1. By praising him too much, to make up for my perceived shortcomings.
We went to the doctor on Tuesday, and he asked Taj what he is good at. And for a moment Taj and I couldn’t think of anything. Playing with cars, making lots of noise, trashing my livingroom, piling up all his toys and then throwing them all over, stomping on sand castles. I realized later that I should have said “He knows every last thing about the ocean and then some. Really. Ask him about copepods or the latest in submersive technology.”
The fact that he doesn’t “DO” things- ie- play an instrument, do sports, make art, build sand castles- sometimes makes me feel like I’m not doing things right. And Taj is really willful when I try to do a project with him. He says “No thank you. I’m busy trashing the livingroom.”
So when he “does” something I say “WOW! Awesome! Look at that scribble you made on the paper!”
A couple months ago Michael got food poisoning from a burrito and was camped out on the couch for two days and nights. Taj decided to be up from 3-6 that night. During which time he went to the bathroom and then refused to wash his hands. He sat in the bathroom for half an hour wimpering until I shouted “Turn on the f#$%ing water. Put you hands under it. Turn off the [email protected]#$ing water. Turn off the light and get into bed.” … “NOW” It was a lovely parenting moment. But come on. 5 am and you won’t wash your hands? Are you kidding me? In the morning he said I made him nervous when I yelled. I thought, good. Now you’ll have something to tell your therapist in a few years.
3. Yelling More
Taj is pretty well adapted to my yelling when he won't listen. We do pretty well, but if he's having a day where he consistently ignores everything I say, I yell. The other day I yelled "SHOES SHOES SHOES SHOES PUT THEM ON!!!" And he said, "Mama! Knock it off!"
4. Silent Treatment
I do work hard to be calm, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quiet.
Ok, I’m lying. Another prime example of my splendid parenting. After toting Taj all over to two different play dates and taking him and his friend on a beautiful walk complete with cookies, the little f&$^er gets really mad at me when we have to go home and tells me how much I make him sad. And then he told me he didn’t like me. So I said, “Honey, I know you love me, and I love you, and I’m not going to talk to you for the next hour.”
Which sounds like a crazy thing to do (batshit), but sometimes if I just stop talking, he’ll stop trying to fight with me.