Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A line in the sand

Biscuit and I had to run errands yesterday evening, including having his birthday invitations printed.

We got to the print shop, and there was a woman in line in front of us. She wasn't very computer savvy, so it was taking a little time for the store employee to explain her options. Biscuit was getting antsy, so he started dancing around and twirling and jumping. 

"Hey," I said to get his attention. "Stop jumping around like that. People are trying to walk through here, and you're getting in their way."

That lasted less than a minute, and he started jumping around again.

I made my voice a littler more stern and said, "Stop. Now." And I pulled him by the arm back closer to the counter.

Again, it lasted for less than a minute, and he was at it again. I understand that he was excited about seeing his invitations, and that's it's hard to be patient while you're standing in line, but I had told him twice. And my own patience was wearing thin.

He started dancing around again and as this man came around the corner, he and Biscuit came really close to a nasty collision. The man almost fell trying to avoid Biscuit.

I pulled Biscuit over to where I was, bent down to look in his eyes and said, "No toy department at the store."

At our favorite store, one of the things Biscuit loves to do is cruise through the toy department. Even when I remind him that we're only looking, not buying, he still gets excited about just seeing what's there. So to tell him that he wasn't going to get to go through the toys was equivalent to slapping his face off.

"But ... but ... but, Mom," Biscuit said. "I'm so sorry. I'm really sorry, Mom."

"I appreciate you saying you're sorry, but I'm not changing my mind about the toy department," I said. "Remember how we talked about making choices? Well, your choice was to keep jumping around even though I said to stop. So the result of your choice is that you don't get to see the toys."

I was very surprised that he didn't cry. His eyes welled up with tears, but there were several people standing around, and I think he didn't want them to see him cry.

Biscuit has been struggling with listening and doing what he's told lately. And quite frankly, it's been very odd for us. He's always been so easy, that when he hits a rough patch, it's hard on all three of us.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked Biscuit up from day care and asked him how his day went.

"Well, Mom," he said, "it wasn't so great. I got in trouble."

"What for?" I asked him.

"I wasn't a good listener," he said with his head hanging down.

"What happened?" I asked him.

"The teacher said for us to write our names and our letters and our numbers, but I didn't want to do it," he said, "so I just drew on my paper."

I talked to him about listening better and doing what his teacher told him to do.

Then the very next day, he struggled again. And the next day, too.

His teacher seemed a little bothered by the whole thing because it's uncharacteristic.

"I don't understand it," she said. "He's always loved doing work like that, but he just hasn't wanted to do it lately."

That evening was our first talk about choices and how bad choices result in bad things happening, i.e. you don't listen, you don't get to watch cartoons.

It's been hard to make good on our threats because the boy really enjoys watching cartoons between his bath and bedtime. But as hard as it is, Jeff and I both agree that consistency is key. And because his cartoons are so important, it's extra incentive to make better choices.

So there's no good-cop/bad-cop. It's been both of us as bad cops!

Things have gotten better, but as yesterday evening proved, he's still trying to find how far he can push those boundaries.

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