Parenting is hard. I'll be the first to admit, last year was pretty rough at times. Three is a hard age, much harder than the first two years prior for sure. Looking back, I can partly attribute that to having K in the home with us, and A being slightly confused about who to listen to when one person is with her all day and the other person comes and goes. It's not entirely the case either, as nothing usually is, because lets face it, a three year old is just that, three. We have to be careful about what we expect from them as it is very easy to forget that they are only three.
With K being gone things are different. We have a more settled routine, and A is four and a half now. She rarely gives us trouble. She is not perfect, of course, but there haven't been any tough moments that I can recall lately.
Being a product of a divorced and abusive childhood, I've always sworn I wouldn't go down that path. I think sometimes, being from this type of childhood, people parent in two extremes: either continuing the cycle or being way too nice and trying to be a friend more than a parent. I like to think I try to stick down the middle. I have learned what-not-to-do, but at the same time, I want her to know there are rules and boundaries in life.
It is hard though, when trying to give punishment to a child for their actions, not to second guess yourself. I'm constantly thinking when I punish her for something "Am I being a hard ass?" "Is she going to remember this like I remember my dad being me over green beans?" "Will she be able to recall the color of the wall and carpet from sitting in time out, like I can recall the wall paper and carpet from my trips there?" I don't really think she is going to remember back talking or throwing things over the banister and hitting someone on the head and having to sit in time out for four minutes when she is twenty-five, but still.
I woke up sick this morning and spent the day dropping off and picking up NYEBoy and A, so when I got home this evening, I crashed. My legs hurt. My chest hurt. I needed a nap like no other. I asked NYEBoy to get A dinner for me while I took a nap, and as she walked out of the room he asked her what she wanted. Her response was simple, "Um, cereal is just fine." I nodded off as soon as they walked out of the room. A little bit later, A asked if she could have a fruit roll up. I asked her if she had her dinner, and she said no because NYEBoy didn't get her anything. Annoyed, I called him to come upstairs. I asked him why he didn't feed her dinner. He told me had fed her cereal, and then A piped up and said "Yeah, he gave me cereal but I didn't want it." I stopped her right there and told her I heard him ask her what she wanted, and she told him she wanted cereal. I asked her if she ate it, she nodded yes. I made her apologize to her uncle for lying about him and promptly got her ready for bed-early.
You would have thought I crushed her world. She flopped on the bed like a two year old saying she didn't mean to lie. I told her I was sorry she was going to bed early, but that she chose to lie, and we don't lie in this household. If you are caught in a lie, you are going to be punished for it. I don't want a kid growing up thinking it's okay to lie to people or about people. She begged for another chance, but I knew this was my chance. I knew if I stuck to my guns, she would probably be more likely to learn from her mistake.
She only cried for a few minutes, but I felt like an asshole. I know the punishment fitted the crime so to speak. I know it was reasonable, but damn it, it really sucks sometimes. I did hug her and tell her I loved her before she went to bed, though.
It is hard being a kid, but it is even harder being a parent.