When my first child, Sam, was 4, I would have had a heart attack if he was not up and at ’em. I would have fought him out of bed and struggled him into clothes and tried to talk him into going to school. Or I would have used reverse psychology on him by telling him all the things he would miss at school that day with the hope of getting him to change his mind and get ready on his own. I remember days like that, in fact. I remember the 45-minute battles.
Ellen eventually decided she did want to go to school, got ready, and we were only about 10 minutes late. No biggie. No battle.
What’s the difference between what happened with Ellen and the strategies I tried on Sam? I simply don’t care anymore.
With Sam, I was stressed out and cared about being on time to preschool because it reflected on me as a parent. Now I make no pretense of being a stellar parent. Sure, I’d love for people to think I am, but who has the time or the energy? Kids are like dogs. They smell fear. Reverse psychology doesn’t work. But the other day with Ellen, I figured there was really no harm in missing one day of preschool. I didn’t care. In the words of George Costanza, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Sam and Ellen have totally different temperaments. Maybe it was just luck that got her ready for school that day. But I really do think there is something to giving up. I have decided to save my strength and pick my battles. And things aren’t getting worse. Here is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of things I’ve given up on:
Not eating in bed
Wearing shoes outside
Not wearing socks with holes in them
Monitoring candy intake
Being considered a good mom by other moms
It’s liberating! My kids are all alive and well — and not a cavity among the bunch. Just say yes to giving up.
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