Never Give in to The Baby

The baby is ten. I’ve been parenting for over 18 years now, been through all the nonsense and the poop and the puke, and I’m down to one last, not-a-teenager baby.

She’s ten.

Here’s the problem with being the baby of four kids. When three of the four kids DON’T cry and drool, they DON’T want someone to make them breakfast and lunch every day, they DON’T still leave Calico Critter crap on the ground for me to step on barefoot, it’s hard to remember that everyone was ten once. She’s just the last ten-year-old.

This morning during scripture study Georgia openly rolled her eyes at us. Like, over-exaggerated, I’ve-been-watching-too-much-disney-channel eye rolling. I gave her a chance to apologize. She did, WHILE ROLLING HER EYES AGAIN. So she got a Responsibility Chore.

This is a little parenting technique my sister Jenny taught me many moons ago. When a kid screws up, then they continue to screw up, you give them a Responsibility Chore. These are the chores mothers HATE to do. Things like scrubbing out all trash cans in the house, or wiping down all the baseboards. If the kid protests, they get a second chore. Then a third, and so on, until they hush their reckless mouth and get to work.

Georgia drew the “clean out under the kitchen sink” card–it’s a doozy. So she did what all babies do best. She cried.

And cried and cried and drooled and puddled and cried some more.

So I gave her a second cupboard, and then a third. Finally she stopped begging to be released from her responsibility and resorted to good old, “Everybody HATES me!” weeping while she clawed the flotsam out from under the detestable kitchen sink. I set a timer for ten minutes to come and check.

It has been 58 minutes and she is finally finished with cupboard #1. I haven’t gone toe to toe like this with her for a while (obviously). I literally had to go stand in the garage and blast my music at one point so I wouldn’t yell at her for slobbering all over my kitchen floor and NOT working. When I finally went in and praised her seven minutes ago, then pointed out her NEXT cupboard, the water works started again. I thought I was going to lose my mind.

However, I want you to know that she is quietly cleaning cupboard number two and there appears to be no additional crying coming from that room. I actually hear her reorganizing the pots and pans–and she isn’t throwing them–

UPDATE – SHE JUST CAME IN AND APOLOGIZED FOR BEING RUDE AND HUGGED ME. Then she asked if she could please not do the third cupboardā€¦

This is where we often fail. We give in. They’re cute. They did kind of good there. They’re…the baby.

Don’t give in to the baby.

I lovingly walked into the kitchen, inspected her work, told her she’s done great, and pointed to the third cupboard. “One more sister, you’ll be done in five minutes!” She nodded at me, and headed back to work. With. No. Tears.

Parents, Romans, countrymen, I am here to remind us all that the baby needs to be parented as well. And my old techniques? The ones I kind of forgot because my older kids are mostly great? They still get the job done.

Don’t give in to the baby. Don’t EVER give in to the baby.

Sneak peak at my man, also my baby girl is four!

Okay, there might be moments when I want to spit in his eye, but this morning before he left for work wasn’t one of them.

I took this picture super sneaky like and am posting it with the hope that he will fail to check my blog this week. Frankly, he lives in fear that I’m going to write about him and avoids this place like the plague so I’m feeling pretty safe. And yes, it’s probably stupid of me to post this picture because someone could do something to us. I don’t know what that something might be so I’ve decided to take my chances.

He can’t help being hot and I can’t help documenting it.

Also I posted it super small to throw off the terrorists.

In other monumental news, June turned four yesterday. She has been at least 79% (okay, maybe 72%) wonderful lately and I’m loving my darling daughter. She’s so much like me sometimes it’s frightening.

The girl is an absolute fashionista. I’ll be honest, I have to edit her outfits on a daily basis but even so, I’m amazed at her style sense. Sometimes she hits it right on the head. Here’s one she put together on the cruise that was so cute I had to catch a picture.

Fashion is important to June. I have no idea where she gets it. When she was first starting to have an opinion about what she wore (three years ago) I kept a tight grip on the key to her closet. Heaven forbid she show up at a function in something less than totally put together, it was bad enough that her hair was constantly escaping and her face was routinely sticky.

