All posts tagged: wyatt

My New Secret Weapon in the Tantrum Wars

Let me just go right ahead and quote from yesterday’s post:

…every day he will shout “I hate school! I don’t want to go!” and then when I pick him up he will shout “NO! I am NOT READY TO GO HOME!” Wyatt does poorly with transitions. But for a blissful 7 hours a day (which really seems like rather a lot) that will be someone else’s problem.

Today, oh sin of sins, I was early. And it was popcorn day. And it was (sadly) my problem.

Now, mind you, this morning I said, hey, I’m supposed to pick you two up at the exact same time as Sam and Lily! How am I going to be in two places at 3:00? And we all had a good laugh, and Wyatt said, “pick us up early! You have to be early!”

And this afternoon at 2 I realized, hey, at 3:00 I’m supposed to be in two places at once, and how am I going to do that again? (Plan ahead, that’s my motto.) And I further realized that those two places are a solid 12-15 minutes apart. So ok, I thought, I will be early.

I knew it was a bad idea. Wyatt, as previously stated, does not like transitions. He particularly does not like unexpected transitions (although warning him ahead of time doesn’t help, either). He simply does not like to go from one thing to another, even when he actually wants to go on to the next thing. Which he didn’t. He wanted to stay and eat popcorn. For ten minutes. Note that even if I’d been able to spirit him into the car instantly, we were already going to be late for Sam and Lily…

It was not instant. It was pouty. It was stubborny. It was sit in your cubby and refuse to put your shoes on until Mommy walks out the door without you. It would have been screamy, but Wyatt is very aware of not being a “baby” at school. So he held that…until we got in the car.

In the car it occurred to me to do what I should have done earlier, and raid the glove box in the hope of finding candy. I KNEW there was something–and, gold mine! Two lollipops. I grab. I hand to Rory for distribution because, for whatever reason, she is still standing and Wyatt has sat in his seat (screaming. Did I mention screaming? In fact, there is a Calvin and Hobbes in which Calvin is sceaming because his mom wants him to take a bath, and his scream goes over the top of all the panels while she talks and tells him to cut it out and carries him (fingers clinging to walls, doorways) to the tub and so it is just AAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! across the whole thing–this was like that. So picture him screaming this whole time. You thought it was just Rory who did that, didn’t you? No.).

Anyway, Wyatt: screaming. Rory: two lollipops. Me: belatedly realizing that the lollipops are not the same. One is more desirable. It is orange, and just slightly plumper and more delicious looking and…Rory hands Wyatt the red one.

Did I say he was screaming before? Because now he is really screaming.

I did mention the 12-15 minute drive, right?

I grapple in the glove box–more and better lollipop, please, god of things I stick randomly in my car in case I need them–Tootsie Pop! Of all the gods, I knew that one was with me. I turn around to just bribe madly away but: Rory is screaming now. And Wyatt somehow has the more desirable lollipop.

So now I’m screaming. And we haven’t left the parking lot, either. By now they could have just stayed for the friggin’ popcorn.

Wyatt screamed for the tootsie pop, which I now wouldn’t give him, for about three minutes after I restored the orange lollipop to Rory. In fact, he screamed until I got my phone, and put on the video camera, and held it up over my shoulder into the back seat and he said WHAT ARE YOU DOING and I said I’m filming you, so that someday we can all remember how much fun you were to ride with in the car.

And then he stopped. And I thought, I’ve got you now, buddy.

I hope it works on Rory.

(The video is only worth watching for the fact that, once I get the iPhone camera on him (I so should not do this while driving) he turned out to be smirking. I must have told him what I was doing before I turned it on.)

KJMy New Secret Weapon in the Tantrum Wars
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The Parenting on Track Car Playout

Last week, I described the plot my friend Mimi and I laid to get my three littles to STOP MAKING ME CRAZY in the car.  How did it play out?

So far, so damn good.

I’m always a little embarrassed when these very simple things–courtesy of Parenting on Track–work over all the far more complicated strategies I’ve tried, and for the car, I’ve had more than a few. Let’s see, there were the stars that I took away for fighting or screaming. The countless times I’ve pulled over. The kids sent to their room when we got home. The times I’ve actually left the car until they stopped. None worked in the long run.

Granted, we’re not to the long run now, but I’m optimistic. Even a return to the removal of the privilege is EASY compared to all that stuff.

