My 6 y/o is currently lying in a blanket fort she made, FaceTiming with my mom while wearing headphones, which means that she’s speaking VERY loudly on this end, because she doesn’t know how headphones work.
She’s telling grandma (loudly), ‘IF I DO A GOOD JOB FOR TWO WHOLE WEEKS WHICH, I THINK, IS LIKE THREE DAYS, MAYBE? I GET TO GET A MYSTERY PET….I THINK MAYBE IT’S A LIZARD OR A GERBIL.’ My mom must have asked something like “Oh, cool. How’s it going so far?” because next I heard, ‘WELL, YESTERDAY WAS A BLOWOUT, I DIDN’T LISTEN TO MY PARENTS AT ALL, BUT MAYBE TODAY WILL BE BETTER.’
We’ve been having some bad days. Many a “blowout,” if you will. She’s a delicate little critter who had JUST gotten used to school (kindergarten) when the plague happened. She thrives with routine and knowing what’s expected of her and enjoys being on top of the social pyramid, which at home, she generally is not. She craves attention and approval, but when it comes down to it, any attention will do.
So, yesterday I hit my limit and withdrew my attention and basically told her, nicely but firmly, that we’re done with her shit. Clearly, the coddling, the threats, the little bribes, the positive and negative responses from me aren’t working and she needs to do the work herself. Incidentally, I was able to communicate to her effectively because I’m working HELLA hard at mastering my own temper and not ‘owning’ other people’s nonsense. I told her, “You’re a good egg, but you’re making bad egg choices and only you can change that.” She unraveled completely, but then eventually pulled enough of her back together that we could sit down together over a cup of tea (hers, 3 parts sugar and cream, 1 part tea — she hated that part) and discuss a plan to turn things around.
Then I BIG bribed her. Not ashamed. I told her that if she makes a MAJOR change for TWO WHOLE WEEKS (#notthreedays) we could think very seriously about getting a pet.
It’s not a lizard or a gerbil. It’s maybe a rabbit, since we have friends who have a rabbit sanctuary/rescue and are looking for good homes for some abandoned Easter gifts. So, maybe, it’s a cage and a bunch of hay and figuring out how to care for a rabbit, but mostly it’s a figment, a goal, a ‘pet-on-a-shelf’ sorta of thing that I can hang over her head as a positive reason to keep her tiny shit together.
Also, I told her that committing to a pet, offering it an actually ‘good’ home requires the members of the home to be reliable, wise, and in control of themselves, so…we’re all working on being a good home for pets and humans alike. It’s a work in progress.