The day after going to the Christkindle Market, we decided we would like to go to the zoo.
Keith had been playing at his friend's house, so I picked him up from there and we headed to Salt Lake again.
All went well on the ride down. Trouble started, though, when we got there.
Since Keith had been shivering at the Market the night before, I had brought along a thermal shirt and his jacket. I had told him on the drive down that as soon as we got there, I would like him to put his thermal on when we got there.
Before I go on, there is something you should know about Keith.
He hates long sleeved shirts. He always has. It is a battle I only choose to fight when absolutely necessary. Like freezing cold weather outside and we will be out there for a while. Like going to the zoo.
In retrospect, I should have let him be cold for a little while and let him chose to put the shirt on when he was good and ready. But in the moment, I don't always think like that. I worry about him getting too cold, his immune system dropping, and him getting sick.
Oh hindsight, why can't you be more present?
Keith refused to get out of the van. I made him get out and then he refused to come into the zoo with us. I pretended to leave him, standing in a place where he couldn't see me and watched him. 10 minutes passed, and he still stood on the street corner, looking so much like Bogart under the street lamp. Two kind women approached him and asked if he was alright, and if he needed help finding his mother. It made me happy to see all the good people who want to help.
Finally, I decided to make him come in with me. I took his hand and half dragged, half carried him into the zoo. The whole time he was screaming that he didn't want to be there. I told him that he didn't have to wear his jacket, he could just put it on when he got cold, but he did need the shirt because we might not be able to find a bathroom for him to change into it. And the screaming and anger began.
He was chaotic. Hitting me, kicking me, screaming, crying, etc. It was very embarrasing. He was screaming that he didn't want to be there, that he hated me, that he would never listen to me, you know, all those lovely things that make you proud to be a parent. sigh.
After we saw the elephants (which is the first stop) Faye announced she had to use the bathroom. I took both kids into the family bathroom and by this point I honestly thought Keith had been possessed. His face was red, the veins were standing out on his neck, his eyes were literally rolling around in his head, and the sound he was making with his screaming was enough to curdle one's blood. The fact that we were in an echoie bathroom didn't help matters much. I held him close to me and covered his mouth, trying to drown the sound. I was so embarrassed by his behavior and didn't want everyone in the vicinity to hear him. I was very careful to keep my hand only over his mouth, and nowhere near his nose since my sister used to do that to me when I was a little kid, and I couldn't breathe when she did that to me.
He finally screamed to me that he had to use the bathroom. I told him to go ahead since Faye had just finished. While I was helping her to wash her hands, I looked over and was disgusted to see angrily peeing on the wall.
I strongly believe that spanking is not the right approach to parenting. I was spanked up until I was 13, and all it did was teach me to be resentful and more sneaky. Spanking is mostly done out of anger, as well, and I don't think it is good to teach through example that hitting out of anger is okay.
That said, when I saw him relieveing himself on the wall of a public bathroom, I set Faye down, marched over, and gave his naked bum a little swat. It wasn't anything that would ever hurt him. But it surprised him. His eyes opened wide in surprise and he stopped crying and screaming. Were it not such an awful situation, I would have laughed.
He started crying again, but this time a little softer. After his hands were washed, I had to drag him out of the bathroom and into the cafe area to tell the workers that he had peed all over the wall. Not my favorite moment, let me tell you.
We went outside, and he began carrying on again. So I decided to just go back home. It wasn't worth the energy to drag him around, fighting me the whole time. He was making it miserable for both Faye and me. I threw my hands up in the air and told him that he would get his way. We were going home.
"I don't want to go home!!!" He screamed. As we headed to the entrance, he dug his heels in and I had to drag him again. The whole time he was screaming that he wanted to stay. He didn't want to leave. I finally had to lift him up and carry him.
I think he just wanted to be obstinate.
I got the kids buckled into their seats, and we headed for home.
Keith had lost a whole month of playing video games. It started out one day at a time, then moved up to one week, and finally hit a whole month. That is his favorite thing, and I couldn't think of any other punishment for him.
Ten minutes into the drive home, he fell asleep.
Watching him in the rear-view mirror, I was struck by the difference.
Twenty minutes prior I was convinced he had succumbed to some sort of a devil. At that moment, he looked positively angelic! His dark lashes on his red cheeks, his hair all mussed up from the fighting, his cute little mouth slackly open and all his features relaxed, he looked like a cherub. And my heart melted from all the drama and frustration just a little while before. The poor dear was just tired!
He still lost a month of video games, because it is not okay to act like that ever. Tired or not.
We got home and cuddled for a little while and talked about his choices, and I enjoyed every second.