Every parent has found themselves in a power struggle with their kids. Sometimes it’s over when to go to bed, what to wear to school, not being able to do something before their room is clean/they brush their teeth/set the table, not being able to have a bowl of sprinkles for breakfast and a cupcake for dinner.
The parent draws the line. The kid digs their heels in. You are at a standstill. Sometimes ending in a win/win, sometimes ending with the parent at their wits end and the child in tears.
Yeah, it happens.
For me, the power struggle was with a party hat.
That’s right, a party hat. The cone shaped birthday party hat with the elastic that goes under your chin. That kind of party hat.
Having a birthday hat means we had a really fun day at a birthday party, including a lot of cake. Naps and quiet times were missed. Fuses were short. Patience was thin. Ability to tolerate anything that revolved any type of effort was at 0%.
And let’s not even talk about how the kids were doing.
Enter the party hat. Mahlie had brought a few hats home and she came up to me and asked me to put it on for her.
“Oh Sweets, you can put that hat on yourself!”
“No I caaaaan’t….It’s toooo haaaard!” This is paired with dropping down onto her knees and burying her head into the couch.
“Just let me see you try. C’mon.”
“Noooo….just do it for me!” she whines, flailing her arms and legs as she rolls about on the floor.
That is a lot of drama over a party hat. I should just put it on for her and we’ll all move on with our afternoon, right?
Except that is not what I did.
“Sweets, why don’t you try yourself first.”
Enter spawn of evil, red face, fists clenched at side, speaking in a voice I can only imagine came from the bowels of somewhere unpleasant: “I already TRIED in the OFFICE like A MILLION TIMES, you JUST DIDN”T SEE ME!!!!”, fists pounding the sides of her angry, angry body.
Okay, let’s just get that hat on her and end this angry little tirade.
Nope. Didn’t happen. Instead:
“Well, how about you try one more time with me and I will help if you can’t do it.”
Well, that about did it. She took her little hand and whacked that party hat clear across the room.
“That’s it, party hat is finished and you need to go to your room.”
And that is how my daughter ended up in time out for not being able to put on a party hat.
Worst. Mom. Ever.
Except here’s the thing. It’s not really about the party hat. It is about me knowing my child and KNOWING she can put that damn party hat on by herself.
I know, I know, I know- perhaps not the time to teach a lesson on persistence and never giving up, when one is low on reserves of energy and coping skills.
Around 5 minutes after her time out was finished, kisses and hugs had been given and all was forgiven, Sweets is skipping around the kitchen, smiling from ear to ear.
She keeps coming into the room, skipping around with a huge smile on her face.
Finally I notice: She’s wearing the party hat. The party hat she put on all by herself. Which is why she had the huge grin. Which made me have a huge grin.
Because really, it was about a lot more than just a party hat.
Have a great crazy day!