My daughter was a tough cookie. Fearless, adventurous, too smart for her own good, and too stubborn to learn from other people's experiences. Only her own.
When she was just 4 years old, one day I asked her to help me after the dinner and wash her own cup. In my family, children were taught to help and do some age-appropriate chores early.
Not this one. "Oh, so you think you are the queen and I am your servant?"- declared the little one - "I am NOT washing that cup!"
What an act of civil disobedience. Oh well...
"Well then, I am not washing your dirty socks. You go do it yourself."
We owned a prehistoric washing machine that could never get rid of stains on her tiny socks. Socks were always dirty because she refused to wear slippers on the old old floor.
I gave her a piece of soap and escorted her to the sink.
As she was rubbing her socks with soap, and stubborn stains were not going away, I was in the philosophic mood:
"You see," said I, "you have done a silly exchange. I used to do a hard job, an adult job, and I gave you an easy job because you were a kid. But you did not want to help, so now you are doing a hard job for yourself, and I am going to wash your cup. Thank you for taking care of your dirty socks. I have five more pairs in the laundry bin."
It did not take her long to realize her mistake, and the negotiation began. "Mooooooom," I heard, "how about I wash your cup and my cup and you keep your adult job?"
After saying "No, but washing cups is so much fun!", I finally agreed.
The lesson is that I could have chosen two simpler ways to deal with the situation: just wash that cup, or push her to do it. But I did not, and I gave her a chance to receive the consequences of her action right away, and learn though experience.
And now this is a funny family story that my 19 year old daughter still remembers. "Mom," she said very recently,"Thank you for raising me a normal sensible person, not like those kids I know who are totally spoiled and given everything they demand."
Well, to be honest, I never thought I would live to hear something like this.
Parenting can be rewarding, much later after you go through these countless parenting moments.