You all know what I'm talking about. "Don't touch this... don't don't there... don't do that." It doesn't matter what it is. Look at Adam and Eve! That apple was taken from the ONE tree they weren't supposed to touch! Here's the truth: if you were told NOT to do it, that is, without doubt, the one thing you want to do.
This fact is enhanced with children.
I've read that parents should create one room in the house where your kids are free to play without hearing the word "no" at every turn. Sounds reasonable, right? But with a two-bedroom apartment, we only have so much room to give up! So I've designated my dining and living rooms for this purpose. There are two gates to separate the dining room from the kitchen as well as their bedroom. I only let them into the baby-proofed kitchen when I feel like cleaning up all of the Tupperware they so happily through about the room. They have free reign in their space and seem more than happy to play within its limits. Most of the time, anyway.
Our couch is at the end of the living room and my boys love climbing up, jumping on and sliding off of our couch. I had to adjust my strategy when they started getting so confident. "Alright, I can't keep this from them forever," I thought. "If they're going to climb on this, I better teach them how to get down." Finally, they learned. I don't even rush over when I see them making their way down anymore. They've got it.
Then, they started going toward the arms of the couch. Oi vey. This made me a lot more nervous because it's a long way to fall and they almost always wanted to go down head-first. Definitely not. So I've been trying to reinforce how to go down these high arms feet-first. Admittedly, this has been a lot harder than just going down off the seat of the couch. And they know it.
Whenever I see them headed toward the arms (usually to play with the light switch,) I rush over to help guide them down. Now, they expect it. They've learned that the fastest way to get mommy's attention (as well as her presence) is to head toward the "forbidden," which will undoubtedly, send her running. And.it's.driving.me.nuts.
Yesterday, I came in from the kitchen to see Jonathan on the couch, running from side to side. No big deal. I've matted blankets and foam mats on the floor beneath him in case he fell. But when he saw me, he smiled that mischievious little smile and immediately ran to the arm of the couch. That little stinker.
Now, I'm normally a pretty relaxed mom. I let my boys fall because I want them to know how to do it correctly. I'd rather have them do it when I'm around than experiment with greater heights when I'm not. I do all I can to make our surrounding a safe one, so when my boys fall, I know they won't get more than a bump or a scratch. Plus, there's no way I can humanly be in two places at once. If my boys are going to be adventurous, they're just going to have to learn how to get back up and keep going.
Jonathan knew that I would rush over to his aid and assist him in his maneauver toward the ground. But this time, I resisted. I didn't want him to expect me to be there. He teased me with a smile for a few moments as he suspended himself in the air (feet-first, I might add) with his feet dangling toward the ground. I just smiled back, casually flipping through a picture book. He waited another moment, disappointed that his trick didn't yield any fruit. So he let go. His feet hit the floor and then he fell back, hitting his head on the foam mat.
I knew he was fine. All moms know the difference between the smack-WAAAAAAAH cry and the bump-waaaaaa cry. This was definitely the latter. He whimpered a little and walked over to me with his head in his hand. I held him and hugged him, then set him back on his feet. He watched Ben play and then ran over to join him.
Aha, I did it!
By ignoring his cry for attention, the allure had vanished. Somehow, the forbidden had become not as much fun. This was yesterday. He's tested me two more times today, but I did the same thing and eventually, he lost interest. Yesssssss.
Now, I'm not saying that we should ignore our babies' cries for help and I am NOT saying we should always let them fall just so they know how it feels. But there is something to be said for ignoring those times when we know we are being tested. When we are being watched. Our kids want to know the boundaries. They need to know the limits. But sometimes, I think a more natural consequence is appropriate than any consequence we could create.
Especially when you have two very curious, mischievious little minds like I do :)