Say what you mean and mean what you say
It's tricky situation when you wind up living with someone like that - particularly when that someone is your own child.
The annoying habit went public Friday, when we were shopping for a present for a birthday party that night and Big Guy was bent on mischief.
"Please stop running," I said, more calmly than I felt considering that the guys had been bickering, tattling and cross-tattling since the second we'd arrived. "We're here to buy the present, and if you two can't calm down we're going to have to leave without the present. That means we can't go to the party."
"Fine," Big Guy pouted. "I don't want to go anyway."
"I do, Mommy! I do, Mommy! I'll quit running," Boots said.
"I don't. I hate parties," Big Guy added.
"But I want to go. I want to GO." Boots pleaded.
Big Guy kept getting louder and louder. "I don't. Let's just go home."
"OK," I said. "Let's go."
Big Guy started pleading as tears formed. "No, no, no, Mommy. I want to go to the party. Can we buy the present?"
We bought the present and went to the party, where Big Guy had a blast. I'm not sure that the neighbors did - five grade-school age boys can make a lot of noise. After the party, Big Guy and I had a talk about not saying things you don't mean.
Then the same thing happened again Sunday, when Big Guy at first said it was more important to do what he wanted than to work out a compromise with a friend who'd come over to play. "Just let him go home. I don't care."
As I walked toward the phone to call his friend's mom, the tears came again.
"No, Mommy, no! I want to work it out."
I knew, both with the party and with the friend, that Big Guy didn't mean what he was saying. Ultimately, Big Guy is aware as well because he readily admits to sometimes saying things he doesn't mean.
I just don't know how to get out of the cycle of silliness. Maybe it's simply a matter of calling his bluff a few times. Problem is, in both recent instances of blufforama there have been third parties involved. Boots in the case of the party and Big Guy's friend in the second dispute.
I also can't figure out what psychic reward Big Guy gets from the game. Is it the joy of being contrarian? Is it the thrill of challenging me right up to the point where he realizes he's in danger of losing something he really wants?
I'm stumped. I'm hoping it's one of those "just a phase" things, but I don't know how to phase out of it.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.