We are on lockdown here in the Boonies.
The 4-year-old is under house arrest. She was tried and convicted for completely freaking out when it was time to leave a birthday party. It was her 789th offense, give or take. The judge and jury – that would be me and her father – deliberated for less than 5 minutes before voting to put the kibosh on the behavior. Finally.
The defendant argued her own case, stating she just really, really, really hates leaving fun parties, play dates, and parks.
The judge, however, sentenced her to no fun parties, play dates, parks, or TV until what will feel like eternity. On the books, however, that would be Saturday.
House arrest also means the defendant is not allowed to run and hide before bath time, or kick or scream her way up the stairs to the bath.
Defendant also is discouraged from crawling back under the sheets more than once in the a.m., or making her quickly-aging jailer pull her from the bed. Whining is allowed only in the comfort of her quarters.
The defendant is eligible for time off for good behavior, and her jailers state that after a few days of confinement, all is remarkably improved. There has been peace in the land and self-correction has been quick. Praise and joy have taken the place of frequent adult teeth-grinding and chancletaso (spanking) fantasies.
Can you tell I sort of lost my marbles this week?
If you look at my bookshelf, you might think I am a children's therapist, for I have read everything from the classic Children: The Challenge to How to Speak so your Children Will Listen. I have attended positive parenting classes and counseled with friends far wiser and calmer than I. I have used praise, negotiation, threats, and silence.
This week, we got tired of trying to figure out the nice, non-therapy-inducing way around an issue that has exhausted us. I should not have to chase her young self around a swing set every. single. time.
Kind mama friends have reminded me that this phase won't last forever, and that their kids do the good-bye freak out too. She's normal and smart and strong and lovely, they told me. Compliant, though? Not so much.
I do not know if lockdown will be a long-term fix for this issue. The hammer approach has worked on past offenses, so we'll see. This, I do know: I cannot get too comfortable with whatever smooth ride we get for a while. As a smart woman once offered, "Parenting is one big game of whack-a-mole. You think you've got it, and then another one pops up.''