Never start a battle of wills with Small, believe me, you will lose. Male readers need only extrapolate the theory as it relates to women: giving in sooner means having to say sorry fewer times (but never less than five). [Flowers also help – although maybe not with Small.]
For example, if I started saying things like, “You’ll not leave this table until you finish your food!” I soon found myself pleading, “Please, just eat one mouthful!” just to save face. You see, the advice I had been given was that if I lost, Small would never forget and would know that all he had to do was hold out long enough and I would crack: Small 1 Daddy 0.
I discovered the reality was that if Small didn’t want to eat he wouldn’t. He didn’t ask for food. He’d be ready for food in five minutes time when I’d just cleared it all away.
It was tempting to elaborate and give him adult thoughts, like, “Why should I stick to your schedule?” and “You are not the boss of me!” but that would have been to demonise him. Despite what I thought, Small was not a demon, he was just totally self-centred at this stage (see The Centre of the Universe).
The positive side of this was that any idea of a score board was meaningless. That thought was actually slightly egotistic: he was not chalking up a victory over me because I did not exist, except to provide things for him, ergo; there was no victory, I had just finally got around to providing him with the thing he required, i.e. putting him back doing what he was enjoying before I decided he needed food.
He would also not remember all the battles, providing he got what he wanted in the end, which invariably was the case. He was doing what we should all do but cannot because life is too pressured and demanding: he was living in the moment. He was not wasting his present remembering the past (those glorious days before Small – how did I fritter away all that free time, I’m just too tired to remember) or worrying about the future (how am I ever going to get a job again with a brain like mush?), he was living in the now. So, I decided not to compound my stress by worrying that I was scarring Small with my outbursts every time the pressure got too much. I was not. [We’ll find out in a few years!] He, at least, was not keeping a tally.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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