We hit the age awhile ago with the big kids where most of the parenting we had to do was maintenance. (At least for the time being.) We laid a foundation in their early years. He was easier than she. She is too much like me. Her will is iron. She gave me the biggest run for my money.
One time I cried.
And seeing me cry broke her from her tantrum. But with that brokenness, came a glimmer of power in her eyes. I was a little worried. However, that day was a turning point. Things started to get better. I was wiser choosing my battles. Because once you chose a parenting battle, you cannot lose.
With our oldest boy, my parenting arsenal was tappedwhen he was about two and half. My punishments didn't phase him. If I took away a toy, he didn't care. He didn't like that one anyway. Once I had visions once of starting all his toys on fire in the backyard as a punishment that might catch his attention. That was when I knew I couldn't come from a place of love when handing out consequences for him. So I enlisted The Dad. Dad is my boy's currency. If I had to call dad at work, he knew that it wouldn't be all fun and games and wrestling when he walked through the door at the end of the day.
It took one phone call.
And then we coasted.
Coasted right along.
Sure, little fires would flare. But those fires were pretty easily put out. I could say things like, "I hope there will be fast listening." Or, "I would hate to have to give a consequence." And they would tow the line....for the most part.
Thank you, Jesus.
But now. Now we have The Third Born Child. He is entering the foundation laying years. I had totally forgotten just how EXHAUSTING this phase can be.
He'll be standing on a chair, and I'll tell him to sit down.
Excuse me? Who do you think you are?! No?!? You can't tell me no. Unless I've asked you a yes or no question. And even then, it should be, "No, thank you." My big kids watch. Fascinated. Can we just tell her 'no?'
I'm trying to remember what we did with the others. He's too young for reasoning. He doesn't understand that I can call dad at work yet. So it's Game On.
It's plucking him off the chair every.single.time and saying the words, "Mommy said, 'sit down.' You need to sit down."
"Sit down," he repeats.
"Yes. Good job."
But it's everything. Or almost everything.
It's consistency. It's follow-through.
Talking and showing and teaching.
I'm hoping that Baby No. 4 will observe all of this and just kind of catch on on his own. Sort of a two for one foundation laying.
I'm ready for the coasting again.
At least until the teenage years.