Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Have to Play By The RULES!

One of the things that attracted me to hubby was a story he tells about he and his now grown daughter. She had been messing around with him. When he told her to come inside the house for dinner, she just laughed and ran away. He was getting angry and finally went out to get her. He tripped on one of the porch steps and fell onto the sidewalk. She stood about a foot away and laughed at him. Not only was he physically hurt, but also embarrassed and emotionally hurt. To retaliate, he grabbed the macrame belt he was wearing (yeah, hippie!) and took a swipe in her direction, not really expecting to do much more than show her he wasn't happy. He hit her square on the butt. This was the first (and last) time he ever "spanked" her. It hurt her feelings and she cried. Then HE started crying because he hit his daughter! (Now, we're talking about a belt made from braided yarn. It didn't really hurt in the physical sense.) When she saw him crying, she stopped immediately, gave him a big hug, and they went inside to eat dinner. Aww...
Photo by woodleywonderworks on Flickr
 Last night, as I was making dinner, hubby & Little Guy were in the other room playing with Legos. This is one of his very favorite activities to do with his daddy and he looks forward to doing so every evening. My oldest had just passed down a set to Little Guy that could be built into a pirate ship and they were both pretty excited to play with it. Hubby really wanted to make the ship so he and Little Guy could play pretend with all of the Lego guys. They come up with some rather interesting stories - there's one about Carl the Laundry Man, another about Rasheed the Snake Charmer... Anyway, as hubby worked on putting all of the pieces where they were supposed to go, Little Guy busied himself with the joy of just plain building. Every once in a while, I could hear him say, "I need borrow dat piece for my truck [or train, or car...] I'm building," to my increasingly frustrated husband. I could envision what was going on, every time my hubby turned to look for a piece he needed, Little Guy was taking one from the ship.

That's when it happened.  Hubby had had enough. Slowly, buy surely, his voice came through loud and clear, slowly rising the more he spoke, "No! That piece doesn't go there! I need it for the ship! Don't you want to help me build this ship???" Then the lecture began (remember, he's talking to a kid who isn't even quite 3 years old.)

"You need to play by THE RULES. Don't you understand? We're trying to build this really cool ship and you keep messing it up! This piece goes here, you see? If you're not going to play by THE RULES, I don't want to play Legos with you anymore. You can just play by yourself because I don't want to play with someone who doesn't follow THE RULES. No one will ever want to play with you if you just do whatever you want and don't play by THE RULES..."
It went on from there. I was seeing red, but couldn't come to his rescue because I was making mac & cheese and had just started to add the milk to the sauce. I had to keep stirring... Finally, when I had a chance, I popped my head into the room and told them it was time to start cleaning up because dinner would be ready soon. What I wanted to do was tear hubby a new one for talking to that little one like that. It wasn't just the words, but the tone of voice, too. I waited, though. We don't argue in front of Little Guy when it could possibly turn into a heated battle of parenting philosophies. He doesn't need to witness that. Plus, he was starting to get the idea that since I make the majority of the rules that pertain to him, he didn't have to listen to anyone other than me. Not cool when hubby takes him for a walk and he runs off because he feels that hubby's instructions (like: Hold hands across the street) don't apply because it's not Mommy saying it. I held my tongue until after bed time.

Then I confronted my husband. Yes, "confronted", not "brought up the subject" or "asked". I was still really pissed off. I wanted to know why he thought it was OK to talk to our son like that. His response was that he kept saying more and more things, in a meaner and meaner way, because what he was saying was not phasing Little Guy. In fact, he was being completely ignored. He was mad at this, so he kept on going. WHAT?! I was dumbfounded for a minute or two. Was I hearing a grown man tell me that he was saying increasingly hurtful things to a toddler just to get a rise out of him?! I went over the things he said to our son (kind of like the paraphrased piece, up there), then asked him how he'd feel if he heard another kid or the oldest saying those things to Little Guy. "But he wasn't even paying attention!" was his retort. What do you do when someone hurts your feelings? I try to ignore the person, busy myself with something else until the person stops or I can go away. I asked hubby if he thought maybe Little Guy was doing the same thing. He was quite defensive about the whole situation - probably because I was on the warpath.

Legos, he would try to just go with the flow and not worry about making anything colossal for now.

This morning, hubby told me he felt really bad about talking to Little Guy that way. He still feels that it's his job to teach him how to follow rules, though. I think he's still a little young, but suggested buying a simple game like Candyland or Memory for Little Guy's birthday for them to play together. I really hope that this is the last of incidents of this nature. I'm still pretty shocked at the entire thing. I would have never thought of this kind of thing coming from my husband - ever.


Bernie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow! I can see where that would startle you a bit. I'm so glad you didn't rush in there and try to "smooth it all over." Though I'm sure the urge to not do so was strong.

Sounds like someone needed a time out and it wasn't the little guy.