Friday, October 9, 2009

Deal Maker

Well it's been a pretty good week around here. Seriously above average.

After just surviving a slightly off kilter week, we seemed to have turned the corner. Jackson managed to master his spelling words. Sydney had her first week of spelling homework and we manged this with a minimum amount of resistance..

We actually implemented a MAJOR shift to the bedtime routine: turning the TV off 30 minutes earlier. Normally those kind of changes require a lot of planning, scheming, manipulation, bribery, negotiation and often we are rewarded with outright failure. Last week that might have resulted in histrionics, but this week we pulled it off with barely a complaint.

Husband even had a meeting one night this week and we managed to deal with that and watch some parts of two hockey games on TV. Really, all top shelf.

We had a brief issue about WHEN the Halloween decorations were going up. Jackson was getting a little tense until I realized he just wanted a date. "October 16th" I told him. He was entirely satisfied.

We have Sydney's birthday party, to which her entire class is invited, set for Friday night, but even that seemed doable. I mean 19 kids at Build-A-Bear. Piece of cake.

I got home late on Thursday, about 7. I grabbed a quick bite and Sydney and I had plans to make cupcakes for the party. While we were getting ready to do that, Jackson and Husband were playing Texas Hold 'Em on the DS's. Jackson has been learning poker and Husband might have tried to throw the game but he got a royal flush. I hear that is good and how can you fold with that?

My Mommy radar detected some frustration in the boy's voice so I asked if I can play against Jackson with Daddy helping him. Trying to head things off at the pass. This is really top drawer parenting. I should have my own show. And book deal.

Jackson decided he wants to play darts instead, which we do. He won handily and he seemed satisfied. Then Sydney and Jackson decided to play darts, which Sydney is incredibly good at. I was a little worried about the J Boy losing. He prepared himself "Sydney always wins at darts. She's really good at it" he repeated with every dart he threw.

"She is very good, isn't she?" I tried to help but really, I have really no idea whether that makes it better, as in you-are-fighting-a-force-stronger-than-all-of-us. Or worse as in rub-your-nose-in-it-that-your-little-sister-is-better-at-this.

Imagine my relief when Jackson said a few minutes later "Hey, I won! I never win!" He does a happy dance.

Crisis averted. Everybody stand down.

"SYDNEY TURNED OFF THE GAME!!!" Jackson inexplicably lunged for her. Husband and I were there to intervene. In trying to keep Jackson from his intended action I took an elbow to the face. Twice.

In these situations, punishment, in the traditional sense is throwing gasoline on the fire. Jackson was only slightly in control of his emotions and I knew I needed a big big hammer to get him to pull himself off the ledge.

"Jackson" I said firmly but evenly "you calm down or you will not be able to go to Sydney's Build-a-Bear party".

He stopped in his tracks. He then proceeded to continue his uncivilized behaviour. He lost his Build-a-Bear. And anything with a screen. Plus I told him I would feed him and clothe him, but in a stroke of moderation, told him I would not do anything nice for him.

When the waters seemed calmer -- well I was still seething, not to mention smarting, but Jackson was calmer, Sydney and I attended to project cupcake. Because of the new grocery schedule for the fall I did not manage to remember LAST Friday that I would need to make cupcakes today so I am forced to make them from scratch. Sydney brought her chair to the counter and Jackson asked in the pleasantest of tones "hey, what are you guys doing?".

If I didn't know better, I would think he has an evil identical twin who was the perpetrator of the earlier events. He thinks it's perfectly natural that he should participate in anything interesting going on. The only hint of his acknowledging any responsibility in the events are that he is not even asking to use TV/computer/DS.

I left it up to Sydney and she wanted Jackson to participate. I made him have the further away chair but otherwise really made an effort to keep an even tone. We all maintained our composure for the rest of the night.

I admit I was still quite angry with him while Husband and I were making lunches etc. and then Jackson came down with a comic he had made for me, in a homemade envelope entitled "Sorry Momy". I melted significantly. The comic had nothing to do with the apology but was a peace offering.

I decided that I was going to stick to the no Build-A-Bear edict for Sydney's party. But if he could manage to keep control of his emotions for a few weeks, I would take him back to get one. I told him I would get a babysitter for him or he could come along and be a "party assistant" but not get a bear. He chose party assistant. No bear.

I picked the kids up after school today and Jackson said, and I think he was floating a trial balloon, "Sydney, after your party, I'll have 2 Build a Bears". I am pretty sure he knows what he's doing.

"Um Jackson, remember what we talked about last night. You were going to be a party assistant?"

"Yeah, but a party assistant is at the party and if I'm at the party, I'll get a bear."

"Well, we said last night that your consequence was no bear." I took a deep breath. "BUT, I do have a proposal for you."

"I have one for you" he said in a tense tone, arms crossed.

"If you can keep control of your emotions and not be physical, we'll go back in a few weeks and get you a Build-a-Bear."

"That will only work if I can get a bear by the end of the week."

"Nicer tone Jackson. The end of the week is tomorrow. The whole point is for you to show us that when you get frustrated or disappointed, you won't react like you did last night. So you need some time to show us that."

"I'll extend it till Sunday"

"That is only one more day." I was ready to cave.

Jackson presented a good alternative "why don't you come up with a different consequence and exchange it so I can still get my bear but I will still have a consequence."

Now we're getting somewhere. "Well, that might work. But it needs to be something that is important to you. It can't be 'no vegetables for two weeks' ".

"I can't really think of anything", he replied.

We both sat in silence in the garage.


"How about, you can put up the Halloween decorations this weekend but you'll still have no bear tonight, but can still earn it with good behaviour?"

"Deal" his says.

Using the spooky obsession for good and it cost me nothing as it will be Husband doing the decorating with the J Boy.

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