This is a series of stories about my oldest child. During his early years, I spent my on-line time reviewing symptom checklists for a variety of behavioral disorders, and I was quite sure we would have to send him to military school one day. I felt completely defeated by his behavior on many occasions. I have long struggled to find the right way to share these stories on my blog. I finally decided just to write them as they are, with no great revelation about their impact. (Though a couple do include a follow-up disciplinary technique that worked!) My purpose in sharing these stories is three-fold. I hope to provide a good laugh, to give a thank-goodness-its-not-just-my-kid OR an at-least-my-kid-hasn’t-done-that feeling, and also to instill hope that your ‘that’ kid can turn out to be as amazing as mine someday. He still drives me somewhat crazy, but at 18 he is a great person with a bright future (and was not sent to military school)! Some personality traits that are horrific in a young child are pretty dang awesome in a teen ready to head out into the world.
Getting my son to leave the park grew more and more complicated over the course of a couple of months when he was in preschool. I was beginning to dread going and then staying way too long to avoid the battle of leaving.
Once, trying to run from me, he jumped the railing into a fountain and ended up completely under water when he tried to wade in and fell. It was not a very warm day for being soaked. I figured that might teach him a lesson, but no luck!
Another day, he just kept refusing to leave and ran away from me, even jumping back out of the car and running again the one time I caught him and put him in the car.
His two little sisters had been waiting in the car for quite a while at this point. Finally, I climbed into the car and sat a moment. He waved. HE WAVED?!?! I pulled away ever so slowly and inched away from the park. He disappeared from where he had been waving, but he was not running towards my vehicle in a panic. (You know, the way I had planned for this to go!) I turned and drove around the block as quickly as I could and pulled back into the parking space where I’d just been. I could see him across the park in a swing. As I approached, he sat happily swinging without a care in the world, and said, “I thought you left,” in a tone which made it apparent he was not thrilled to see I’d returned. I was able to get a hold of the swing and dragged him to the car, pulling him into the driver’s side with me so he couldn’t escape, not letting go until the car was in motion. Luckily, he never tried to open the door and leap out once the car was moving!
From then on, my initial go-to move was to suddenly jump him like a kidnapper and drag him to the car when I was ready to go and have a friend help put the girls in the car while I held him. He started to be less resistant about leaving for the most part after awhile.
Then one day, I somehow ended up at the park alone with him, one of his friends from preschool, and the baby. I’m not sure if I thought having his buddy there would help him behave better or what, but obviously, it turned out to be a bad idea.
It had rained recently, and the wood chips were too thin in a number of places creating mud holes I repeatedly told the two boys to stay out of as they played.
The details are fuzzy on what I did with the baby or the friend, or how the chase began, but I know he ended up aware that I was trying to leave, without having a chance to grab him when he wasn’t expecting it.
He was on the opposite side of a large mud hole from me, with his usual taunting grin that I remember very well. He scooped a handful of mud from the sloppiest part of the puddle and set it atop his head and gave it a good smashing with his hands, then wiped it down his face and neck and finally onto his clothing, staring me dead in the eye the entire time. I tried to catch him, but he took off too quickly. Every chance he got, he would get muddier. He was laughing and hollering about how we could never leave because I wouldn’t want mud all over the car. He occasionally scooped handfuls and flung them in my general direction when I would get close enough. I don’t remember how I ever managed to catch him and get him in the car, but we were both a muddy mess!
Then I had to take his friend home.
That’s right; I had to pull up to my friend’s house to drop off her child and pick up my daughter while spattered in mud, with this boy in my backseat who was covered head to toe in it. By this time the mud was drying hard on his skin, and he was complaining loudly about how much it itched. After laughing hysterically at the scene and the story behind it, my friend offered to let him come in and wash it off. I refused and explained that he would just have to endure the itchiness until we got home as punishment for his behavior.
The next week, I called ALL of his friends’ moms and invited them to play at the park. We sat in the car with him restrained on my lap for twenty minutes watching all his friends play and then we drove home. It is one of the few things I ever felt had a significant impact on his behavior. He left the park more easily from that day forward.
I am the mother of seven children ranging from teens to a toddler, living out in the middle of nowhere, USA. I aim to hone the craft of giving advice without pretending to have this whole mom thing figured out. I am Christian, but not the really nice kind that is good at it. I am also conservative, but I promise not to be in your face with political agendas very often. I like to infuse humor into my writing, so don't freak out if you are offended or appalled by what you read here. There is a very fine line between serious advice and sarcastic hyperbole.