What Happens When You Give Them Control

EK4A9876 Well, it's simple, really. They spill things. They mess things up. But they have a lot of fun doing it.






C absolutely does. Not. Want to play tee ball. Monday, Geoff was out of town, so I was alone with the kids when tee-ball practice came up. I absolutely did not want to fight that battle alone, but tried anyway.

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I tried encouragement. I tried positive reinforcement. I tried bribery! I tried threats. I tried holding him in place. I told him he could sit over there by the wall if he wanted, but I was going to cheer on the team, and he could come play when he was ready. (That, in the long run, in case you were wondering, was ultimately the winning strategy, of course. But how am I supposed to know? I'm just figuring this parent thing out as I go along, mostly making it up.) But this particular day, nothing was working.

The time before, he sat by the wall through the entire practice. Another game, he did nothing but sit by the wall and pick flowers. It seemed like a waste of time, but I think he may cave eventually. Probably on the last game day.

He was the one, after all, who said he wanted to play. Well, rewind that a minute. He'd just gotten a new baseball glove, and was asked, "Do you want to play tee ball?!"

Seriously, I shouldn't have to cajole him into playing a game or doing anything inherently fun. This is like at his birthday party where he said something to the effect of, if you give me a sugar doughnut, I'll blow out my birthday candles.


After two times of sitting on the wall and coming back to pretend he wanted to play and then whining and running away, I finally told him, this is it. In baseball, it's 3 strikes and you're out. This is your 3rd and last chance to play. If you don't play, we're leaving.

Amazingly, this worked. But only just long enough for G to wander over to the nearest infant in a car seat and bend his fingers back nearly touching the back of his hand. Yeouch! I got there just in time to stop her from really hurting him, and by the time I grabbed her hands and turned around to look for C, he had bolted clear across the field, through two other tee-ball games.

It was clear I could not handle this alone.

So we left.

I didn't know how to feel. I didn't know whether I should act angry or something (I wasn't), or just carry out what I said I'd do and move on. I ended up just getting us all in the car and living in the moment.

*What do we need, right now?*

Nothing clear came to me.

*What do we each need right now?*

That was more clear.

G needed water, C needed his explorer vest and a way to be in control and clear his mind, and I, well, I needed my camera.

We ditched the tee-ball scene, and my little flower-loving son got to skip along the path by the Messalonskee Stream.


So he'd won. Big deal, right?

Maybe it wasn't. But maybe it was...

It was stupid of me to make a consequence exactly the thing he wanted in the first place. But with no backup on the scene, I felt I had no choice. Engh, let it go. Pick your battles, Mama. You were outnumbered.

I'm not going to feel bad about it, even if he gives it up entirely! (Like preschool...) But again, it's only for now.

In 3 years, I'm sure this will seem minor. Kind of like now, our struggle over blowing bubbles when he was a baby seems insignificant, but 3 years ago, C's entire personality seemed to hang in the balance. (Ah, new motherhood.)

His whole life, C has hated bubbles.

Bubbles are never a calming thing at our house, for either child.

They both want control and *must has de bubble wand* or they are not happy. And by not happy, I mean fussing, stomping, screaming, and total refusal to chase bubbles. Refusal to even *SEE* the bubbles through angry eyes. Serisouly, they don't even look at the bubbles. They only see the wand in Mama's hand.

But this year, he's 4. I think he can handle it. Dunk and blow, just with a tempered degree of finesse for him to work out. He's not going to spill them. Well, maybe G will. And she did. But I didn't even care. I realized I can just Google a bubble recipe, maybe even remember to pick up some glycerin (wherever the heck you get that), and make some more.

So the next evening, we went out for some bubbles.














I have a distinct memory of blowing bubbles the first time by myself. My mom and I were having a playdate on our front porch with another little girl and her mom. Something about not blowing the bubbles in each others' eyes. I think somebody ended up crying. I don't think it was me crying. I guess I'm not a very good listener sometimes...

But you have to let them do things by themselves, even if it's annoying or messy. This was his year to do it.

And hers too. Because apparently, it's my year to give in.

After all, everybody has their own style.


So I guess the moral of the story is, when you give them control, they take it. And sometimes they give it back.

And by the way, C finally did come around about tee ball. Well, at least for one game. (As soon as Daddy got back.)


He made it!  He made it to first base!  (I missed getting a photo of the actual hit because I was just watching it; I think I was also mid-diaper wipe...)

Rounding the bases to second!

Got it!

Ooo, now let me check and make sure my feet are exaaaaactly where there need to be.

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My view...she's entertained by disassembling the diaper bag...again.

Then it was his turn in the outfield and everything went downhill from here.  A little coaching from Daddy...

But he loses interest.

He tries to negotiate his way off the field and still earn his ice cream.

We told him no dice.  He's gotta play.

He tried.  He really did.  It's just that clover is so much more interesting.

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Whoop! Time to bat again!

This time he makes it all the way to third!


He felt like such a big boy he even got to walk right next to the street without having to hold Daddy's hand.

And he did get his ice cream.  We took them out to Friendly's after it was over.  Then on the ride home we convinced them there was something magical in the sky; I don't remember what...they're looking around for it here.  It was a very silly ride home.  I'm also pretty sure singing was involved, and it might have been The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  Well, that's appropriate.