When people used to comment to me, “oh, it’s amazing how each child is so different,” I would nod and smile and understand it in theory, but to me, my first three kids seemed exactly the same: feisty, smart and charming with a large dollop of sass. And then came Dean. My sweet Dean.
Dean is smart. Every bit as much. But the difference between Dean and the others is that Dean feels remorse when he gets scolded. He is brought to tears with one firm “no!” Andy, Kate and Luke were never like that. I’d say, “say you’re sorry!” and they’d retort, “no, no sorry!”
For example: rewind a couple of years when Luke was just about to turn the ripe age of 2……
He hits me.
“Luke, that hurt. Say you’re sorry to me.”
“No, no sorry.”
“Say you’re sorry, Luke.”
At this point, I can’t let it go. I have to win this now. As a parent, I have to win.
“That’s it. Go on the “naughty spot” until you can say sorry.”
He huffs over to the first step on the stairs and plops down. Minutes tick by.
“Luke, say you’re sorry.”
I spank his little diaper padded bum. My cool facade starts to peel.
“Say you’re sorry, Luke! Say, ‘I’m sorry, mom.’ SAY IT!!”
Then with an eerie calm, he raises his eyes to mine without lifting his blond head and breathes,
At that point, I bust up laughing. Why? ‘Cause the kid’s got nerve.
So these are the kind of terrible twos I’m used to. I used to have to muffle my giggles in Sunday School when they talked about becoming as a child–meek and submissive. Whose kids were they referring to? Not mine.
But then along came Dean. Oh sweet, sweet Dean. He is ready to hug and cuddle and say “sorry” with just a stern gaze. He crumbles upon being punished. He shows actual remorse. He doesn’t always learn his lesson (he still plays in the toilets, gets into my make-up and bites) but he is oh-so-sorry if I get mad, that I just can’t stay mad for long.
So which is the smarter tactic?