Friday, July 23, 2010
I’ve discovered a funny little phenomenon. It goes something like this:
bug will be happily drinking milk from his sippy cup. I will be happily drinking my forbidden Pepsi, that I should avoid - mostly due to calories - but simply cannot resist. bug, upon seeing my obviously different and MUCH BETTER drink, will - inevitably and unavoidably - want it.
“I need that.” he will state with conviction.
“No, you don’t.” I will respond, with equal conviction.
“I do.” he will retort.
“No, you have your own cup.” I will try to distract him.
“I will share mommy’s.” He tells me. (he doesn’t quite grasp the idea of sharing - you know, that you don’t decide when and what OTHER people will share with you, only what YOU share with OTHERs...)
And finally I do it. I pull out the big guns. I fib.
“This is ucky, bug. You won’t like it.”
And he buys it. I don’t feel bad. I’m only trying to be a good mom here. It is ucky for him. And maybe he WOULD like it, but I’m only saving him from years of cavities, unnecessary caloric intake, caffeine headaches, and sugar comas. Plus, he doesn’t seem to think he’s missing out on something. If I say it’s ucky, it’s suddenly very undesirable.
Similarly, bug was playing at my sister IL’s house. She’d given him some chocolate milk - a rare treat. And he loved it. Until she got out her “uncoffee” coffee (you know, the substitute). Then he suddenly didn’t love it, he loved hers. He had to have it. It was the holy grail of beverages. “I want some!” he pled. I was about to start in with the no, you don’t, it’s only for grown-ups, you have your own already... blah blah blah tactics when sister smoothly replies, “It’s the same as yours.”
I raised my eyebrows. Really? Would he bite? Would he be satisfied? Would he believe her?
He looked at his cup. He looked at hers - steaming and warm. He looked back at his cup. Taking a sip he said, “Mmmmm. Coffee!”
Not that I encourage teaching my children to fib. I like to think of this as the power of suggestion. It’s the same mechanism I use late at night when bug is scared and doesn’t want to go to bed. Will his “dino buddy” that you pull to play music really keep him safe? No. But he likes feeling as if all he has to do is pull this dinosaur and everything will be ok. And if that helps him sleep better, well, so sue me for lying to my kid.
This morning I was getting the kiddos dressed and had to run upstairs for a minute. In that minute, the world obviously ended - or mini thought so. The second I was lost from view, she began to whimper. It turned into a whine. Then a wail. And pretty soon she was howling and screaming with a sizable tantrum of separation anxiety.
Although I knew she was ok, I also knew that she did not agree. To her, it was NOT ok. I walked back downstairs to see bug sitting by her, patting her arm, saying “You’re ok, you’re ok, you’re ok...” Over and over. Clearly, she was NOT ok. But bug insisted on telling her that she was. “Whatsa matter?” He asked her. Finally he placed her favorite toy - her prized dolly - in front of her. “See. You’re ok.” And suddenly she was.
bug is beginning to use my tactics. Oh, maybe it’s still on a subconscious level, but he knows. He knows how mighty the power of suggestion can be. Mention to someone something bug is afraid of and he automatically cowers in terror. Kiss his owie and tell him it’s all better and he’ll stop crying. Tell him the really annoying noisy toy he wants to play with is tired and needs to take a nap, in a box, far away, and he gives it to you without argument. Convince him the chicken in his sandwich is really cheese and he’ll gobble it down.
The power of suggestion. It’s one of the most important tools in your Mommy tool belt. It’s strapped on right there, in between “reverse psychology” and “humor”. The trick is to remember to use this power for good, not evil.