Wednesday night something awful happened. Something so awful that both John and I considered throwing way more than a towel. It started out innocently enough ... Brian had taken some former students to a movie, Sam was asleep, and John and I were preparing for a mother/son movie night. But first we had to water the parched garden and somehow, during that benign act, we had a row.
Actually "row" is a polite, euphemistic understatement for what we had. (FYI: "War" is also a polite, euphemistic understatement for what we had).
It was one of those nights when your kid loses his mind and alternates between, "It was YOUR fault," and "It was all MY fault," and you agree with both.
But I didn't yell. Or swat at anyone's extremities. Or pinch. (I know, I know, you want to nominate me for Mother of the Year 2012 ... but at least finish reading this before you start the rec letter ...)
Instead, I just followed the instructions in my handy-dandy How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk book, and I "mirrored and echoed" what he said: "You're angry because I wouldn't accept the $2 you gave me, hoping it would inspire me to reverse my 'No Movie Night' decision" ... "You're frustrated because you said you were sorry but it didn't get you anywhere" ... "You can't believe that you ruined everything" ... "You can't believe that I ruined everything" ... et cetera.
At one point it was so bad that I had a flashback to the toddler years, and a book I read in which there was some sort of quote about how "separation from the primary caregiver is often the most effective consequence." But anything that feels like a vacation to me seems to go against the idea of punishment, so I delayed it for awhile. I delayed it until it was clear that the child in question had abandoned the whole "throwing a tantrum" idea and had succumbed to the "throwing a tricycle" one, and so I retreated.
I should've known this was coming, given the activities of the day:
I didn't correct his adverb mistake.
I simply hugged him, came inside, and turned on "Jumanji."