Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just do the opposite

Life with small children is full of paradoxes.

I'm finding that, in some cases, doing the opposite of what I want to do or think I should do is actually working out quite well. When I can remember to do this, things are a little easier around here.

Faced with a defiant kid? Don't try to be firm, stand your ground or teach them a lesson. Tickle them. (This has just defused so many situations lately.)

The kids won't eat? Don't become a short-order cook, offer lots of little snacks or insist that they eat just two more bites. Starve them. (My kids eat more dinner when they haven't been snacking all day or been forced to eat when they're not hungry.)

One of them won't stop arguing with you? Don't try to get the last word, just realize that it takes two to argue and walk away. He doesn't really think that he's right if he gets the last word. Really.

The kid who knows better becomes demanding? Don't remind him to use manners, just ignore him until he does.

And the biggest paradox of all stems from the most frequent comment I get from other moms when they find out how many and how old our kids number: "Oh, I'd never leave the house."

I quickly found that not leaving the house is the worst thing you can do with three kids under the age of four. Even if it means dressing and shoeing three kids, packing three bags, buckling three kids in the car. (I love the buckling part. It means they can't reach me to wipe their little noses on me.) 

Yesterday morning, the kids were bonkers. Danny woke up mad at the world. Fiona was actually fine until Danny woke up and started agitating everyone, though I was not pleased to find her sitting on the floor scooping ice cream out of the box with her fingers at 8:30. I thought that I had Owen settled down for a morning nap and did a craft with the kids only to learn that he was hollering in his crib, possibly for a while, probably plotting his 3 a.m. revenge on me. I did have a plan to wrap up some errands this morning on a multi-stop tour with three kids in tow. That was a bad idea that I promptly abandoned given the circumstances.

A better idea, however, was to just take all of themthe cranky, the agitated and the naplessto Sam's Club for shopping and a hot dog.

And therein lies the paradox.

My kids are actually better behaved in public than at home. Unless we're in the library. They're always utter heathens in the library. But my assumption was that kids would try to get away with murder in public. Maybe they felt safer in their mischief since mom knew others were watching her every move. Apparently, only mom cares or imagines that others seem to be watching and judging.

That said, our trip to Sam's Club was a rousing success despite one rude shopper who berated me for holding up foot traffic while my son put coins in the Salvation Army kettle. Bravo, lady. Coal for you or better yet, flaming dog poop.

The kids happily ate their hot dogs, shared a bottle of water and took great delight, as usual, in walking over to the trash can to deposit their trash. They never wander off while eating, unlike at home where they are completely incapable of sitting down to eat. (You'd think the seats were lined with hot coals or something.)

Owie watched us from his perch in the cart as he chewed on a plastic straw (don't worry, it was a completely sanitary, individually wrapped straw and he's smart enough not to gag himself). He's never this calm at home while we're eating.

The kids even got a little lesson in using a plastic knife. The kids took turns using it to cut hot dog bun. Danny cut up pieces of the bun and divvied them out. He never shares like this at home.

He even stuck with us, helped put stuff in the cart and didn't ask for too many things. Though, I had to laugh at his response when I said we couldn't buy the kids' playhouse he wanted because it wouldn't fit in the van.

"Wait a second," he says, finger in the air and eyes wide, "We can put it on top of the van."

I love the way he thinks.  He took it pretty well when I gently refused. He also never takes rejection of his ideas that well at home.

So if I ever need some proof that my kids are not monsters, I just take them out in public. Seems like a bad idea, but it's actually makes me feel somewhat successful and gives them a chance to behave well for a change. And I really need that from time to time.

1 comment:

Jae said...

LMAO! Oh I love it!! I had three under 4 at one point ... *sigh* those were the days. ;)