retro parenting

Sixteen years of public and private education and I’ve learned more from my four-year-old daughter (happy birthday baby!) than any professor could have possibly curriculumed.

Here’s the thing about raising kids: you can get an easy child. In many cases having one kid is a safe bet; if we’d stopped with Harrison (8) my life would be such a simple old thing. Sure Rex and Harrison have handed me their fair share of challenges, but I’ve rarely dealt with head pounding exasperation from either of them.

Then June materialized. I once heard a man say that easy kids are like taking Parenting 101. June is worthy of a thesis paper. Why? Because she’s just plain smarter than we are and she knows it.

For example, the other day at my girlfriend’s house June and her friend were playing the game Memory. She wanted to keep a particularly pretty flowered pair at the end of the first match, but my friend made her add the two tiles to the pile. Then, with all the sneak of a Las Vegas dealer my girlfriend thoroughly mixed them into the game while June sat silently and watched her, never blinking.

When my friend was absolutely certain there was no way June could know where the two tiles were she started the second match. June went first.

With a little gleam in her eye and a tiny smile playing at the corners of her mouth, that girl reached out and instantly plucked the two matching tiles my friend had so carefully tried to mix into the bunch.

See what I mean? Scary smart.

Years ago I took a six week Love and Logic training course ┬áprovided by our local school. The premise of the Love and Logic parenting method is simple: let the consequences do the teaching. If you don’t eat your dinner you go to bed hungry. Novel, I know.

Once you get the hang of it and your kids begin to understand that their negative actions will have logical negative reactions, they are supposed to start making good choices out of intelligence, not fear.

It’s worked great with my boys. They know that if you are still in your pajamas when the car leaves in the morning you’re out of luck. This has only happened one time to one kid.

And then June came along. It’s not that my method isn’t working on her, it’s that she’s decided to double the bet and throw it back to me.

For example, I say, “Junie, if you leave all your beads on the carpet they’re going to get vacuumed up. Please put them away so you don’t lose them.” However, instead of recognizing the need to put her beads away she instead looks at me and says, “Fine. But if you vacuum up my beads then I’m going to throw your vacuum out the window,” with the same patient look that I had on my face.

Apparently what I think is logical parenting is being processed as logical threatening. I’ll admit there are times when my consequence storeroom is low on ideas and I resort to less logical options like,”If you throw your boots at my head I’ll take away your birthday,” that kind of thing.

So for now, I am done with logical reasoning where my girl is concerned. As of this morning, and per my mother’s suggestion, I have decided to revisit some age old retro-parenting methods when dealing with June. From now on when she asks why I want her to do something, I’m simply going to tell her what my mom told me ten million times:┬áBecause I’m The Mother. That’s why.