Long Road Part 2

August 27th, 2014 § 4 Comments

We’ve all seen this. And mostly, I’m guessing it’s fairly innocuous – especially, if it’s inconsistent with the rest of a given child’s experience. It does however illustrate how caring, thoughtful parents can for the sake of expediency turn to “techniques” that harness negative motivations.

A mother who’s obviously had a long day makes her last stop to pick up a prescription at one of those mega drug stores. On display next to the pharmacy is a rack of stuffed animals. While waiting for the prescription to be filled, her three-year old daughter rummages through the stuffed animals and settles on a pink pig. The mother happily allows for the distraction thinking, “Ah … a moment to myself …”

After a short wait, the prescription is filled. Already concerned about the groceries warming in the car, she tells her daughter to get moving. The call to move is ignored. In those five minutes, an unbreakable bond has formed between the girl and the pig. She’s not leaving without the pig. The girl is told in no uncertain terms to drop the pig and follow. Once again, the mother is ignored. Instead of compliance, she gets,
Mom, can I have this?
No. Honey, we need to go. The ice cream is melting in the car.
But mom, I want it.

Having neither the time nor the energy to reason with a three year old, the mother rips the pig from her daughter’s hand, grabs her by the arm and begins to proceed to the door. The little girl goes limp – the dreaded “dead weight” move.

Exasperated, the mother turns to the threat of abandonment. “Okay, I’m going. Bye.” She turns and begins to walk away. Of course she’ll glance back, but she knows she has to sell the abandonment to get the result. Before she’s out of sight, her daughter will cave. Has to. There’s too much a stake. “Hell with the pink pig, I need my mommy.”

For a child, abandonment is on a short list of the scariest possible things. The terror of it will garner immediate results, but at what price? Like I said, good chance this one is mostly innocuous. Mostly … I think. Couldn’t be sure, so we decided early on that we’re never going to do it. The commitment we made stems from our belief that the source matters. The thing to which their actions can be traced lies in that mysterious place where self and life are realized. Yeah, I think it’s worth it … think we’ll be taking the long road.

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