In truth, they got off easy–because after imposing “five days” on Tuesday–we were saying I would release them Monday, Tuesday for Lilly and Rory who blew it–on Saturday I forgot, and sent Wyatt home from skiing (around here that’s the equivalent of sending him home from the park) in the car of the very same friend I plotted with in the first place, to play at her house. (Some “friend!”) Rory wasn’t there when he left, but when the rest of us went in to lunch, eventually (after a rather embarrassingly long time) some kid or another noticed he wasn’t there, and said, “Where’s Wyatt?” “Oh, he went home with Trevor (Mimi’s son).”

Rory slapped her chicken finger down. “But you said we not ride in anybody else’s car until MONDAY!”

Oops. I’m very impressed by how quickly she caught me, though, and how that proves how well this was working. I have no doubt now that she totally got this. Lily chimed in, and I apologized, and released them both, too–with the caveat that if they don’t act in my car like they would in a friend’s car, it’s another five days.

And so far, as I said, so very very good.

I’ve been thinking about why this works. I’ve always said I couldn’t possibly parent without bribes and threats: wouldn’t even want to try. What this is, it strikes me, is bribes and threats inverted. I’m requiring that they bribe me. I’ve had good luck with threats, actually, but only because I’ve been very willing to carry them out–and that’s like this, only with a whole ‘nother painful step. Picture this: Wyatt slugs Rory in the car. I tell Wyatt, “do that again, and you can’t ride in anyone else’s car for five days. Same goes for all of you.” Now, I have to remember this and enforce, which I’m usually good at–but say Rory is the next transgressor. She’s punished. No one else is. That feels much more unfair. Plus, say the behavior wasn’t a hit, but a scream, or Lily’s patented I-won’t-let-you-get-into-the-car move. That wasn’t in the threat! But it’s just as bad. Maybe worse, from a problem-for-me point of view (and it’s all about me, right?). Eventually, it would work, or they would all grow out of it. Something.

But this? They all earned the privilege at the same time. (I kind of planned that–they were so bad so often it was easy enough to nail them all at the same time, which I guess might have worked with the threat too–but then there’s so often a single WORSE transgressor, and delivering the same punishment is not good. I just planned to have them all ask for the privilege on the same day, one way or another, and be denied it.) Now, they can lose it separately–but that will feel much more fair. And it’s not a punishment. It’s a loss. It’s not grounding, not a “consequence” but something just that little bit different. And it clearly makes sense to them. Of course they can’t hit their friends in their friends’ cars, or prevent their friends’ younger siblings from getting in the car. I mean, who would do that? It’s so obvious! And, “click,” they get it.

My life is so much better now. Thanks, Vicki (who I know swings by here occasionally, although I haven’t yet emailed her to say howdy. I will, I will!)

KJThe Parenting on Track Car Playout
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Wyatt’s Big Day

Wyatt’s Big Day

Originally uploaded by kjda

I had a fabulous day with Wy. There was some suggestion, yesterday, that perhaps China hasn’t had a blanket flu-freakout, and that travel dates, for everyone who’s waiting on them, may come soon–and although I’m still hoping we’ll be heading out in June, I can be ok with SOME delay–just not infinite, or even indefinite, delay. It turns out that the combination of a little positive news and a beautiful day returned me to my usual overly-optimistic viewpoint. (Optimism invariably triumphs over experience for me, which explains a great deal about things like the number of pets we have, and why we give multiple annual parties).

Point being, I was able to enjoy a day with Wyatt that’s going to be a lot tougher to have once Rory is home. I make it a point to spend some solo time with each of the three, to the point of working it into the schedule once a week–which, since the schedule is subject to many, many variables, means it happens every other week, or two out of three. And Lily’s been shortchanged this spring, but I’m working on that. But today wasn’t on the schedule, it just fell together, and it was wonderful. Lily had a playdate, Sam had baseball and a birthday, and Wyatt and I had a bike with a bikeseat for him and nowhere in particular to be, so we just enjoyed being together.

Turns out that when Wy grows up, he plans to be a fireman–the one that drives the truck—to live in the “fire garage” with his best friend Trevor, and to sleep in bunk beds, which are located not, as you might imagine, in the “fire garage”, but on the truck. And I will also note that it’s a lot easier to say “ok” to one frappacino which will only be partially consumed than to three.

KJWyatt’s Big Day
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