Catherine from Everything is Under Control has a post about how it would seem that older children – elementary aged in this case – are a bit harder to maintain. As the parent to an elementary aged child, if I were to be brief, I would shout, “Amen, Sister!”
If my daughter tries to run away when it’s time to get dressed after her bath, it only takes me a couple of steps before I scoop her up, take her to her room, and while it may be like trying to stuff a cat in a sock, she’s quickly dressed.
An older child, on the other hand, while he may not run from you (but don’t bet on it), he will most certainly try to take you down in an argument of nonsense.
Parent: “It’s time for a bath.”
Patient Parent: “You didn’t have one last night and you stink.” (My god, little boys really DO stink!)
Belligerent Child: “I had one last night.”
Patience-Waning Parent: “No, you didn’t.”
Obnoxious Child: “Yes, I did. YOU just don’t remember. I DO!”
Frazzled Parent: “I know for a fact, you did NOT have a bath. Get going before I fill the tub with cold water and throw you in that!”
It seems that many arguments were ending with the threat of bodily discomfort, including my husband’s ultimate threat: “…before I spank your butt!” While I’m not against spanking, we haven’t spanked in our house in a couple years now, at least since we had so many incidents of our son not being able to keep his hands to himself at school. Can’t hardly tell him to control himself if we can’t, right?
Frankly, I don’t see how the arguing will improve as my son gets older. It’s not like he’ll grow stupid and won’t be able to figure out that you did indeed buy Double-Stuff Oreos because he can see the crumbs on your face whereas now he might believe that you wiped your face after messing with some potting soil; or that you really don’t have any money in the bank and you can’t afford the set of Bakugans/Pokemons/Stupidkans cards he found at the Target check-out counter while buying aforementioned Oreo cookies in Halloween Orange.
Just heed what Catherine and I are telling you. If your baby isn’t sleeping well, or not eating well, or they refuse sippy cups, or even as toddlers won’t dress themselves, or still suck their thumbs, or won’t brush their teeth…oh, honey, I would give anything for you to be able to experience that child in 6 or 7 years for just a day so you can know that the ages infant to four are really just walks in the park.
So when I see a post from someone who is struggling with their younger child and they ask, “It’ll get better, right? It has to! (they add – almost convincingly)” I say, yes, because whatever you are dealing with DOES indeed get better. Breath a sigh of relief, wipe your brow, but make sure to learn the fine art of How to Influence Your Adolescent Child by occasionally getting into an argument with a house plant, the random rock or even the cat. While it probably won’t help, it can’t hurt to act a little crazy around your child. He or she may be less likely to get into a war of words with you later.