Childhood and the Art of War
I believe in the spank as a powerful deterrent in my arsenal of parental weaponry. It was proved to be a deterrent to me and has worked with Miss Peanut. I rarely ever have to pull it out, though, because I also employ "the count." You've all heard it, that voice brimming with frustration and incipient violence, slowly counting "One, TWO, THR..." I also rarely make it to three, because I am no joke after I get there. If I have to complete the word "three" then I lay on the spank. Miss Peanut learned that I mean business, and usually complies on "One."
Yesterday, however marked new territory in our little home war. I got to three. In public. Where there were spectators. I had tried something new, as I was in public, and perhaps this backfired. Instead of proceeding directly to the usual counting, I told her that if she didn't pick up the toy she had just petulantly thrown on the floor, then we would be leaving that toy at school (because that's where we were) overnight. Perhaps the absence of the usual consequence prompted the disobedience, but it must be said, I got to three. I picked up the toy and handed it to Peanut's teacher, who, bless him, was totally behind me.
Miss Peanut then deployed her largest weapon - the Meltdown. I have never before experienced a meltdown from Miss Peanut. I was completely flabbergasted. She cried, she screamed, she stomped her feet! What was this?! I had observed this behavior on occasion from some undisciplined hoydens in her class but never from my own child. So, taking a page from my father's book, I pulled out the stoniest face I had, and began barking orders. Peanut was marched out of the classroom, sans toy, still screeching at the top of her lungs. There was a brief sally in the hallway where she refused to budge an inch further and threatened to cry all night and not sleep a wink. Mustering my calm, I began with the calm ordered count:
One. Two. THREE.
Again, I got to three! What was going on? This time, I delivered the smack heard around the day-care center - one delivered smartly to the buttocks. I considered this battle won, when she pulled it out again on the way to the car. I asked her, did I have to count? There was no response. I counted again:
One. Two. Do you really want me to get to three? (pause) THREE.
Oh my GOD! She's proven impervious to the count! By that time the enemy had landed - total parental frustration! Without regard for the civilian bystanders, I delivered three smacks to the butt - the equivalent of an ICBM in my arsenal - and won the war.
All of the civilian bystanders, as it happens, were veterans of this particular war, and acknowledged my military superiority in the situation. Thank Heavens for that. Rarely does one understand the subtlety of these maneuvers unless one has lived through it.
Rapprochement and rebuilding occurred in the car, and Miss Peanut acknowledged that she had behaved like a brat, agreeing to the terms of surrender: she'd go without the toy that day, and we'd get it tomorrow. Today, we are going to retrieve the toy and spend some Mother-Daughter time together before she spends the night with her Grandparents (The General and Grandma).
Undoubtedly, this is only a cease-fire in our war. I can't wait until she hits puberty. God help us all.