Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Parenting is Hard and Makes No Sense

We all know this right?

Let me tell you about our most recent example of how this played out at our house...

Many of our friends and family may know that Tessa has always been quite the picky dresser. She has also been a bit of a "spirited" child. (I just love that term - it sounds so fun! It's not so much...most of the time.)

A little background...

From the time she was 2 until about 2 months ago, Tessa has worn jeans by choice approximately zero times. Uncomfortable, and probably more importantly in her mind, unstylish, Tessa would NOT wear them for anything. No bribe would work. Tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ensued any time the topic was broached. It quickly became a battle just not worth fighting.

On another note, occasionally, spirited little Tessa would have a particularly chatty day at Pre-K or Kindergarden. Nothing serious, but enough for the teacher to bring it up at pick-up time or move down a color on the color chart. This never bothered Tessa and didn't really do much to deter her the next day.

Enter the infamous "Jean Punishment." This was a brilliant idea that worked almost without fail. In the course of our 10 years of parenting, we have tried countless ways to get our kids motivated to do what we want - sticker charts, chore charts, work punishments, time-outs - you name it we tried it. This was the simplest and the one with the most success. If behavior was an issue at school, Tessa wore jeans the next day at school. Every time and it worked. The following days were so much better!

Now, you may ask how we got her to actually put the jeans on since they were so terrible. I have no idea. It defies logic. I have no idea why, when it was a punishment, she would willingly put them on without an argument, a tear or even an ounce of hesitation. But, thankfully, she did. And, it worked. Her kindergarden teacher kind of thought we had achieved expert parenting status. In reality? We were just lucky. Something worked and it stuck. For a while anyway and then it stopped working and we started trying new things all over again.

Anyway, that was all just backstory to what happened tonight. And, why parenting is just such a wild card and just hard.

About 2 months ago, Tessa decided jeans were not so bad. Little by little, she sweet talked her dad into a handful of pairs. On our last trip to Ohio, she only packed jeans. That's it.

And, now tonight, we had tears about jeans again. She has no clean jeans for school tomorrow. The horror. How ironic right? My how things have changed! (And, now I'm getting flashes of what is in store during our junior high and high school days.)

Interestingly enough, she has four pair of dirty jeans on her bedroom floor. I did laundry today. I tried to logically explain to her, through her tears, that if she had simply put those jeans down the laundry chute, they would have magically been clean by tomorrow morning. Somehow, that logic didn't seem to help and just made the tears fall faster and louder.

Parenting is hard. Consistency is key until it doesn't work anymore. Kids love things until they hate them and vice versa. Logic is hard to communicate and is mostly lost on them. So is irony. (Sarcasm may fall in that category for some families, but not ours. It's so common in our house that they picked up on that real quick.)

All we can do is keep trying until something sticks and try again when that doesn't work anymore either. And, we have to hope that our unconditional love sticks most of all. Because even though they're not easy to figure out and they may do things that drive us batty, we wouldn't have it any other way.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. Such well written truth and bits of wisdom I needed to hear today while working with my spirited little one.