Sunday, January 24, 2016
Pick Your Battles
Man, that sounds like such obvious sane advice. So simple, so reasonable, so straight forward. But nothing in those parenting books explains how to deal with when your beautiful offspring have drawn a line in the sand, and you have to cross it.
Earning a Coat of Arms
Some of my children suffer severe allergies to winter garments. The very notion of long sleeves makes them break out in tears. They beg, please, let them wear the thinnest t-shirt I haven't squirreled away into winter storage and they'll be so good.
Fortunately, being children, they don't hunt and search terribly well. So I've hidden all the summer wear in the one place they'll never find it; the coat closet.
But they still roll up their sleeves and turn jeans into capri pants. At this point, I have to just pretend I don't know it's 48 degrees outside and windy and have occasionally sent in post-its to the teachers. "THEY INSISTED ON WEARING THIS." so as to have plausible deniability. I also have offered home made chocolate chip cookies on Friday to any kid who wears sweaters and long pants all week long.
The cookies work except for the fact that it's hard to keep the non sweater wearing from also grabbing the goodies which undermines the motivation for anymore than one child to comply each week.
Death Before Hand Me Downs
It's a reality in a big family, you have dresses, coats, shoes and shirts that kids outgrow long before they're worn out. But the kids view these "gifts" as having sibling cooties. The stuff will languish in their closets even as they come to me howling, "I don't have anything to wear." Picking my battles, I've learned to use tissues and package clothing I know the kids can wear but won't if they think it came from a brother or sister. The younger ones buy it...or did until the older ones pointed out they're hand me downs. I've not yet taken to adding price tags but...it might be the next step.
You Can Have My...NEVER
When my oldest turned 8, all he loved was Pokemon. I got him an airbrushed t-shirt with Charizard on it. It was two sizes too big, but he wore it until he was two sizes too big for it.
After trying to donate it three times and having him fish it from the charity box, one time in the dead of night, I waited until he was at school. I planned to stuff it in a bag, I couldn't find it. Perhaps he'd grown up. Perhaps he'd donated it himself. That evening, eyes full of tears, he told me. He worried I'd clear out his stuff that didn't fit anymore, and he'd put it under his bed in his fold away drawer. My son was hiding his old clothes from me. Why was I so determined to get rid of something he loved? I surrendered with the promise, he wouldn't try to wear it anymore.
Pick your battles I told myself. The experience stayed with me. My five year old still tries to wear a size 6 months tutu she received as an infant. I'm not going to even think about putting it in a charity box.
How Serious is the Dress Code?
Crown and fairy wings at mass? We've done that. Robin, complete with mask and cape for bedtime? We've done that too. Tutus with red cowboy boots? No problem. I thought I knew how to "pick my battles." Until I had a 4 year old who believed slippers and sandals should be worn everyday everywhere. When the weather dipped below 25 degrees,I learned to keep a spare set of acceptable shoes in the car. But sometimes in the process of getting out of the car, I'd forget and then, the "Shame on you" looks would come from the woman at the deli when we grocery shopped. "You know, you pick your battles," I'd say and smile weakly.
"You lost." she'd say as she handed me my 1/2 pound of provolone cheese.
So after two decades of trying to pick your battles, I've discovered the true meaning of that phrase...accept that what you are picking, is not which ones to fight, but which ones you're willing to lose.
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