Consequence and Connection by childgrower Annita Woz

caelsurfingfeetIt’s bedtime in the Woz house.  My kindergartener is exhausted but he doesn’t know it.  Without a clear understanding of how the calendar works, he has still come to the realization that the weekend is much shorter than a week of school time.  “That stinks!” he announces while standing on his pillow, stark naked, arms crossed in front of him and the biggest scowl that he can muster.

In four short weeks of formal education, he is fully aware that bedtime seems to come earlier on a school night and this has cut him off from his summertime comfort of playing late into the night with the neighbors in the back yard.

Worse, playing and growing is no longer his only priority. His new job involves listening all day to someone other than the leader of the Power Rangers. He is not pleased to hear that his new mission is very different than preschool which only required keeping his hands to himself.

He is stomping his feet on the pillow, and with various body parts waving in the chill fall air, he is telling me that he is not going to sleep, ever. He adds, “I’m not going to school tomorrow. And I’m not wearing those pajamas. And I’m not brushing my teeth. I didn’t get enough playing.  And I am not going to sleep until you let me watch television, right now.”

As his list of demands grows, so does his volume.

He is completely unaware that he doesn’t have on a stitch of clothing and he doesn’t see me trying not to grin as I realize that his limbs are all longer than they were just a year ago and my how he has really stretched in the year from age five to six. He looks so much like pictures of his dad when he was the same age that I’m distracted from his outburst enough to prevent me from scolding him for throwing a tantrum.

I’m in the room with him, and I want to make him put on the rejected pajama bottoms that I’m holding in my hand before I solve all his problems by taking away some of his allowance,  taking away the play date that he had scheduled for Friday,  and taking away the new light saber that he picked out over the weekend.

As my list of take-aways grows, so does my frustration. 

How long can a naked tantrum last when it is already 15 minutes past bedtime?

Into my head comes an idea that was planted by several books that I scoured for secrets as I became a new parent.  Into my head flies all the good and bad discipline that I learned from my parents.  I sort through all the lessons and skills that I have tried to learn from the model parents that I have met. 

I know that there is a time for consequences and there is a time for connecting. I also know that I want to be firm, effective, and I want to stop this kind of behavior tonight.

I don’t want to have Super Naked Fit Thrower running the show every evening at bedtime.

I also know what Grandma Dorothy would tell me to do if she were looking over my shoulder.  She would tell me to try what she might not have had time for when she was juggling farm chores, never ending bills and the raising of nine children. 

My little guy takes the tissue I offer and says, “I cannot stop these tears from coming out.” I tell him, “It stinks that you cannot play longer tonight. I wish you could play all night long.” 

I scoop his long legs and the birdlike wings of growing arms into my lap. He is wrapped in a warm blanket, able to act like the little boy that he still is, the same little guy that will still be living inside of him through those trying middle school years, I imagine.  I throw a blanket over his shaking shoulders and hug him.  I just hug him.

### for EP by Annita Woz, September 25, 2009.

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One Response

  1. so sweet.

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