Kerry, I just had to share a story about my little Tate having the opportunity to learn from his mistakes.
I had found some recipes to help the boys use their creative juices and love for cooking to actually contribute to our table this week. Today was our third recipe. Apple turnovers.
They sat complete and delicious-looking on the stove. Around dinner time, as I was finishing up my baby daughter’s bath, the older boys had started eating their meal, and I hear my husband Matt say, “Tate, you need to go upstairs and ask Mommy what the consequence should be. And if she doesn’t have one, I will give you one, but it won’t be a nice one.”
Our three year-old Tate came upstairs, and told me that he had peed on the wall that holds up the table. (Translation: the wall under the island in the kitchen.) As he said it, he kind of looked sad, then he kind of looked happy… it made me think he wasn’t exactly sorry. At this point, I was glad that Matt wasn’t giving him a consequence, that it was someone who could be slightly more emotionally removed from the incident. Because if it had been me watching the peeing, I would have been furious!
Calmly, I told him he needed to sit on his bed and put his underwear on, I’d be back in 5 minutes when the timer went off. Five minutes went by, I went to get him, he ate dinner, etc. At the end of dinner, I dished out servings of apple turnovers, minus one for Tate’s poor decision. I even put a little Cool Whip on his brother’s portion. Tate sauntered over and said, “Mommy is this one for me?” with a smile on his face. Matt and I looked at each other and braced ourselves for what was about to happen.
“Tate, I would have loved to give you an apple turnover for dessert, but only little boys who don’t pee on the wall get apple turnover.” Immediately he was defeated. He started wailing. He fell on his bottom and just cried. I went over to him, feeling very sad myself, and picked him up. “Oh buddy, I am so sad.” And this is the thing that I did not expect: In between his sobs, he cried, “Me too…maybe next time…maybe next time…”
I broke down crying! I couldn’t help it! He knew he had made a bad decision and he was so sad. He couldn’t get that decision back. He told me he was sleepy and wanted me to take him to bed. Crying, crying.
Sometimes parenting with love hurts.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents
As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.