Why is it that kids won't listen?! I mean, really. How hard is it to listen to what their parents are telling them, and then to (gasp) do it?! This is what I am currently struggling with.
I am a teacher. All day long I get paid to tell kids what to do, and they listen to me. I can command a whole gymnasium full of elementary school aged kids, but my own children act like they don't hear me.
Now, we may not have this whole parenting thing figured out, but we are at least consistent. If we say we are going to do something, we do it. If we talk about a consequence that will happen, it gets enforced. So why is it that my children continually defy me?
Take today, for example. We were shopping at Target for a birthday present for one of my daughter's friends, and some Father's Day cards. The kids were being pretty well behaved. My son wanted to sit in the cart. Then he wanted out of the cart. Then he wanted in the cart again. I told him that if he got inside the cart, he wasn't getting back out. So what happens? Of course, he wants out again. And now he's whining, and trying to embarrass me into letting him out. Nothing doing. Then I turn my back to read a card, and his sneaky sister helps him get out! Grrrr. Then she says that she is getting in the cart. I said, no, you are too old to be riding in a shopping cart and you'll smoosh the items in the back. Once again, I'm distracted by something, and in the cart she climbs. So now she has earned herself a time out for not listening to me.
Now she's mad, so she's going to make my life miserable in the checkout lane. She opens up the pop cooler and takes out a bottled water. I say, no, put it back and close the cooler. Immediately her little brother puts his hand on the cooler door to open it. I say, "B, if you open that you will have a time out too. I just told your sister not to touch it." So, he opens it when he thinks I'm not looking and then tries to deny it. So now HE also has earned a time out. And he proceeds to throw a fit about it. In the middle of Target. Lovely.
Right about now I'm starting to think that military school sounds pretty good.
On the ride home all I keep hearing from the peanut gallery is "Why do we have to sit in time out?" I'm thinking DUH! But I calmly explain that they made the choice to not listen to what I told them to do, or not to do. It was their choice to have a consequence, not mine. I explained that when I ask them to do something, or not to do something, I am merely trying to keep them safe and healthy and that by defying me they are putting themselves in danger. The whining continues, because of course they are not really listening to me. I go into "ignore mode."
This is the point at which I start to wish that I had more obedient children. But then again, I'm torn. Do I really want to raise robots? Robots that do what I say when I say it and don't question anything? At times, yes! But I also want my children to learn to question things and to make up their own minds about things. But we don't get to pick and choose when our kids get to question and when they don't. I guess the best we can hope for is that when it really matters they will listen. And until then we will wear out the kitchen timer with our time outs.