But one day my girlfriend Tricia carefully stepped in and gave me a little advice. She’s got three girls and somewhere along the way decided that they needed to have a little wardrobe agency.

Take her middle daughter for example. When Molly was June’s age her outfits were extremely interesting. They had accessories and layers and enough color to please both Barnum and Bailey.

But instead of cutting her out of the dressing process, Tricia simply edited her. Yes you can wear that polka dot skirt. No you cannot wear the plaid tights with Cinderella slippers under it.

The thing is, four years later Molly not only has fantastic style sense but she’s got her ownĀ fantastic style sense. It wasn’t something her mother imposed on her. The kid has a quiet confidence that I absolutely love. She knows who she is.

I want my daughters to grow up trusting their judgement and the only way to make that happen is to let them have a say in how they present themselves to the world. Yes, it’s only clothing, and sure, I’m probably fostering vanity, but I’m also encouraging June to make good, modest choices in her dress. She’s only four but already she understands the difference between modest and appropriate and immodest and trashy.

Okay, mostly she understands the trashy bit but there are definitely days when I wonder.

So happy birthday my darling girl. Even if you do like to wear enough barrettes in your hair to rival a Russian gymnast, I still love your style and can’t wait to see who you shape up to be someday.

As long as you do it from the clearance racks, I’m game.

When Jesus can’t convince them, throw some marshmallows on top.

I’m quickly realizing that Harrison (8) is an easy child. He has never given us a problem at school, preschool, or church, knows how to speak the local language without any difficulties, and does not wet his pants.

I love that kid.

As for the rest of them, I think fate was trying to trick us into this parenting business and yesterday I felt like a big fat failure.

June has been doing great at preschool–until this week. I went in yesterday and the poor teachers were beside themselves with frustration. Having lived with June for over three years now, I know that there are moments when I would rather stick my head in the toilet and give myself a swirlie than deal with all her strength and willpower. One Two Three Try Not To Kill Her seems to be the method that works best around here.

This sudden burst of bad behavior has come as a total shock to her teachers. She’s eating puzzle pieces and throwing the game boards around the room, refusing to listen to anything and wreaking havoc on anyone and everyone. It’s bad, and the language barrier doesn’t help.

The thing is, I know what’s wrong with her, but I have no idea how to fix it.

Last week June came home and started telling me that one of the little girls in her class won’t play with her. She loves this little girl, she wants to be friends with this little girl, but this little girl has suddenly decided that she no longer wants to play with June, she wants to play with someone else.

Honestly, my daughter is three. Do we really have to start in on the little girl drama this early?

I know she’s acting out because she wants this little girl to pay attention to her, but she isn’t old enough to realize that this kind of behavior isn’t going to win her anyone’s friendship. She thinks she’s being funny and silly to the other kids.

I stood there yesterday and listened to the laundry list of her misdeeds, feeling red in the face and embarrassed to have created such a little beast. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes like a thousand hot little needles; can’t these kids do anything right in the German schools? What am I doing wrong here?

I assured the teachers that I understand better than anyone just how difficult she can be, and told them I wouldn’t bring her back. I think they were expecting me to argue with them on her behalf, because they got much nicer once I offered to keep her away (also all the stupid tears probably made them think I’m a big ninny who could use some outside help, which is right). They insisted I bring her back every day, that we would work on it.

After talking with my neighbor (who is smart and wise and wonderful), I think I’ve got a plan. Today June only gets to go to school for two hours. I am taking in a big bag of marshmallows and a small empty container. Every time she is good, she gets a marshmallow in the jar. At the end of the day, she can eat her earned marshmallows in the car.

I also told her this morning that the only person who matters is Jesus, but she looked at me like I’m some kind of idiot who knows nothing about playing princess. I guess that lecture doesn’t hold as much weight when you’re three. Maybe next time I’ll throw Jesus and Santa in together and see if it makes more sense.