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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let's Throw Her Away

Looking at gentle Little Boy today, you wouldn't believe that he was a somewhat violent toddler prone to punching his sister on her nose, or raking his fingernails all the way down her face. Little Boy is of the sort that takes a position and won't budge afterwards. In his worldview, the sister was a B----. And there was nothing one could do to change his mind.

The Daughter was no angel herself. Quite a few years older and highly articulate, she would provoke her brother with words and taunts... and despite my constant entreaties, she would never allow him to win at anything. Indeed, she stood over his pram one week after he was born and chanted "Stupid baby! Dumb boy! Stupid baby! Dumb boy! Stupid baby! Dumb boy!"

Like any young mother, I had no idea what to do. One child was Mistress of Emotional Torture, the other was Maestro at Physical Abuse.

We were grocery shopping one day. I don't even remember what they fought about. There was a lot of yelling, and then a Little Boy tried to say something... but as he was trying to find the right words, there was more yelling... and so, Little Boy's fist came out and spoke for him instead. Biff!

I rolled my eyes and wished I could throw one or the other away. And then the light came on! Ding! Ding! Why not? I WILL throw one away.

I took The Daughter to the side and said "My love, I think your brother needs to learn not to punch you. I need you to co-operate with me. Later, when I say I have decided to throw you away, go stand by the dustbin and pretend to cry". Of course, The Daughter was thrilled to be playing a trick on her irritating sibling.

I walked back to Little Boy in his trolley.

Me: Sweetie, you don't like her huh?

Little Boy: I don't like her.

Me: Well, I don't really like her either you know. Since you don't like her and I don't like her, let's throw her in the dumpster shall we? I am so very tired of you two fighting. I don't think I can manage 2 children. Maybe other mommies can, but I cannot. I can only manage one child. Since you don't like her, I am gonna throw her away.

Little Boy: *Stunned Silence*

Me: XXXXXX come here. Your brother and I don't like you much so we've decided to get rid of you. Please go and stand next to the dumpster. We don't want you anymore.

Then I gave her a big wink and mouthed "Cry! Cry!", and so The Daughter wailed loudly as she stood there. It was very emotional. We were quite a spectacle I tell you.

I quickly wheeled Little Boy in his trolley to the carpark, and as we neared the car, he became more and more agitated. After all, as a child, he could well understand how another child would feel if abandoned thus. And I suppose he felt bad knowing that he was largely responsible for the disaster that had befallen his sister. When I opened the car door to load up the car, he softly said "I want her back!"

I ignored him.

He repeated himself a few times, louder each time and when he got to near wailing, I had finished loading up and I looked at him.

Me: Really? You're sure? You want her back?

Little Boy: *Nod Nod*

Me: I really cannot manage two fighting children you know. If I get her back for you, you're sure you won't punch her anymore?

Little Boy: *Small Voice* Yes.

Me: No lah... I think you will still punch her.

Little Boy: Nooooooo! I wooooooon't! Mommy, I woooooon't!

Me: Aiya! What a bother you are! First you don't want her and now you do. If you want her back so bad, you walk there and get her yourself. I am not wheeling you there in the trolley!

I took Little Boy out of his trolley and he toddled (diapers and all) across the carpark on his short little legs... across the wide vestibule... navigated past the forest of adult legs to locate his sister.

I followed somewhat behind.

When he found his sister, he hugged her real tight, took her by the hand and lead her over to me, and we all went to the car together with me mumbling to myself about how bothersome kids were... and how the next time there was a fight, I WOULD most certainly throw the sister away.

This was a turning point in their relationship. The Daughter was very touched that her brother cared for her enough to come back for her. She said "Gee... Mommy, I didn't know he loved me at all!!"

Little Boy realized that he loved his sister despite her being a B----. They got along much better after that though about 2 weeks later, I did throw the sister away again in the dumpster outside our house.

After that, all I needed to do was melodiously ask "Is anyone fighting out there?" and things would magically resolve themselves. And one day about a year later, whilst I was throwing a mommy tantrum at The Daughter, who was crying buckets, Little Boy sneaked into her room with a glass of warm water when he thought I wasn't looking.

That day, I felt that I had achieved something because I knew that my kids would be there for each other when grown up.

I wouldn't recommend this trick to any other parent. I took a risk and it paid off. I took a risk because I was so desperate that I didn't think it through. I guess I was just lucky things turned out the way they did because Little Boy could well have reacted differently, and jubilated at his sister's suffering.

And that would have broken my heart.


Malar said...

This is really very sweet story! To tell the truth my eyes are watery now! I miss my brother now! I better call to catch up with him!

petunialee said...

Teehee! Malar, this was an unintended effect... I had meant it to be a funny post.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

*melt* *melt*

Wen-ai said...

This is COOL parenting. I think my mum did that to me when I was a really small girl too... except that I thought she was for real! Scared the shit our of me... But yours was a planned execution to allow the siblings to bond. Mine was to punish me. ;(

petunialee said...

Fry - Hee!

petunialee said...

Wen-Ai, it's the world's worst feeling for a child to feel all alone in the world.

I could have thrown away Little Boy and made him think it was for real but I think it would have very badly frightened him... and a badly frightened kid can't learn to love.

When people get scared, they fight. I wanted them to stop fighting, I guess.

Chawanmushi said...

Tks for sharing and it's so touching.

Blur Ting said...

You're such a creative parent!

I think most kids cannot tolerate their own siblings, yet they cannot bear to part with them.

petunialee said...

Chawanmushi - Gee... thanks! I had thought the story more funny than poignant. But I guess many readers find it more poignant than touching. And that's nice too.

petunialee said...

Chawanmushi - Gee... thanks! I had thought the story more funny than poignant. But I guess many readers find it more poignant than funny. And that's nice too.

petunialee said...

Ting - Yup! I'm one crazy mama!! :-)

Open Kitchen Concept said...

You r such a cool mum..

Emily said...

Wow, I'd like to try that some day too!

petunialee said...

OKC - Thank you!!

petunialee said...

Emily - Are you sure u wanna? I thought after the act that what I had done was really risky!!