I was just rereading my last few posts and I noticed how negative I am about Claire’s behavior. I would love to say, “It’s not that she’s bad, she’s just a bitch challenging. She’s not stubborn, she’s strong-willed.”
But the truth is that she CAN be bitchy, and she is one of the most stubborn people I know.
Take last night, for example. After finishing dinner, I started the bathwater, like I do almost every night. She was pretty stoked for bathtime, and I got her out of her clothes and in the tub in record time. It was about 15 minutes past the time that she usually takes a bath, but dinner lasted longer than I thought and I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
I had put her in the tub while the water was still running. She continued to stand up until I turned the water off. Fine. I don’t like it that she does it, but I’m picking my battles (see: the necessity of wearing pants, and: eating only crackers all day). The water turns off, she sits down. I mean, that’s what supposed to happen. But, last night, she didn’t sit down.
I asked her nicely. “Claire, please sit down.” Nothing. “Claire, bottom on the ground.” That one usually works. Still nothing. At this point she’s not looking at me, she’s not really DOING anything, she’s just standing. I remembered what I’d read over at Backpacking Dad’s place about discipline so I tried the Dog Voice.
“CLAIRE. SIT. DOWN.”
She jumped a little bit and started crying. I picked her up and placed her in the tub, bottom down. She screamed and tried to get up. I asked nicely again, “Claire, you need to put your bottom on the seat please. I don’t want you to fall.” Yeah, didn’t work. So, I quickly washed her hair and body while she was standing up, screaming.
She stopped crying for a second when I dumped the water on her head to wash off the soap. She looked at me and I asked her if she was finished. She did the sign for all done, so I pulled her out of the tub, not 2 minutes after I put her in, and wrapped a towel around her. She wouldn’t make eye contact. I opened the door to the bathroom (the part of the bathroom with the tub and toilet is seperated from the sinks by a door), but she didn’t follow me. I tried to pick her up, and her whole body went limp and she started screaming again.
“Fine. I’d just wait out here until you’re finished throwing a fit. I love you.” I told the little body sprawled on the floor. I turned toward the mirrors to do a quick count to ten, and heard the door shut behind me. I tried to open the door, but she was behind it, pushing it back closed, screaming the whole time. I let her close it, and counted again, to twenty this time. I opened the door, against her little will, and sat on the toilet. She had both hands on the tub, facing away from me, muttering to herself.
I thought back to Backpacking Dad’s trio of disciplinary techniques. Dog Voice, Outlast Mode was next. The problem was that she wasn’t ASKING for anything. She was just screaming. Last in line was the Telepathic Staredown. THIS would work. I KNEW it. I calmly held her arms and turned her toward me. She kept her eyes down. I lowered my body closer to the floor, trying to get her to make eye contact. She still wasn’t looking. I got lower, and lower, until I realized that I was practically laying on the ground. This couldn’t be very intimidating.
So, I did what I always do when she gets like this. I scooped her angry, writhing body up and put her on her changing table. I wrestled with her to put her diaper and pajamas on, calmly saying “Claire, now we need to put your pj’s on. I love you. Claire, I love you so much. I hope you have sweet dreams. I’ll see you tomorrow (actually, probably later tonight, since you refuse to sleep through the night) and your daddy and I love you.”
She cried the whole time. JR walked in, swept her up and put her to bed without so much as a whimper (from her, not him. I on the other hand was whimpering and rocking in the corner the whole time).
It’s hard to know what to do when disciplining her. I don’t think she understands cause and effect yet, but she needs to know that there are things she CAN’T do. Like stand in the tub. I’m getting good at ignoring the silly fits. But it’s the serious ones, the ones I don’t want to ignore that are slowly erasing my will to live.