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Monday, February 20, 2006
Adventures in Babysitting
I reached a crossroads in my relationship with my neice Friday evening.

I volunteered to babysit my favorite neice and nephew so my sister and brother-in-law could enjoy a dinner out on the town without children. They asked me if Friday would be good and I said sure.

So, armed with some DVDs of Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder I hadn't seen a million times and some books from the library, I headed over.

And a good time was had by all, for the most part. Gracelyn and Davis enjoyed the DVDs a lot. But we did run into trouble when Gracelyn decided she wanted a marathon of Dora, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella before she went to bed (this was announced at 7:15 and bedtime is around 8). I told her that wasn't going to happen and she seemed to take it fairly well. We played with the GeoTrax, building an elaborate and complex railroad system on the family room floor. Then it was time to start getting ready for bed--which means that Davis gets a sippe cup of milk and he has to do his breathing treament.

Davis was funny to try to get into bed. He would basically say no he didn't want to do whatever we were doing--breathing treatment, milk, pjs, etc..but he'd be saying it right as he was doing it. The funniest protest was the I don't want to go to bed as he pulls the covers up over himself and his head hits the pillow.

Gracelyn was not keen on the idea of going to bed, probably becuase we'd only got through a few minutes of Ariel and hadn't even cracked Cinderella. I told her that it was bed time and I wrangled her upstairs. Not an easy task, but thankfully she's only four, so I can pick her up and carry her when she's having a tantrum. Now, putting Gracelyn to bed is like putting toothpaste back into the tube. I've babysat many times and no matter what condition you set, she has some other ones she wants in an attempt to stall the inevitable.

But Friday night it was beyond stalling tactics. It was open defiance, including trying to run out of her room and run back downstairs to watch more Ariel. I tried to not "fight" her but it was hard when she's squirming and won't do things like put on her pajamas or hold still while I try to get her hair of the ponytail holders. Finally, I sat her on the bed and told her that she needed to put on her pajamas before I counted to three or else she'd get a spanking.

See, in the past just the threat of counting to three would make her wake up and realize--Uncle Michael is serious about this and she'd follow my instructions. I guess Friday she felt it was time to see who'd call whose bluff. So, I counted to three and she just looked at me as it to say, "OK, now what? We both know you won't do it."

"Gracelyn, put on your pajamas or I'll spank you," I said.

"No," she replied.

And was then shocked when I turned her over and swatted her once on the behind. Not hard at all, but I think it was more the shock than anything. She burst into tears and I felt like a complete failure as an authority figure and uncle. But she then proceeded to put on her pjs and get into bed. She did stop crying so I could read her a story and she snuggled in, assuring me she was waiting for Mommy to come home to say good night to.

Needless to say, I felt really bad about it. I did tell my sister and brother-in-law what I'd done. I know they've used a spanking as punishment for her in the past...I've witnessed it. I just had always hoped deep down that Uncle Michael would never have to resort to using it.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/20/2006 09:29:00 AM | |
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