Friday, March 17, 2006

With underwear this great who needs pants?

At least I think that was Beau's argument today and I think that is what earned me the advice from his teachers that I "really need to fight the battles."

Battles? Beau and I don't have battles. We have WARS! What they perceive as the spoils of the victor are really just a series of negotiations, treaties and compromises.

Today, I suppose it did look like Beau might have won the whole war but that is because they don't know exactly what was at stake and what went down on the battle field. If Beau had really won he would have shown up at school with just his Batman underwear, his soccer shirt and his too small soccer shoes. And of course wielding the blue sword.

Today was wear something green day. So Beau most agreeably put on his green soccer shirt. He wanted to wear his dirty sweat pants but I explained that since they smelled like urine that was probably not the best idea. Then he insisted on wearing his shoes with the light up disco soccer balls. I'll admit it: they are cool shoes and I have tried to find him some in a bigger size but these no longer fit him. At all. They are at least a size, if not 2 sizes, too small. This battle though, I let him win. If forcing his chubby feet into too small shoes is his idea of winning then he won!

After the shoe debacle he decided that he needed to go potty. Beau's idea of going potty is sitting for a few minutes on the potty while not peeing or pooping and then getting off, throwing toilet paper in the potty and flushing. I know he really wants to go on the potty but the magic just hasn't happened for him yet. It happened yesterday in the living room while we did a trial run with the big boy underpants though. Which bring us to why after "going potty" today he said " Na na underwear!"

"Oh no," I told him. "You cannot wear the Batman underwear until you GO on the potty. That was a good try but that was not GOING on the potty. You need to make pee or poo. That is going on the potty."

"Me! potty!" he argued and so ensued a tantrum on the bathroom floor. "Okay," I relented, "you can wear the underwear over your diaper." He agreed to this but not to the pants. He ran from me and I had to chase him all over the house and wrangle him into his pants. I did the belt extra tight for good measure.

After all this it is time to go and Beau grabs his blue sword. Not again, I think. I try to be nice and reasonably explain that he cannot bring his sword to school. I try to get him to willingly leave it at home. When that fails I forcibly wrench it from his hands and fling it up the stairs and rush out of the house with him flailing about like a wild animal. I have to sit on him to get him strapped into his carseat.

He continues his screaming punctuated with: scream "My!" deep breath "Blue!" deep breath "Bord!"

After a few minutes of driving and him screaming I start trying to think how I can get him to stop. I just cannot have the same scene again today as I did on Tuesday. I try music: pisses him off. I try putting his window down: pisses him off.

I make a hand puppet. Handpuppet talks Beau down from the ceiling. I drive with one hand on the wheel and one hand on my headrest. Beau laughs. Carmella laughs. Jackpot! Carmella wants a handpuppet. Beau wants a handpuppet. At the next red light I make handpuppets on their little fists. Carmella's handpuppet tells a knock knock joke. Beau's does nothing. Beau begins to freak out because his puppet isn't working. Sigh. Now we are stuck with permanent black ink faces on our fists.

When I take Beau to his classroom I explain the situation du jour and Beau insists on taking his pants off. I tell him he has to keep his pants on but he can show everyone his cool underwear. This seems to work okay and after a bit of struggle zipping the pants back up he does go into class and play.

I suppose though that his teachers did not appreciate it when inevitably they had to change his diaper as I am certain he tried to put up a fight about putting the pants back on. And I am positive that he tried many times and many ways into tricking them into taking his pants off again. And when that failed I know his next line of action was to take his shoes off. Now, I did send other shoes but they said they didn't feel like wrestling him into his shoes. Fine, I completely understand. I absolutely do not expect them to fight any battle they do not to want to. I have told them this and that they should call me to come get him anytime he becomes too much. Yes, I go running but I always have my phone. Only one time have they ever called me and that was for the coat incident. Which, for the record, is no longer an issue.

So I was a little frustrated at the "talk" I got when picking him up. They cushioned it with: he was great today. He had fun. We LOVE him. He is AWESOME. I don't get what this talk was suppose to accomplish though. I really don't know what more I can do. And after thinking it over I think what his teachers really meant when they said I need to fight the battles was really that I need to WIN all the battles so that they will have no battles at school. That, is a completely unreasonable request. It completely flies in the face of all the parenting advice I have gotten which is: with a strong-willed child you should pick your battles. Even they have said this to me. Trust me, I would like to win every single battle more than anyone--and in my mind I did win the important stuff today-- but I still want Beau to maintain his spirit and feel that he does have some control, some say in his life. I do think Beau is great and funny and very special boy with an incredible personality and imagination. Yes, he can be difficult, yes he is strong-willed but that is what makes him Beau. With any child you take the good with the bad. I think they are absolutely wrong to fault me for him trying to win those same battles again with them that we fight at home. I can fight him all day at home and win but how am I to stop him from trying to fight and win those battles with someone else?

I grew up being the child no one could control. So they put me on Ritalin. And I will not do that to Beau. I feel like I am already getting the "talks" that will some how lead us down that slippery slope and he is only 2. What I learned today was that not only do I have to fight the battles with Beau but I also have to fight the battle for Beau to be Beau.

This parenting stuff; it is hard.


  1. I'm so sorry that you are getting "the talk" at school. We are behind you 100%.

    Regarding the battles at school, I have to tell Annika that unless she follows directions from her teachers at school (no hitting, apologizing, etc), she can't go. That seems to work - most of the time.

  2. You're such a good mom, Nat. I've always heard to pick your battles, too. Sounds like the teachers are being unreasonable.

  3. I followed the link over from the forum. We have had similar battles with Alec and Maren. The book that helped us the most is Setting Limits with your Strong-willed Child: Eliminateing Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries by Robert J. MacKenzie.

    There are 5 chapters for 2 year olds. Just this week we made it thru the gocery store without Maren throwing a tantrum and taking off all her clothes and diaper.

    Hang in there because it's not easy being a parent to strong-willed children.