Yesterday, Hugh and I had a fight over 'the wrong apricot' that became a nerve-jangling battle of wills, where I stuck to the received mantra of, don't back down, you can never back down, you will look weak, they will win and behave abominably, whenever they feel like it.
We were locked down in a stalemate of misery, much like most of world politics. He wailed and screamed and sobbed because I stopped him grabbing a 'different' dried apricot from the communal tub, while shoving the one he had already pawed (with playground hands), back in. He had several on his plate, plus other after-school snacks.
I tried to stick to plan A and put the apricot tub in a high cupboard. Did I have any idea this would lead to an hour of white rage? 'Course not. But half an hour in, I couldn't lose ground, could I?! Super Nanny and orthodox wisdom were yelling, 'hold firm, woman!'
Yet he was distraught - refusing to eat anything, sobbing on the floor. Crying. Kicking. In and out of 'The Naughty Porch'. I offered stop-gap compromises (cashews or pistachios?) but he was locked in to his position, almost helpless, exhausted after school. My own nerves were jangled and I was desperate to help him, without 'giving in' to 'bad' behavior.
So, next time - for there will be one - I wondered about unilateral disarmament. Saying, okay, I know you are doing an expert Horrid Henry impersonation, but I'll give you one chance. IF I let you swap apricots, then you must start to behave. Because behave-and-*then*-we-will-consider- apricot-swapping was failing spectacularly.
A battle-of -wills eats up time. Maybe I'll try allowing the 'right' apricots and then set up some other part 2 sanction. If you don't behave post-apricot swap, I swear I will..., have to think of something. Dear readers, I will let you know.