Thursday, 15 November 2012

Stubborn Children

I am 'blessed' with stubborn children. I use the term 'blessed' because I know that one day this stubborn streak will be used for good. In the battlefield of parenting these 'determined' little ones, I keep my eyes fixed on that future prize.

Take today, for example. It was the age old 'I can't carry my schoolbag' whilst walking home from school. Unfortunately for Jonah, the Master of Stubborness Himself (older brother, Max) has already battled through this with me. This meant that I wasn't particularly fazed by his outbursts, his whining and his attempting to carry a rucksack and a coat on the tip of a pencil and then complaining that it was too heavy to carry.

Chatting with Max about his day (whilst the Bag Carrying Defier continued his protestations in my other ear), we attempted to ignore and stay cheerful.

"MUUUUM! You HAVE to carry this because I'm already carrying my clothes and my body!"

Well, the ignoring of this plea was the final straw.

"If you don't carry my bag and coat then I'm going to drop them on the floor."

"Ok," I replied, "I will not be carrying them for you so if you drop them on the floor then we will have to leave them there."

Along with a dramatic fall to the ground on the knees, the bag and coat were also dropped.

I stepped over them, continuing my conversation with Max, and we walked on.

"MUUUM! My bag and coat are on the floor!!"

"Ok. Well, you'll need to go and collect them then won't you?"

Behind us, a well meaning lady chased after us. "Excuse me! You've dropped a bag and coat!"

"Yes, I know. Thank you."

After walking several hundred metres up the road, Jonah, finally realising that I was not going to return to pick up his belongings, quickly ran and collected them. Sheepishly putting his coat and rucksack on properly, we managed to walk the rest of the way home without any more complaining.

When Max was younger and going through a particularly difficult 'warzone' stage, someone advised us that we needed to 'break his spirit'. I disagreed at the time, and still couldn't disagree more now. Our job isn't to break our stubborn children's spirits, it is to mould and shape them. I can't believe I am even writing this, but I am glad my children are stubborn and determined. Once they have decided on the path to follow, their determination will ensure that they stay on it. Our job is to steer them towards that path and teach them about making right choices.

So, the next time a battle commences about the wearing of a coat (actually, I've given up battling that one - I just let them face the consequences of the weather) or the carrying of a rucksack on the tip of a pencil, I need to remind myself of the positives of having stubborn children. Hmmmm.

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