Up until two and a half years ago, I thought I knew what stubborn was. I could recognize that stony way a person sets their jaw or digs in their heels. I knew stubborn. I was stubborn. But I had never really borne the brunt of stubborn. I was so blissfully ignorant.
Because two and a half years ago, I met Matthew. And I learned how deep stubborn can run.
I could list the ways that his stubbornness has tormented me to my core, but I think that I can just tell you our current situation and you will get the gist.
Today, when we got home from school and running errands, he announced that he didn’t want to carry his backpack inside.
Me: Matthew, I have to carry in the groceries. I am not going to carry your backpack in.
Matthew: I can’t dooooooo it. I don’t want to.
Me: Yes, you can. You carry it every day. I’m am not carrying it for you.
I made 3 trips from the car to the house, bringing in groceries, and the entire time he stood in the van. Adamant that he would not carry in his backpack.
Each trip I would tell him–you need to obey me. Pick up your backpack and let’s go.
And each time, he would stare ahead defiantly.
So I made a decision. I scooped him up and set him down in the backyard. I handed him a mop bucket and closed the fence.
You will not come back in the house until you fill this bucket with pinecones. Period.
(Sidenote–the weather here is sunny and beautiful)
He could have been done with this task in less than 5 minutes. Easily. But no. He pouted. Then he screamed. Then he shrieked. Then he sat and stared into space.
30 minutes later, we had to leave to take some samples to Isaac’s doctor. I loaded him up in the car and told him that he would immediately go back to the yard when we got home.
We have now been home for almost an hour and he is still out there. Again with the crying, the pouting, but now you can add in throwing dirt in the air, digging in the ground with a stick, and filling his new shoes with dirt.
My blood is boiling. Literally boiling.
It has reached the point where I refuse to go back out there until Jason gets home. I do not trust what may come out of my mouth!
The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever gotten is this: Choose your battles. But you had better make sure you win every battle you choose. This goes quadruple for kids who come from an attachment-challenged background. He needs to know that I MEAN what I say.
And I told him that he wasn’t coming back inside until that bucket was full.
Well, my invisible mommy friends, I chose this battle. And mark my words–I will win it. If I have to serve him dinner on the porch. If he has to spend every minute of his at-home time in the yard for the next 6 weeks, the bucket will be full of pine cones.
Because, as he is about to learn, I have a bit of a stubborn streak of my own.