Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Goodbye, Impaling Death Stick

So, here's a parenting break-through for you:  being nice to your kids is more effective than being mean to them.  Let me see if I can explain.

Example:  We've had a five-foot bamboo stick in our backyard for a while.  It was staked to a fast-growing tree we bought online, a tulip poplar.  Anyway, Addie took to it immediately, because she's a nature girl and loves sticks and stones and leaves and dirty and all things outside.  She's been racing around the yard with it, causing Eric and I much trepidation.  It's a miracle she hasn't impaled herself on it, and why we let her keep it for so long, I don't know.

We were all hanging out outside tonight after dinner, and Addie comes onto the porch with the bamboo impaling stick and, because she's not terribly spatially aware, managed to jab me in the neck with it, hard.  "Ouch!" I yelled, jumping out of my chair.  "That's it!  No more bamboo death stick!"  And I grabbed it away from her.

Or tried to, at least.  Because she was holding on tight.  I literally could not get it away from her.  "Addie, let go!"  I yelled.  "Addie, let go!" her dad yelled.  It took both of us to pry it away from her and then what was there to do but give her a time out?  I mean, if both of your parents are yelling at you to let go of the damned stick, you damned well better let go.  Right?

Well, not really.  I realized as I was shutting the bedroom door on Addie's crumpled, in-time-out little body that I had been the one who messed up.  I had let her keep the stick in the first place, even though it was all sharp on one end like a gnarled little dead monkey paw.  I had over-reacted when I got stabbed and had grabbed something she valued away from her.  I, in short, had acted like a child.  And then had to punish her when she acted like one in return.  Bad news.

I'm guessing it would have worked much better if I had kneeled down in front of her and explained why we had to get rid of the stick, and since she's a pretty reasonable little kid, it probably would have worked out a lot better than it did when I freaked out.

You know, sometimes I think I've got the parenting thing figured out, and then I realize how much I have to learn.  Man.

1 comment:

  1. It's seldom easy because of the dilemmas: she NEEDS sticks and such to play with including the consequences of poking them into other people. Sounds like an awesome bamboo stick Reilly would have definitely chosen to play with. On our walks in the mts., we collected 20 different sticks until he could carry no more. He picked out the sharpest, most deadly one and brought it back to the condo, I'm sure much to the dismay of his parents.