Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Emotional manipulation

Many years ago, my boss expressed the opinion that you have to become very devious when you're a parent to find ever more cunning ways to outwit your children. I thought at the time he had a rather unpleasant and cynical attitude to his rather delightful small children.

Now I have a child and I realise how right he was.

After LittleBear's less-than-stellar initial introduction to sleeping in a BigBoyBed and not wearing a nappy to bed, BigBear and I introduced a sticker chart (or two) for staying in bed and for keeping his pull-ups dry. A week later and there are seven stars on each chart, no climbing out of bed in the night, and a week of dry nights. He even went to bed and stayed there when we left him with GrannyBear for the afternoon and evening (Woohoo!) LittleBear will do almost anything for a sticker. Except eat chicken. We even offered him two stickers if he'd try some roast chicken and it still didn't work. Hmmm, turns out even LittleBear has limits. Never mind. Given a choice between him staying in bed when put there or eating chicken, I'll choose bed any day.

If a sticker won't work, there's always the option of appealing to his sense of competition. LittleBear is perhaps the most insanely competitive person I have ever known. And I know me. Everything he does or says or thinks must be faster, higher, bigger, fiercer, taller or generally better than anyone else. He has recently invented the "Mantet Chompet Shark", which is bigger than a Blue Whale, fiercer than a Killer Whale, scaried than an Alligator and faster than a Cheetah. And he's the only person who's ever seen one.

If we have two identical sticks, LittleBear's is longer.

If we have two identical "hopsett knives" (an ice-cube tray. No, I don't know either) then his is sharper.

If we have two identical chocolates, his is larger.

If we have two identical cuddly seals, his swims faster.

You get the idea.

So, in the morning, I could have five minutes of LittleBear throwing himself on the floor and screaming that he doesn't want to get dressed and he doesn't like me and doesn't want to live here and he will never, ever, ever be allowed to read a story in bed ever, ever, ever again because I'm mean to him. Or I could ask him who he thinks can get dressed faster, him or Daddy. OK, so Daddy has to then put up with the gloating from LittleBear as he dances around gleefully telling his Daddy "I'm faster than you!" but I figure that's a small price for BigBear to pay.

In the evening, I could have five (or more) minutes of LittleBear throwing himself on the floor and screaming that he doesn't want to have a bath and he doesn't like me etc etc, or we could race to the bathroom to run the bath, race upstairs to close his curtains, race downstairs to get to the toothbrush first, and I can live with losing those races if it means I can get him clean.

I may be storing up trouble here, as one of these days LittleBear is going to have to accept not being the fastest or best at something, but just for now, if it means I can get him washed, dressed, fed, tooth-brushed, in the car, or wherever I need him to be by challenging him to a competition, I'll take what I can get.

Now I just have to start working on what my next cunning plan will be to get my own way... you have to start early to outwit these little blighters...

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