Boys….sometimes I just don’t understand them.
Of course, I do think that this makes sense. They possess a developing man-brain and I am definitely a woman. Being single, I just have stereotypes of what men are all about since I don’t have frequent contact, but I do know from my limited 6 years of experience with “little men” that their brains are very different from mine.
For instance, what might have prompted my 3-year-old to leave a pair of soiled underwear in the corner of the dining room this afternoon near a pile of wrapped and unwrapped Starbursts and with brown you-know-what smeared on the wall? I don’t know – but I can guess that this is how it played out: “Wow – mom brought that box with candy inside downstairs. That’s awesome! I think I’ll hide here in this corner and have a couple. Hmm, don’t like that one – spit, spit. Let’s try this one….oh, darn, pooped in my pants again. Hmph. I’ll just take them off here. Oh look, there’s a red candy. Munch, munch.”
My perspective: “Sigh, every night…every night I sweep the dining room floor….hmm, it’s the weekend…guess I should mop it too. Wonder what that poop smell is? There’s no diaper in the waste basket….and the little potty of Stephen’s behind the basement door is empty. Aw man, that high chair is pretty messy too…guess I’ll clean that as well. Where is that smell coming from?”….Sweep, sweep, sweep the corner – “NOAH!!” Head shaking…..
The perspective: It’s 8:30 pm – Noah should be in bed, but he is in the toy room playing. “Noah, why is there poop in the dining room?” “It was an accident,” he mumbles over and over again, partially looking at me, partially returning to his dino-attacks-car dramatization. I stand there staring at him thinking, “well, Good Mommy would enforce the natural consequence of the behavior and have him come downstairs and clean that all up. But that would involve spraying the area with Lysol – and spraying is actually one of his favorite things – so that’s not a punishment. Wait a minute? What am I thinking? There’s no way I’m going to have him clean the dining room – imagine poop smeared all over the place and then I’ll have to wash his hands 10 times before I deem him clean enough to get to bed….sigh, it’ll be much easier to do it myself.” I continue to stare at him. He continues to defend himself as having had an accident. “Boy,” I say to him, “you do NOT poop in your underwear, you poop in the potty (parenting tip: important to state simple rules!)….you will not have milk in the morning.” Yep – there it is, THE punishment for this 3-year-old – the loss of his glorious cup of milk.
Right – makes absolutely no sense. I know. But part of what I try to be conscious about in parenting is helping my boys become responsible for their actions. You make a mess, you clean it. You decide to act out and be aggressive to your brother, you have some time away from him. Tonight’s events made me remember a recent “share” by a friend of an article in the New Yorker about spoiling our children (naturally, I have several critiques of it – including that it’s pretty hard to compare our society today with a tribe in the Peruvian Amazon – but I get the point). I know I spoil mine more than I should. I know that they have more junk than they need. I know that I don’t hold them accountable as often as I could. But tonight…and maybe, just maybe another night too…I will draw the line at poop in the dining room…and give Noah a stern look and send him up to bed …with a pull-up and a kiss.