From battles to snuggles: It’s always the smart kids
Duluth News Tribune
Sunday September 13th, 2020
I was sitting at the daycare table in the kitchen, sipping my morning coffee, when I first heard the ruckus on my front porch. I looked toward the door and could see one of my daycare moms struggling to keep her two-year-old daughter, Piper, from wiggling off her hip. I could hear her four-year-old, Wyett, yelling about something as he pounced at the door, then shoved it open. My work day of managing seven children under the age of five had begun.
I rose from my chair and asked, “Wyett, what’s going on?”
Wyett looked at me with a snarl and took his stand, with arms folded, and his back against the stairway wall.
Mom said, “It was just fine until we got here.”
Wyett started pounding the back of his boot against the floor, demanding it to soar off his foot. He turned his anger toward his mother and said, “Stop talkin’ to me!”
Mom explained the problem while sliding Piper off her hip, “When I let him out of the car, he went racing toward the door and he slipped and fell.”
“Oh,” I answered. I watched Piper scoot next to Wyett and deliberately plant her cheeky grin into his grumpy face.
“No Piper!” Wyett roared, nearly knocking her down with his voice. Piper responded with a tearful cry.
Parenting is hard work, times two if you have two children. I did what I could and held out my arms to console Piper while Mom had a parental discussion with Wyett.
Wyett was beyond the point of return. While I listened to the negotiations, I tried to think of what I had in my arsenal that could help move the resolution process along. Like a ding-ding winner, I went to the daycare room and retrieved Wyett’s brand-new, extra-large, blue-striped, coveted blanket.
“Here,” I said to Mom, handing her the blanket. I turned my attention to Wyett, “If you don’t stop yelling at your mom, she is taking it back home.”
“I want my blankie!” Wyett redirected his glare toward me.
We had our winner.
“Nope,” I said with confidence. This was one of those teaching moments, and I was prepared for the consequences. “You apologize to your mom or she is taking it!”
There was no point in arguing further, so Mom left for work, Piper found her favorite puppy toys, and Wyett ran into the daycare room and found his hiding place behind the couch. I went to the kitchen to prepare for the morning snack.
“Wyett,” I called into the room, “time for snack.”
“I’m Not Eating!” He screamed with a vengeance.
“Why not?” I asked. “You must be hungry.”
“You. Took. My. Blankie!”
“No,” I answered. “You were disrespectful to your Mom so you lost that privilege. You still have your old blanket here. You’ll have to use that one until you apologize to your mom.”
Wyett responded with a scream.
The morning continued much the same way. For every time Wyett accused me of ‘taking his blanket,’ I responded with different versions of ‘why’ he lost his special blanket privilege.
I tried closed-end questions; “Who was not being nice to their mom this morning?” “Was it your mom’s fault you fell down?”
I tried to answer the questions for him; “What could your mom have done differently? She wanted to help you to feel better, but all you did was yell at her?! That’s not okay.”
I tried giving him a directive; “It’s never okay to talk to your mom like that.” “You need to take responsibility for your actions.”
The only response I got from Wyett was that I took the blanket. And that both Mom and I were mean. My teaching moment turned into hours, and it took all I had to not sound like I was arguing with a four-year-old.
It seems like it’s the smart kids who are always challenging their caregivers because they are capable of thinking ten steps ahead. And then there’s the fact that some kids see things as either a win or a loss. Apparently, I was a little like that too.
It was time to wake kids up from their nap and I felt a sense of defeat. I did nothing to help Wyett, I only managed to waste our day making a point that would never be realized. I began to think about what I was going to say to Mom. I felt bad in knowing I had let her down.
Wyett looked unhappy when he got up from his cot. I held out my arms and he snuggled up against me on the couch. When I arranged his old blanket so it covered his toes, he stared at the TV screen and said, “You took my blankie.”
I sighed and barely whispered, “You know why. And you need to tell your mom you’re sorry.”
What I was thinking, but not saying out loud was, I quit. I give up. I’m done.
I was surprised to hear Wyett let out a sigh. I guessed the fight was out of him too. I don’t know what he was thinking, but what he said made the whole day worthwhile. “Well,” he said, “Awright.”