Here are “facts” you need to know to put my story in context:
1) My 3-year old doesn’t like to wear pants. He is slim through the hips, okay, he has no butt, and his pants are always falling down. I think this is primarily the reason he’s always removing them. That, and the shock factor.
2) My husband is in France this week – a story for another day – so I’m trying to juggle the demands of a 3-year old and a 9-week old.
Tonight, a simple pair of shorts set off a mommy-son confrontation that lasted nearly 45 minutes – Here’s how it went down…
It’s hot tonight – in the 80’s – so after work I thought we’d go outside to run through the sprinklers. When I went upstairs to change out of my “work clothes” Wolfgang followed. And decided to remove his pants. When we got back downstairs I handed him a pair of shorts and asked him to put them on. That’s when the trouble started.
He yelled “no” and threw the shorts on the ground. I told him to pick them up. Another yell of “no” and I realized I had just stepped into it – a toddler confrontation and I couldn’t be the one to crumble! Why, oh why did I bother with the shorts? Would it have been such a big deal to let him run around outside without shorts? I’ve let him run around back there in “the buff”! What was I thinking? And now I couldn’t back down!
First, we tried a time out at the bottom of the stairs. I explained that he would have to sit on the stairs until he was ready to pick up his shorts. A quick kick to mommy’s leg, a few shouts of protest and the situation had escalated again. I hauled him upstairs to his bedroom and locked him in with the gate. Now he’s screaming – I’m not sure screaming accurately describes the sound coming out of his mouth – it was a primal yell from the core of his being. All over a pair of pants?!?!?! This is getting ridiculous!
He’s now arguing that he wants to sit on the bottom of the stairs instead of his room. I try to explain that he doesn’t get to pick his punishment. Try explaining this one to a 3-year old! He didn’t take it well.
After 20 minutes of screaming, he tells me he’s ready to pick up the pants. Predictably when we get downstairs he starts “testing” me again. This time he picks up the pants when I start to count to 3, just to drop them on the floor -Deep breathe. New tactic.
I tell him that I will not play or talk to him until he picks up his pants – okay, it doesn’t sound very mature, but I’m not dragging him back to his room, and if I let him sit at the bottom of the stairs he has “won”. He spends 15 minutes walking into my field of vision with the shorts and throwing them. It takes all my strength to smother the grin that threatens to appear on my face. I have to admire his spirit!
After folding the laundry I go outside to start the sprinklers. He follows, still holding the pants, but I’ve noticed they haven’t flown through the air – a good sign. A few more minutes and he starts to put them on! A smile, a triumphant “I did it!” and a big hug for mommy ends the standoff.
So here’s the question… who won? Does it matter? Next time – I say forget the shorts.