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Problems With Parenting - Putting On Shoes And Socks

Monday 1st June 2020

I need my children aged 5 and 2 and a half to put on their shoes and socks so that we can walk the dog.


I am very tired. But I also desperately want to be reasonable.  And for the dog walk to be fun (or at least as un-stressful as possible). 


I have done a two minute and a one minute warning that I am turning off the television now. I have put their shoes and socks on the bottom step of the stairs, ready for them to sit down and do it.


“OK kids, that’s two minutes. Time to put shoes and socks on.” I turn off the television. 


They both howl ‘Noooo!’ and lie on the floor.


‘Come on please. It will be fun. And the sooner we go, the sooner we can come back and do something you do want to do. Come on. Now. Please.’


The 5yo sighs but gets up and sits on the step and starts putting shoes and socks on. She has become good at bargaining and is probably working out what she can ask for next.


The 2yo adamantly refuses to come and put shoes and socks on. He gets tearful when I say it’s what we have to do next.


I don’t know what my next move should be…


·      I don’t want to keep saying please and explaining patiently why it would be helpful, like the nice parenting book says to do.

·      I don’t want to yell ‘I’m in charge!’ count to 3 and then drag him out on 3 to show I mean business like the less nice parenting book says to do.

·      I don’t want to keep honouring his feelings while somehow maintaining my own boundaries but before I reach my limits, like that good psychology parenting book says to do. (Because I still don’t know how) and it seems like it might take ages, but we have to go now.

·      And I definitely don’t want to just smack him like my own upbringing would tell me to do.


I have no energy, but for some reason I pretend to be a horse. 


These kids love it when I’m a horse. This way the 2yo can ride all the way to the bottom step and putting his shoes and socks on will seem like the exciting first step of an adventure. He jumps aboard, laughing.


I’m a genius, right? Wrong.


The 5yo, who has been happily (if reluctantly) putting her shoes on, now feels outraged that her obedience has resulted in her missing out on a horsey ride. 


She immediately takes her shoes back off, yells ‘do that to me!’ rushes back over to us and climbs on too.


OK, cool. I mean, I didn’t have time to make sure they’re both on properly because this is now an adhoc plan, but we’re moving in the right direction back towards the shoes… take the win, right?


‘OK, careful,’ I say, as they giggle at the bottom step. The 5yo gets down a bit fast and before I can stop it the 2yo has slid the opposite direction, banging his head smack down on the wooden floor.


He scream cries while I clutch him and feel his head for cracks, apologising profusely. He stops crying and we decide he isn’t concussed or seriously injured afterall. 


I pulled a horsey ride out of my exhausted wazoo to make my kid happy, and it nearly smashed his head in. The irony.


Homer Simpson is right. The lesson is never try.

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