In a rage* one afternoon last week, I threw my four-year-old’s teddy out the window of our two-storey home.
That’s right, her beloved ‘raggie’ went bye-byes. One … two … three … out the window. Boom!
As I flung Teddy out the window into the crisp night air to fall to his death the damp grass below, I felt a rush of adrenalin – a release of pent-up frustration – before shit got very real.
What led me to throw my sweet, gorgeous, love of my life daughter’s teddy out the window?
Grab a cuppa and let me tell you a story about sprinkle shorts. A story about sprinkle shorts and a mother, who was pushed too far.
The story of the sprinkle shorts
Miss Four has a pair of shorts, which she affectionately calls her sprinkle shorts. They have a sprinkling of confetti and ‘love hearts’ all over them. They sound so gosh darn fun, don’t they? They would be, if she didn’t insist on wearing them every single day of her life.
It all started Monday two weeks ago when she asked to wear her sprinkle shorts to kindy. I queried whether she should wear leggings because it’s getting cooler. She assured me she would be fine running around and getting hot at kindy. Her argument sounded reasonable to me, so off she skipped in her sprinkle shorts. I like to call this Day One of the Six-Day Sprinkle Short Siege.
Tuesday rolled around and Miss Four asked to wear her sprinkle shorts again. I told her they were in the washing basket and she’d have to choose something else. This was when she promptly gave me ‘the face’. You know the one – the adorable puppy dog eyes, eyelashes fluttering and the bottom lip out. It was all it took to melt my frosty heart. I reached into the washing basket, gave them a once over and decided it would totally be okay if she wore them two days in a row.
Before you know it, we’ve hit hump day and we’re all starting to get a little weary. We were running late this particular morning and I was rushing to get the kids dressed. When Miss Four tried to pull one over on me about the sprinkle shorts, I gave her a firm no. Cue tears and throwing herself on the ground and Mummy’s blood pressure rising. I reached into the washing basket and gave Miss Four her stinking pair of shorts. I think I said something mature along the lines of, ‘Wear them. See if I care’.
I think you can guess where this story is going. Miss Four wore her sprinkle shorts six days in a row. I tried everything – cajoling, offering a reward, punishment etc. Nothing worked. Miss Four is a very strong-willed lass and for some reason that week she had decided to break me down.
I couldn’t believe it when Miss Four arrived home on day seven from a sleepover at my parent’s house wearing a skirt. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked my mum for breaking the cycle. How naïve I was.
Moving into day eight, Miss Four begged to wear her sprinkle shorts again. I told her she could wear them one more time.
‘You have a cupboard full of beautiful clothes,’ I said.
‘You can’t wear your $4 pair of Kmart sprinkle shorts every single day.’
Day nine she tried it on me again. This day, I refused to give in. I would remain calm and would not allow her to wear her sprinkle shorts.
I grabbed her pineapple shorts and calmly advised her she would be wearing them. Cue whinging, whining and general ‘drive me craziness’. I put her pineapple shorts on, she took her pineapple shorts off, I put the pineapple shorts on, she took her pineapple shorts off. We did this three times until I bundled her up like a baby and rubbed her on the back while she sobbed. I quickly carried her into the car, buckled her up and prayed that she’d allow me drop her off to kindy without too much fuss. She was a little quiet, but okay. I, on the other hand, cried all of the way to work.
Are you wondering why I let these shorts get to me so much? It’s just a pair of shorts, right? For me, this was more than the sprinkle shorts. I was attempting to make a point and put an end to constant negotiations about anything and everything. I needed to break the cycle and take back the hand.
On the week continued, and on the battles raged. Absolutely nothing was working and her behaviour was deteriorating. I asked the girls to hop in the bath one evening last week (Please note this is nearing the end of week two of hostile negotiations regarding the sprinkle shorts) and Miss Four refused. I counted. She didn’t move. I threatened confiscation of her toys. She didn’t move. I threatened a time out. She didn’t move.
And that is when it happened. I told her that if she didn’t hop in the bath on the count of three Teddy was going out the window.
She didn’t move, so out the window he went. Poor Teddy – an innocent victim.
Much screaming and crying ensued from both kids, but I can tell you what, she hopped in the bath quick smart. Once she was done we rescued Teddy from outside.
Her behaviour the next day was a noticeable improvement. I don’t think we’re past the sprinkle short issue, but I think Miss Four and I are beginning to understand each other a little more now.
I ummed and ahhed about sharing this story with you because the last thing I want is to tarnish Miss Four’s reputation. Please know that she is one of the most adorable, funny, kind, caring, clever and adventurous kids you ever will meet.
I wanted to let other parents in a battle of wills with their kids know that they’re not alone. We all go through tough periods and what works for one doesn’t work for another. We’re all muddling through parenthood and trying our best to raise decent human beings.
If you ever need to throw your child’s toy out the window, I’ve got your back 😉
Linking up today with Kylie Purtell for IBOT.
*Not rage as in the Oxford Dictionary definition, simply a mum pushed to her limit.