Alternate title: How I Learned to stop Arguing and Love The Informant.
Did you see THAT video? You know the one of the dad who finds out his daughter was writing rude things about him on Facebook and so he SHOT HER LAPTOP?!?!?!
I was both intrigued and appalled.
Intrigued because I have been known to let my temper get the better of me. When a nerf bullet hit me in the head, I put the nerf gun in the trash. When one of the girls threw a barbie during a temper tantrum, I broke barbie’s neck.
But seeing that dad on the video nervously smoking a cigarette, absolutely seething with anger — and I’ve read comments that he was sooooooooooo relaxed, but personally, I didn’t see that. I saw a dad who was incredibly agitated and mad as hell — stopped me in my tracks. It was really appalling. His absolute lack of control really shocked me.
I don’t want to ever get there. I will happily embrace my approximately 100 page views per day on this blog, rather than get a million hits for doing something really traumatizing to my family.
This relates to The Informant because she’s a very… challenging… child. She is contrary. She is sneaky. She likes attention, and she probably gets less than her siblings, especially from others. She’s not an identical twin, and she’s not a cute baby (or a cheerful 4-year-old).
Already, at almost-7-years-old, disciplining her is difficult. She totally smirks at me — and if I rip the head of an inanimate object who merely smiles blank-eyed at me, you can imagine what I think of doing to an almost-7-year-old who smirks and rolls her eyes at me.
Meanwhile, I try to avoid threatening my children. Not because the threats are empty, but because I don’t see the point. I want my kids to LEARN not to blow their nose on the couch (true story!), but if I say, “Don’t blow your nose on the couch or I’ll XYZ to you!” they’re only learning to avoid punishment. They’re not learning why not to blow your nose on the couch.
Hand to God, I was literally speechless at the nose-blowing-on-the-couch incident, which happened Friday. I really did not think I’d ever have to explain to my children WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BLOW YOUR NOSE ON THE COUCH. I mean, really? And no, it was not the 1yo, 4yo or 7yo who did it, nor was it the 9-year-old you’re thinking of! It was Animal!
But old habits die hard, and I find myself threatening occasionally. Most often with The Informant. My Chemical Romance gave me a list of things I should take away from her as a consequence of various infractions, but again, that’s just teaching an avoidance technique.
One day, she was arguing with me, and I found myself searching for something to threaten her with. It was one of those rare moments where you really see yourself for a second, and I thought
This is totes cray-cray.
I keep upping the ante and upping the ante, and one day, I’m going to find myself saying, “Wipe the toothpaste off the bathroom counter or I’m never letting you brush your teeth again!” (You’re welcome, future dentist) or “Pick up that jacket, or it belongs to me now!” (Size 7/8).
This is totally crazy.
I walked out of her room, back into my room, and decided to stop threatening her. At some point, she’s going to learn that toothpaste on the bathroom sink is gross — or not — and I can’t force her to see that. And if I try to force her by blackmail/threatening/consequence, it’s only going to make her resent me, and that will drive a wedge into our relationship. And while I don’t want toothpaste on the bathroom sink, or jackets on the floor, I want a positive relationship with her MORE.
What I am doing rather than threatening is (1) telling her my expectation and (2) walking away if she argues/objects. It’s surprisingly difficult (again, old habits). But I’m finding that it’s way more effective than threatening/blackmailing/consequence. And I feel better about our relationship when she’s free to be herself and I’m free to be myself.