all had a good nap but I was still shaken when we woke up and I couldn't turn my neck. Xavi seemed fine, going about his snack and playing like it was all a distant memory, if that. I still wasn't sure if I did the right thing. I still wasn't sure it was worth it. It's always scary for me when I'm pushed that close to the edge, fearing my own thoughts and emotions, and fearing that I've somehow inflicted lasting damage on my sweet boy. The one I'd gladly move heaven and earth for. Did I charge an impossible hill only to fall on my own sword?
A wise mama told me that this IS a scary part of parenting, being pushed to the edge and that it IS very hard to set boundaries AND hold them in the face of toddler fury. She encouraged me to look for any good that came out of this and to see that our kids show us amazing grace. Grace that I needed to extend to myself. I didn't hurt my child. I didn't inflict damage. I set a boundary and I should give myself a break, and some extra credit.
He has since said 'peese' every time I've prompted him...without hesitation.
It looks like it was just a flesh wound and I'll recover to live (and fight) another day.