A couple of weekends ago, I read just about the funniest thing I had read, well, since 50 Shades, while researching parenting strategies on the web. Back story: Katie had a urinary tract infection and REFUSED to take her antibiotic. I tried for 2 hours using everything in my rather pathetic arsenal of parenting skills: bribery, punishment, trickery, reasoning, coddling, and even force. I sent her to her room and told her she couldn’t come out until she was ready to drink her medicine. To which she responded by staying inside for 45 minutes, which in toddler time, is equivalent to a 3-day hunger strike. Touché, Katie. I cuddled her and comforted her in hopes she would acquiesce but instead was met by clenched mouth and pursed lips that could only be pried open with the jaws of life. I told her it would continue to hurt to pee if she didn’t take it, to which she retorted in a firm and angry voice, “I WANT MY PEE TO HURT!” I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: this girl has balls.
With nothing left to do, I turned to the savior that is Google to look for ways other parents had broken the sprits of their young ones. A quick search revealed nothing new…mix it with juice (check), mix it with yogurt (check), promise candy (check), force it into her like a cowboy inoculating a calf (check and a big stain of sprayed spit and pink goo on my sweater, face, and hair to show for it). And then, I read an entry on Yahoo answers that had me almost busting a gut from one marshfield_meme:
You know I hear this from time to time, “My toddler won’t”, or “My child refuses”. You are the parent! Get with it! Your child is ill, get off your back side and be the parent – give them the medication! There will never be a time when you have a greater advantage over your child! Parenting is not for cowards.
You wanted this job, now step up to the plate. No wonder we have a generation of children that won’t listen to their teachers, and have no respect for the law. When a child, not yet two can refuse to take medication, what can we expect from that child at 14? Do you honestly expect her to listen to you when you tell her she can’t take the car out on Saturday night?
I’m sorry; but, stop and listen to yourself. You are the person responsible for her well-being. You need to come to grips with the fact that you are her mother and there are parts of your job that are not pleasant. If that means you give her a swat on the back side to show her you mean business then do it. Then give her the medicine and hold her and rock her and sing to her.
Might I respectfully offer my rebuttal, Mrs./Mr. marshfield_meme? While I do agree on principle that I am the parent and I should be the “boss,” some times (oh hell, many times) that just does not happen with a two-year old. There is a reason why when you enter a plane with your toddler in your arms, passengers around you freeze up with a look of sheer terror in their eyes and send up a silent prayer to whoever their God might be that you will not be sitting within a 5 row radius of them. Because toddlers are masters of retaliation and you, even as an adult with many more inches of height and many more pounds of girth than these munchkins are held hostage by their whims and antics. Like a teeny tiny Charlie Sheen hopped up on too much blow, you just don’t know what on God’s green earth will happen next. There is no such thing as a “reasonable” reaction. For example, a simple request to put away their toys may result in them peeing on your hardwood floors. Or they literally bite the hand that feeds them when you try to get them to eat more of their veggies. Or they poop in their underwear. Or they slap you. Or they scream so loud and for so long, that you just want to curl up in a fetal position and whimper until it stops. The agents at Gitmo could pick up a few pointers from our kiddos.
After hours, days, weeks, months, YEARS of this kind of treatment, these kids wear us down. And while we don’t want to cede all powers to these tiny terrors, we do embrace a new mantra: Pick Your Battles. We have to prioritize those “just let it go” moments with the “bring down the iron fist” moments. Girls running amok at Barnes & Noble while I browse for a chick-lit novel that will hopefully provide me with 386 pages of escapist drivel? Doesn’t even register on my Mommy Meter. Katie won’t take her antibiotic for a UTI that, if left untreated, could result in continued infections, permanent damage to her kidneys, and maybe even a transplant in which I will have to bravely give up one of my own functioning kidneys? Damn straight this mom will get down to business. So yes, Katie might have won all the battles in that two hour test of wills but this mommy won the war. I sat her in front of the TV, watched as her eyes glazed over to the opening tune of Doc McStuffins, and poured the medicine into her unsuspecting gullet, followed by a grape juice chaser. Katie: 0; Mommy: 1. YES!