Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Excellence in Parenting

Madeline has been behaving oddly. It coincides with my illness and the start of kindergarten so we assume either one or both are the cause. About a month ago she began confessing all the possible things she'd done wrong.

"Hun, I got paint on my pants." or "Hun, I dropped a booger on the floor."

At first it was sweet. And we thanked her for telling us. Then it became a little wearisome.

"Hon, I just spit out my pepper." and "Hun, I forgot to brush my back teeth."

It came to the point that confession was the only conversation she could have with us. So then we began to ignore it, trying not to fuel it. But that caused an escalation: purposefully doing things wrong and suggesting things she might do wrong in the future.

"Hun, I touched my ———— in public."

We knew it was a quest for attention but we weren't sure why she felt she wasn't getting attention. Perhaps it as a quest for control, because my illness and kindergarten are losses of control. But she just learned how to ride a bike and we hoped that being able to master that would give her a sense of control. We began asking her just to tell us what she'd done right. It was getting to the point where Cameron could not be heard over all her "sins".

This morning they were getting ready for summer class when Madeline said, "Hon, I breathed into a plastic bag."

Well, I had no choice. I had to whip out an Aesop's fable. So I proceeded to mangle that story of the boy who cried wolf. You should have seen our babies, eyes bulging, as I told them about little Emo (only name I could think of at the moment) who kept telling his dad he saw a wolf that wasn't there. But when I got to the end, I remembered why we never tell them old fables.

Madeline's eyes were all glossy. "Did the wolf eat him?"

"Um, well, I think it just scared him."

"I think it ate him." Cam nodded.

"No, it probably just scratched him."

"Do you think it bit him, Momma?"

"Oh, I don't know! The point is there's a moral to this story. And what do you think it is MADELINE???"

"That we should never, EVER, mess with wolves."

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