I wanted to share my latest power struggle with you.
Because 1) I lost, and 2) in hindsight, I can see that I was being kind of unreasonable.
Two nights ago, I went in to Number 3’s room to say goodnight to him.
He was rolling up the shade on the window by his bed. As soon as I saw him doing this, I told him to put it down.
**Commence power struggle**
“Mom! I don’t want it all the way down. I only want it half way down,” he told me, annoyed.
“But it’s dark out!” I said to him. “It doesn’t matter if it’s up or down anyway.”
“Well then why does it have to be all the way down if it doesn’t matter?” he asked me.
I could feel myself tensing up.
Being only twelve years old, Number 3 obviously wasn’t thinking long term. He wasn’t thinking about the morning. He wasn’t realizing that if he left the shade up, the sunlight in the morning would wake him up earlier than he had to actually get up. And then he’d be tired.
I was only thinking about his well-being.
I really was.
But he did not want the shade down.
“But the sun will wake you up in the morning before you need to get up,” I told him.
“No it won’t,” he said.
“Yes it will!” I told him. “And then you’ll be more tired than usual!”
“MOM. I don’t want the shade all the way down.”
“Fine,” I said to him. “But don’t complain tomorrow when you are tired because you woke up way earlier than you needed to.”
“I WON’T,” he assured me. “GOD, MOM.”
Now that I’m sitting here at the computer, I see how stupid this whole exchange was.
I honestly was only thinking about Number 3. I know how badly he hates waking up for school in the morning as it is.
But would waking up a half hour earlier than he needed to really have been the end of the world?
Wouldn’t the natural consequence of waking up be a much more effective lesson for Number 3 than him simply obeying my demand that he pull the damn shade down? Would he actually learn anything other than obedience that way ?
Second, I immediately invited the power struggle by ordering him to pull the shade down all the way down.
If I could go back and do it over again, I would have approached it this way:
Me: Do you want to put the shade all the way down so the sunlight doesn’t wake you up in the morning?
Number 3: Not really.
Me: Okay! Good night. I love you!
Possible Outcome #1 : Number 3 wakes up earlier than necessary and learns a lesson.
Possible Outcome #2: Number 3 does not wake up earlier than necessary and Mom learns a lesson.
I mean, seriously.
It’s a fucking shade.
But third, here is the thing I temporarily forgot…
Number 3 is twelve years old. He has entered that phase of childhood where you could shine a 10,000 watt spotlight directly in his face, a wrecking ball could come crashing through his bedroom wall, and I could scream in his ear at the top of my lungs with a bullhorn, and he still wouldn’t wake up.
Of course, the next morning he was passed out cold when I went into his room. The sunlight didn’t disrupt him at all.
He didn’t give me an I told you so.
But he totally could have.
So I’m not gonna mention the shade exchange.
But the next time I feel the urge to make sure Number 3 realizes how I’m obviously right and he’s obviously wrong, I’m going to do my best to remember it.