It's been a rough couple of days with the Brownies I'll admit. The previous statement isn't a true barometer of what my boys are compared to other boys, but how they normally behave in our every day life. With Big Brownie about to turn 5 and Little Brownie hitting his 3 1/2 year stride, I believe that we are in the season of action and reaction. I believe they want and need to test the waters. I also believe and know that Daddy Brown and I, as their parents, are called to react and discipline accordingly.
A perfect example of the trials that I'm facing...Well, after repeatedly asking Little Brownie to wash his hands yesterday afternoon before dinner, I hear Big Brownie giggling at him just outside the bathroom door. When I walk over to see what is so funny, Little Brownie is washing his hands...IN THE TOILET. Yep, I turned green, wanted to scream...and I may have even thrown up a little bit in my mouth. What on the planet earth, made him think that was an acceptable thing to do? And then this morning, after asking him to brush his teeth, I found him using his expensive toothbrush to clean the sink. I walked past Daddy Brown shaking my head and said, "Can you please take this one for me?" I walk upstairs to take some deep breathes. Upon returning to the seen of infraction, Daddy Brown is shaking his head at me. He said, "I just experienced "Parent Fail'! I told him that if he used his toothbrush for something other than brushing his teeth, we would throw his cool transformer toothbrush away and get him a plain toothbrush." As Little Brownie thought about this ultimatum, he replied, "What kind of plain toothbrush?" Daddy Brown shows him my plain Oral-B toothbrush and says, "You'll get a plain toothbrush just like Mommy's". Little Brownie says, "Oh that is just the kind of toothbrush I wanted!"
So, after an emergency conference with my mom this morning for some reinforcing advice, I pulled Little Brownie aside this afternoon. I wanted him to know that this behavior is a choice and if he continued to make these choices, he needed to understand what the consequences would be. So I asked him to sit with me on the couch and I recalled these and a few other events. As I began, his first response was, "Mom, I don't want a consequence. I'm so very sorry and I won't do it again"...as he musters up his best give me a hug face. But I resisted this tactic! I simply said, "The toilet is a place to go pee pee and poo poo. The next time you decide you need to wash your hands in the toilet, I'm going to invite your brother to come in and pee on your hands." His eyes got a little wider and the hug me face when to...I can't believe my ears. I further explained, "And, if you choose to clean the sink with your toothbrush, I'll be happy to add cleaning the sink with a toothbrush to your daily responsibility chart". He looked at me with utter disbelief and said, "I don't want brother to pee on my hands, and I don't want to clean the sink every day with my toothbrush! I'm sorry and please forgive me."
As the night progressed, I talked with Big Brownie about his outbursts when he gets a small boo-boo or when his feelings get hurt. I explained that when he turns 5 next month, comes a different way of doing things. We talked about taking responsibility for his actions and trying to soothe himself when he is hurt as opposed to crying. To do a self assessment of his injury to determine if it is critical enough to even warrant coming to me. He seems to understand although I know it will take a while to catch on completely. One of the big things we talked about was just being a responsible member of our family. That he is getting to the age that I should not have to tell him to do certain things. He should just know and understand what his responsibilities to our family and home are. One of them being a good example for his younger brother. For him, when speaking to Little Brownie and even teaching Little Brownie to make certain it is in a respectful way.
As I was getting ready to prepare supper tonight, Big Brownie comes in and says, "Mom, can I help you make dinner?" I said, "Sure, as a matter a fact, I'd like for you to go into the refrigerator and decide what we are going to have." His face lit up and he said, "Can I make dinner for our family tonight?" With a few stipulations that included, no use of the oven or stove, I agreed. Little Brownie came running in and said, "I want to help!" Big Brownie looked at me...wanting, even willing me to say no. I said, "Well, I tell you what, your brother is going to make supper tonight, but you can be his assistant. You have to follow his directions or you cannot participate. Do you agree to these terms?" Little Brownie looked at me and with a swift answer, "YES MA'AM!" So with the limitation of basically the microwave, they discussed some options. Finally they decided on a Mexican meal. Microwave Cheese Quesadilla. After assembling all the ingredients and a LONG fearful discussion about microwave safety, the boys went to work. I have to say, Microwave Cheese Quesadilla's from my boys was the best 5 star meal I've had in a while. Well, I wouldn't go quite that far, however, they worked well together. They both planned, they both listened and reacted, and they both implemented. It turned out to be a blissful evening.
So...Happy Nueve de Mayo!