Welcome to my Weblog!
Welcome to 1 Mother 2 Another! To read my most recent weblog entries, scroll down. To read entries from one category, click the links at right. To read my journey from the beginning, click here. To find out more about me, click here.
Top 5s
Short on time? Click here to go to my Top 5s Page - links to my top five recommendations in every category from Breastfeeding Sites to Urban Living Solutions.

The Disobedience Game

Ever the reflecting pool that shines the
unvarnished face of my parenting skills back at me, my daughter has
come up with a new game – Elmo Disobeys.

A few days ago Maddie was happily putting Elmo to sleep in my room
– she often uses Cora’s bassinet for Elmo when
it’s empty, and will entertain herself for quite some time
getting his blanket, monitor, and so on, just right. I’d
already whispered night-night to Elmo and tiptoed out, even though
he was still awake and only to the pajama stage of the ritual; I
needed to use this time to get some things done in the kitchen and
figured Maddie could handle the rest on her own.

Suddenly, I hear: “No! No, Elmo! It’s time to go to
bed, RIGHT NOW!” And then, “Mommy! Elmo’s
disobeying!” floats down the hall at me.

This I’ve got to see.

I come into the room and see Maddie
unswaddling Elmo and shaking her head. “Elmo’s
disobeying, Mommy,” she says, and I swear Elmo looks a little

“Well, kiddo, I guess you’d better talk to him. What do
you want to say?”

Maddie looks at me blankly then says, “I already told him no.
I told him it’s time to go night-night but he refuses.”
I can see she’s stuck, uncertain what comes next in the
rhythm of our discipline cycle. And I realize this is the time for
her to hear this lesson from a different perspective: calm,
rational, not wound up and emotional.

“Do you want me to talk to him?” I offer. Relieved, she
nods her head.

Oh, boy. Better make this one count.

“First, Maddie, you want to get on Elmo’s level. No one
wants someone towering over him and yelling. Then you want to try
to see things from his point of view.” So I pick Elmo up (and
at this point I can’t decide which is more ridiculous –
that I’m having a discipline conversation with a red monster
in Cora’s old pajamas, or that I see nothing weird about
having a discipline conversation with a red monster in Cora’s
old pajamas) and hold him near me, and begin The Talk.

“Elmo,” I say in what I hope is a stern yet sympathetic
voice, “I understand that sometimes it’s hard to go
night-night. You’re having a good time playing and
don’t want to see that end, and that can be frustrating. No
one likes clean-up time if they aren’t ready for it. But
it’s very important that you learn to obey Maddie;
she’s only looking out for your best interests. If you
don’t go to sleep now, you won’t get enough sleep and
you won’t have energy to play tomorrow. And think of all the
fun things you can do when you wake up! But just as important, if
you choose to disobey Maddie (and I can see my daughter creeping
closer, listening intently) then there will be consequences, and
you’ll start to lose privileges like playing with your
favorite toys. So now it’s time to go night-night and you
need to listen to Maddie.

“But before you go night-night,” I round out the
lesson, “you need to apologize to Maddie for disobeying

“Sorry,” Elmo squeaks to Maddie.

“And now Maddie, you need to forgive Elmo. Because
forgiveness is just as important as repentance. So can you forgive

“I forgive you, Big Elmo,” she says and sweetly hugs

Satisfied, I creep away as Maddie tries to pick the bedtime routine
back up. Once back in the kitchen, I scan through everything I
said, hoping I’ve covered the salient points without going
over her head. My kid is bright and the best I can do is speak
honestly to her and learn what’s too much, but I think she
got everything I said. And indeed, I can hear Elmo
“disobeying” a few more times, giving Maddie a chance
to practice her speech twice more and demonstrating that she really
was listening. I know this is her way of processing what goes on in
her daily life and I have huge respect for her working it out on
her own.

But once again she gets stuck and wants my help working through the
next part of the process:

“Mommy! He’s still disobeying!”

“Well then,” I say as I come back in, “what do
you think the consequence of that should be? You need to teach him,
gently but firmly, that he has to obey you.”

Maddie thinks for a moment, and makes a decision. Turning to Big E
she says solemnly, “Elmo, you can’t play with the
kitchen toys for the rest of the day. But I still forgive

Apparently, that does the trick and Elmo settles down for his nap.
For the rest of the day, though, Maddie reminds him of his lost toy

Every time I worry that we’re moving too fast with Maddie,
that we’re pushing her too hard with concepts that are over
her head, I get glimpses into her brain like this and know
she’s handling it just fine. And I cling to those moments
while she’s screaming and the tears are running down her face
and I start to falter, fearing she really can’t grasp what
I’m saying. Yes, she does understand right from wrong, and
yes, she understands action and consequences.

Elmo, on the other hand, is a slow learner. Poor guy.


Post a Comment

House Rules

Here are the rules for posting comments on 1mother2another.com. Posting a comment that violates these rules will result in the comment’s deletion, and you’ll probably be banned from commenting in the future.

1) Register first. If you would like to post a comment, you must create an account with us. Check out the home page to do so.

2) Constructive comments only. If you cannot maintain a respectful tone in your posting, even in disagreement, your comment will be deleted. We’re all trying to find our way in this thing and are struggling to be the best moms we can. If you disagree with something I say, feel free to politely email me. If you disagree with another reader’s posting, you’re welcome to kindly post in reply. Vitriolic diatribes will be deleted. This site is about encouraging and supporting, not tearing down and chastising.

3) Questions welcomed. If an entry raises a question, you’re welcome to email me directly or post it. Keep in mind that postings will result in public replies by strangers and not just me.

4) Don’t steal. All original writings contained within this website are under copyright protection. If you link to us, please credit us as your source and provide a link back to our website. If you're interested in using an excerpt in published material, please contact us.

5) Share your photos! We'd love to have photos from our registered readers to show on our home page under "Maddie's friends". Email us a jpeg of your little one's best photo to photos@1mother2another.com. Please, no photos from professional photographers which fall under copyright protection.