Motherhood comes with many firsts.
The first smile, the first tooth, the first bath, the first solid food, the first steps, first words,… All milestones in their own unique way, making us, mothers, balance precariously between anxiety for our offspring’s well-being and insane pride in our their accomplishments.
Those milestones are the good ones, the ones you celebrate, the ones you share with the world via Twitter, Facebook and which you Instagram.
But there are others firsts. The first fall down the stairs, the first time you completely freak out and yell – all too loudly, the first lipstick smashed into the mirror/sisters hair/carpet/all three simultaneously, the first time out. Those first ‘not-so-pleasant-behaviour’-moments.
We’ve had such a first a few weeks ago.
Subject of said first was n°1. Lord knows why but that child is grumpier then a female Grinch with PMS on Saturday mornings. You’d think she’d be happy: weekend, mommy and daddy are home, we can play, bake cookies! But no, she is pissed off for being stuck at home with her little sister and her parents instead of being at school where at least they have monkey bars to monkey around on! So Saturday-morning-tantrums are a near – weekly event at our house. Usually they don’t last long and they are not much worse than a regular sister-took-my-doll-tantrum.
But this Saturday was somehow different. The mood-thundercloud had decided to stay put and nothing would make it move. Nor Duplo, nor stories, nor cartoons where able to exorcize the morning-demon. Nothing helped. She sulked, whined, raged, kicked and howled over the tinniest little detail that was not right according to her high toddler standards. Normally I let her act it out or I try at least to be patient, but that morning things were somehow different. I was honestly completely and utterly fed up with her behaviour. And that is when I uttered those words for the very first time : “Go to your room and stay there until you are ready to behave! You are not going shopping with daddy this morning.”
The very first punishment.
It was the first time she had a privilege taken from her because of her behaviour. And it hit her hard. She loves to go shopping with daddy and her little sister. It is one of the best parts of her Saturday and Sunday. They take the double stroller and walk to the village, visit the baker and the butcher and then they come back. It is not much, it is a simple, everyday activity, buying bread and groceries, but for her it is one of those secret father-daughter moments.
And I took it from her. I took away something she loves to do because she was being an annoying bratty three year old. I don’t know why, something snapped all of a sudden. All I know is that I just couldn’t deal with her dramatics anymore and sending her to her room just felt right.
There was much crying. Much wailing and a complete and utter meltdown when she saw that I stuck to my guns and send of my husband and youngest alone. She stayed in her room a good half hour shrieking out her agony. And then she came down. The look on her face was one of complete disillusionment. She had fought with the weapons Mother Nature gave her and she had lost. She was furiously trying to understand what had just happened.
So I explained it to her. Step by step I explained why she had been send up to her room, why I felt that she should be punished, what had gotten her in this situation. I told her she was a very good girl most of the time, a fantastic big sister, that I loved her very much, but that the way in which she had been acting was completely and utterly unacceptable.
She nodded. We hugged and went upstairs to wreck some havoc in daddy’s study with stickers and glitter. Little sister and daddy came home and there was no spite between the sisters. All was well and our Saturday rolled on rather merrily.
Did she understand you ask? Yes, she did. The proof came next Friday when she started her faux-whining-floor-stomping-routine again. I asked her if she remembered last week, when she was send up to her room and wasn’t allowed to go shopping with daddy and would she like that to happen again? No? Then stop it right now kid, mommy means business.
And she stopped.
Lesson learned. A first.