It’s a gentle give and take, a push and pull, and in my case, a threat and a cuddle.
“If you throw another Paw Patrol toy, I’m going to sweep them up and toss them straight in the trash!”
This is followed by cries and defiant screams, but eventual compliance. Then, I spend 10–15 minutes thinking about my daughter as an adult, threatening every situation with a trash can.
That boy in class not letting you play with the ball? THROW IT IN THE TRASH, or better yet, THROW HIM IN THE TRASH!
Lady at the DMV telling you that you don’t have the right documentation to renew your license? You know the drill! Take everything on her desk and THROW IT IN THE TRASH! Don’t forget that mean mug on her face!
Or maybe she’ll worry that anything she throws is destined for the trash can. Or that every toy left out of its place will disappear into the ever-hungry bin. She’ll just never know the glory of throwing a ball. Besides, she’ll be too busy tidying up, just like her mother did.
And just like that, I’ve come full circle and am knocking on the door of “repeated mistakes that will make my daughter resent me later.”
But I’ve tried the gentle, often more disarming approach to reprimanding her.
“My love, don’t throw your toys. You love to play with your toys, and we should take care of them to play with them longer. Place your toys down gently, sweetheart.”
And you know what happens next?
DONK. Small plastic puppy between the eyes. And that shit hurts. It sure does make her laugh, though!
So instead, my day is full of half-empty threats. Threatening her toys, threatening to make her sleep alone if she won’t lay her head on the pillow and stop shoving her feet in my face during bedtime, threatening her dessert if she doesn’t eat her 2 carrots at dinner. Ultimately, this cycle makes me feel terrible. Does this mean it makes her feel terrible, too?
Inbetween threats, after I’ve completed the cycle of motherly guilt, I hold my arms out to her. She comes running and hold her and mold her to my body. I smell her head. I tell her I love her. She says she loves me, too. I feel reset. Like I can fully exhale again. She toddles off to put kinetic sand into the dog food bowl.
Are my threats boundaries? Are they even working? Am I doing this right? I’m sure she’ll tell me when she’s 16.