One of the hardest things about being a parent (to me) is that there is no clear wrong or right way to go about raising your child. (Okay, I can think of more than a few definite "wrong" things to do, but you get what I mean.)
In general, I am not a big discipliner. I don't let Cade give me crap, but I'm pretty lax with the whole discipline thing. Brandon is more the Eenie Meanie Parent, and he's better at actually punishing Cade when Cade does something he shouldn't do. In other words, Cade is much more "afraid" of Dad than Mom. He knows that I'm a softie, and usually he plays that to his advantage. It's just...I know how sensitive he is. Because I was too as a kid, and so I guess I take it easy on him because I feel bad that he has some wicked bad anxiety and because I seem to think that I can some how rationally talk to a FIVE YEAR OLD about what he did wrong, and about how he should avoid it in the future, etc. Doesn't usually work, but somehow, I keep trying to do this.
Tonight Cade had an indoor soccer game. Before we left for the game, he was playing the Xbox. It was kind of hard to get him to turn it off to leave, but he eventually did it and everything was okay and we went to the game. Cade was practicing with his teammates before the game started, and someone on his team stole the ball away from him. And that, somehow, must have done Cade in, because right then and there he started crying and threw himself down on the bench and proclaimed to us that he wasn't going to play. I didn't press anything, just let him kind of be sad for a minute, and I hoped he'd get up on his own volition and join his teammates to play. He didn't. He kept insisting that he didn't want to play, that he wanted to go home and play Xbox. Brandon and I patiently told him (at least at first) that he needed to play his game, and then he could go home and play Xbox. He dug his stubborn little heels in and said resolutely that he wouldn't play, that he didn't want to. Well, by now the game had started. He was still upset and crying and wanting to go home. We told him that if we did indeed have to go home because he wouldn't play, then he wouldn't be playing the Xbox or Wii at all that night, because if he wasn't going to play soccer, then there were going to be consequences. He didn't care, and wouldn't go in, even after his coach asked him twice to sub in.
Meanwhile, Brandon and I are both pretty mortified that our kid is having a crying meltdown in front of all the other parents. Everyone was staring. I didn't know what to do, and I'll admit I was pretty mad at Cade. He had been making such good progress with soccer, and it's like all at once he was suddenly regressing and going back to his old ways of being "too scared" and "too tired" and "too bored" to play. I didn't understand where all this was coming from, but I was getting tired of seeing Cade cry and seeing everyone stare and probably judge us.
So Brandon and I were done. We told Cade that he had made his decision, and that we were leaving, and that as a result, he couldn't play Xbox or Wii. We picked up the kids and headed to the car while every damn person in the place stared. When we got to the car, and started to drive home, I think he figured out that we were serious, and were making good on the consequences we had told him would happen. He said he was ready to go back and play, but we told him it was too late. We told him we hoped he'd make the right decision next week.
So here I sit, typing this, while Cade cries and whines that he's bored and wants to play Xbox. Here I sit with a kid who's really upset. Here I sit, wondering if we did the right thing.
But I honestly didn't know what else to do. Some people may say we were too hard on him to actually leave the game, I don't know. But parenting is tricky, and it sucks that kids don't come with instruction manuals. So, mostly, here I sit, wishing I knew really what to do, how to better raise my child.