News Flash – Kids Lie. Don’t know if you knew that or not but sweet little cherubs are prone to covering their backsides when confronted about a misdeed. I had to remind myself of this fact of life this weekend when face to face with my sweet little ray of sunshine’s less than truthful statement which snowballed into a major meltdown and pretty significant consequence.
Saturday our little one bounded out of her case worker’s car when getting dropped off at our house after her weekly visit with her family and announced emphatically that she had a nap at her daddy’s house. Wow. How amazingly responsible of her parental units to recognize that this little bundle of four year old energy needs regular naps and burn through some of their visitation time with a much needed nap. Bravo parents. I am impressed. We move forward with the rest of our Saturday without thinking about it again.
Then Sunday comes. We had a very long church service followed by lunch and new members class (yes Tim and I have settled on our Savannah church home). The nursery worker told me that sweet girl was quiet and moody all day. Hmm. Perhaps too much church time. We had after all let her attend Big Church until the sermon began since Tinkerbell and Peter Pan were there (Really Amazing Sermon Series) so she had to be quiet and relatively still for an extended period of time. We headed home, put on Elsa costume and hit the Trunk or Treat at a crazy large church only to have a whining, crying and temper tantrum-ing little one for the entire “fun” event. Too much candy this wise FM concludes.
Then bed time comes and little girl is just behaving badly; nasty attitude, demanding and bossy until I give up and put her emphatically in the corner and take a time out for myself. I’m tired, frustrated by her less than wonderful behavior and struggling to explain how a fun day could result in such a difficult child. Is it because I challenged her to a corner free weekend? She’s done it before, no problem but maybe since family visits are longer and more frequent she is pushing the limits at our house more. Was it due to a sugar overload? Seriously it could be sugar overload.
After Miss Lisa’s time out is over, I go remove little girl from the designated corner and we chat. Expecting a four year old to explain 24 hours of bad attitude and marginal behavior is pretty pointless but I have found if I make some suggestions about what is going on and ask very specific questions instead of “why?” she can and usually does tell me where this behavior is coming from and together we figure out how to avoid it in the future. When I guess that there was no nap, little girl’s sweet face screwed up and her big beautiful brown eyes filled with pools of tears waiting to be shed. Yep, she lied. Yep if I texted her daddy he would confirm that she did not take a nap. Yep it was a bad decision but she didn’t want to take a nap upon returning from her family. Yep there was going to be a serious consequence – no Trick or Treating on Halloween. The end of the world was at hand. To say she cried would be a gross understatement, she bawled, sobbed and cried out in anguish like her favorite gold fish had met an untimely demise.
Evil foster mom won’t let her sweet little foster daughter dress up on Halloween and demand candy from our neighbors. I felt like a villain. Tim reassured me that I was not being unreasonable, lying about taking a nap and then having an entire day of bad behavior has consequences. But I can’t be that FM. So this morning, I offered sweet girl a deal. If she gets a green (smiley face for good behavior at Pre-K) then she and I will go to the Trunk or Treat at the church across the street this afternoon. A smile that could light up a city block was my reward. Every book that I read, every podcast that I subscribe to, every article I have seen all say be consistent and follow through on consequences. I am rationalizing my failure to do as the experts suggest like this; there is no Trick or Treating tonight, we are going Trunk or Treating. There is a huge difference. One you knock on a door and if someone is nice and friendly, they open the door with a bowl of candy and give you handful for interrupting their Jeopardy hour. The other one you walk around a parking lot and a bunch of people with decorated rear facing cars hand you a stingy little one or two pieces of candy because they never plan for enough candy that the event requires so they have to ration out the goods like toilet paper in communist Russia. Totally different.
Yeah, I’m probably not being honest with myself. I’m caving on a consequence because I don’t want this child when she grows up to remember that time she was in foster care and her mean old foster mom bought her a costume but wouldn’t let her go Trick or Treating. Oh well, we will work on honesty again I’m sure but tonight there will hopefully be a happy little Elsa with glitter eye shadow enjoying her time with us.