Me: “Lizzie, please turn off the television. Your movie is over.”
Lizzie: “I don’t want to.”
Me: “I know you don’t want to, but you must obey me. Too much tv will make you feel icky.”
Lizzie: “I want to watch Cinderella, uh-huh?”
I believe this new expression of hers is a reflection of her flexing her brain and coming into her own self, apart from her mother. It starts so young doesn’t it? But she is learning how to think for herself, how to decide what her desires are in life and communicate them with me.
Unfortunately those wants of hers are not always beneficial and as un-enjoyable as obeying me is, she must do it.
And I have to admit that when I am the most exhausted and can’t find the energy to have another detailed conversation about why my way is the correct one, I let my annoyance and frustration show in the tone (and volume) of my voice. A Bible verse always creeps into my head at these times: “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks insult.” (Proverbs 12:16) Yes, at these times I feel angry that she isn’t just obeying me because I am her mother.
But she is a very intelligent little girl and has to understand the entire situation. She does respect and honor me. Once I verify her feelings and communicate to her that I understand how badly she wants to push the tiny cart through the store, but we are only going in for 3 items and it will take too long, then wait for her cries of disappointment to subside, she is a pleasant and obedient little girl again.
When I feel annoyed and frustrated that she doesn’t immediately obey but seeks to tell me her wants first I need to calm down and be patient. Most of the time telling her why she must obey me (“if you don’t wear your seat belt you’ll go bang! bang! boom! on the ground!”) solves the issue. Other times, this doesn’t work and stating the consequence works. Then finally, following through. If I am consistent in following through with the consequence then the warnings are more effective.
Sometimes I dream of Lizzie being obedient without questioning it. And right now she is only 3 years old and learning how to do just that. Someday she will have more self-control and be able to choose to obey and control her selfish impulses. I want to continue to be patient with her and teach her that obeying me is of utmost importance and still give her a few areas she can control with natural consequences. (clothes she wears, putting away toys vs. losing them).
You know what Lizzie?
I love you and here is what I say in my head all the time when you opose my orders.
“I know you don’t want to. I don’t want to deal with a stubborn 3 year old today or do all the chores by myself but life is not always fun darling!”