Christina M. Currie: Consistently inconsistent
There’s no doubt that parents set themselves up for failure. The question is: Do they do so on purpose? Or, is it merely a case that they’ve overestimated their children or themselves?
Consistency is what the experts say is required of parents, yet I’ve never seen such a plethora of mixed messages.
And, as much as I agree with experts, I find maintaining a straight path is one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood.
Let’s just bypass discipline — everyone knows that teaching your children that “no” means “no” the first six times, but will turn to “yes” on the seventh, is the height of inconsistency. Parents also know that one of the flaws of creation is that children were blessed with 37.6 times the energy that adults have.
In fact, I feel like I’m beating the odds when I hold out against six “can I haves.”
But, that’s not the point. Consistency in discipline is a worn-out topic and certainly not the only mixed message children receive.
Although only 4 and 5 years old, my girls and I are at constant odds about cleaning up. It’s not that they’re not capable. I’ve watched at the preschool as a group of little ones rush into action when teachers launch into the “Clean Up” song.
I’ve tried that at home.
The problem is that they’re easily distracted and frankly, just don’t see the point.
On the phone with Aunt Cathy, 5-year-old Katie cried, “I have to clean up, but I don’t like it. Only mommies like to clean.”
The daughter of a reporter has yet to learn how to report accurately. Mommies clean. They don’t necessarily like it.
In fact, few people who do clean do it for fun (although there are some, Aunt Cathy included).
Katie went on to say, “Little kids don’t like to clean, and dogs don’t like to clean.”
But clean they shall (the kids, not the dogs).
Other than Legos, I don’t remember having toys with so many pieces. Now, I can’t seem to buy a toy with less than five accessories.
I’m giving them the tools to make huge messes. They can’t understand why I have a problem when they do.
Case in point was the 100-piece food set. I thought it would be adorable to see them having little picnics. In reality, they haven’t had a single picnic and twice I’ve nearly fallen into a wall trying not to step on a brownie or fried egg.
Last week, Katie and Nikki each got a dress-up kit complete with 4-inch doll and 12 outfits with matching shoes. Do you have any idea how small shoes have to be to fit onto a miniature doll? And, most of the outfits were two pieces.
Thinking ahead, I made sure each had a case to keep all their miniature accessories in.
Did it work? No. The girls are constantly asking me where a skirt is or where they put the shoes that matched the pink hat.
Telling them that if they put their stuff away, they would be able to find it doesn’t work either. They believe that if I bought it for them, they should be able to play with it — in any manner they wish.
Food is equally difficult. There’s just no reasoning with children who don’t understand why they’re eating shredded wheat when there are Froot Loops in the cupboard. Or, why we’re having squash when they know good and well there’s corn on the cob in the freezer.
They feel I’m sending a mixed message when there are cookies in the cupboard and they’re eating granola.
You know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not so much that parents are sending mixed messages, but that children will hear what they want to hear and understand only as much as suits them.
Yes. I really do think that’s what it is.
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