Power Plays

power plays

So anyone with children old enough to form one syllable words has no doubt experienced what I’m talking about. Power Plays. These are utilized by parents and children alike. Bean is a pro as far as D is concerned, less so successful with me, unless you count me questioning why I ever thought bringing a tiny dictator into the world was ever a good idea as a success.

Every kid has an angle, a niche, that they feel is their strength and they will exploit it to the best of their astonishing abilities. Some kids throw tantrums, others prefer a more stoic approach. Then there’s the dramatics, the criers, the screamers (often these are also criers), the bargainers, the guilt-trippers. The list goes on and on. If you’re lucky, you might not have to deal with this until the teenage years, but I’ve heard tell of parents that have to deal with it with kids as young as 2. Um no. Hell no. Just No

Bean tries with me. There was a time in my mothering life that I wasn’t so resolute. But that was long ago and I refuse to raise an ungrateful entitled child. So Bean and I go head to head often. At least once a week. It’s usually not serious, usually over something like brushing her teeth. She whines and fusses, I stand my ground, say my peace and walk away. She ends up brushing her teeth and all is well. But every once in a while, there’s a big one. A blow-out of epic proportions. Tonight was one of those nights.

Upon leaving Scarlett and Clark’s house (grandparents), D asked Bean for a hug & kiss before he got in his car (we drove separately). She refused and then instantly changed her mind. This is a routine for her. It’s her initial Power Play. It lets her control the situation. She plays this game with him often. He works a lot. He works shitty hours. So they don’t get to see each other as often as either one would like. So she feels the need to assert her influence over him and see how long she can keep him hanging. It’s gotten better, but not without (mental) battle wounds, mostly inflicted on D and me to the tune of “You’re a mean mommy, I hate you, I don’t want you anymore, you’re not nice, etc”. It starts to lose its sting after a while though. So back to the Power Play. The back and forth went on in the driveway for about 7 minutes. That’s about 6 minutes too long in my book. But D hates the idea of disappointing her and leaving her upset. So the back and forth continues. He asks her “Do you want a hug and kiss?” she responds with “I don’t know.” Again, that doesn’t fly with me. It’s a yes or no question. If you don’t know, I’ll make the decision for you. The power play escalated into her in hysterics and D frustrated. Bean and I left and she proceeded to scream at me until I told her that she wasn’t to make a sound until we got home. Harsh? Maybe, but it’s better than being screamed at by a person a fraction of my size. The bad behavior continued through her bath and bedtime. She was sent to bed immediately after her bath where she proceeded to draw D into another Power Play lasting about 15 minutes. All this over a hug and a kiss.

This is just one type of Power Play, there are others:

The Statue: This approach is often favored by older kids who have a little more of a grasp on psychological warfare. They think that by withholding interaction they are punishing the parents. HAHAHA are you kidding me?! I can’t wait for this tactic to take effect. My kid will intentionally sit her room and brood in silence? Bring it on!

The Screamer: It’s pretty self-explanatory. This approach is a favorite among toddlers and young girls. Mainly because that demographic can reach octaves that can cause an adult’s brain to hemorrhage. This Power Play has surprising stamina, even though it requires a great physical effort on the child’s part. The good thing is that after the Play is over, the Screamer is pretty much exhausted.

The Puppy Dog Eyes: Watch out for these if you’re emotional, pregnant, or even the slightest bit inclined to stop and snuggle with puppies at adoption fairs just for fun. The kids who utilize this tactic are usually pretty good at guessing who the weapon will work on to their benefit. They have perfected the head tilt, the chin quiver, and the sad eye upward gaze. This approach is especially effective if the perpetrator has brown eyes as they more closely resemble actual puppy eyes. Just say no, or get a spray bottle filled with water. It works in training real puppies, why not kids 🙂

The Hurricane: Imagine the damage a hurricane will cause. Now shrink it down and contain it in your house. Stuffed animals thrown forcefully about, doors slammed with the force of storm worthy winds and a path a general destruction and disarray left in its path.

The Teeter Totter: This is Bean. It’s so frustrating. She wants something, but the terms aren’t exactly to her liking, so now she doesn’t want it. Oh wait, she does! Oh no she changed her mind again. Hold on, she wants it again. Never mind she doesn’t. This can go on and on, indefinitely. It has the ability to wear down the mental resolve of any parent. I actually have caught myself saying “whatever” more often lately because I am just worn down from her back and forth and her ever fickle and touchy demeanor.

The Spazz: This one is a combination of the Screamer and the hurricane in addition to adding a physical characteristic. Usually stomping their feet or even full on body tantrum. They will hold their breath to make a point. They will work themselves into complete exhaustion. They know no bounds and have no shame. Beware the Spazz. Avoid at all costs. Appease at any cost. Otherwise you won’t be able to have nice things.

The Hail Mary: Welcome to a special level of Hell. This special Power Play is reserved only for those with a strong will to live. Otherwise you might not survive. The Hail Mary is the last ditch effort. Every child has a Modus Operandi, a favorite if you will. But the Hail Mary can and will be used by every child at some point in their lives. They may save it for when they are 16 bargaining for a car. Or 18 begging for an off campus apartment in college. Or 6, desperately wanting Daddy to bend to her will. No matter the circumstances, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES give in. If you do, you will set yourself back years. And Your child will smell the weakness and use it against you for the rest of their life, and they will more than likely outlive you.

No matter the reason, remember who the boss is. It most certainly is not the tiny totalitarian brooding in his/her room right now.

Good luck, keep your hands and arms inside until the ride comes to a complete stop and stick your toes in the sand when it’s all over