Kids each have their own personality. That seems obvious, but sometimes it’ll shock you. You raise them basically the same way. Same rules, same consequences, same attention, read them a lot of the same books etc. But even before they walk and talk, they start to be their own person.
My oldest, Rebecca, was the most rebellious and defiant. Michael came next, my only boy, and he was quieter, more compliant, but he would randomly just do something that made you wonder where he left his brain. Nichole was, well, the brattiest. Still is, in fact. Mouthy and whiny and sulky when in a bad mood.
Then came Abigail. Abbie is just plain stubborn. She’s five years younger than Nichole, and I wasn’t ever prepared for just how determined she could be as a very small child. Which brings us to somewhere around her sixth birthday. A bit before, I think.
We were headed out shopping somewhere and Abigail decided she wasn’t going. Well, Rebecca wasn’t home to watch her, Michael needed to go with us to try new shoes on, and Nichole was definitely not up to babysitting yet. So Abbie was just going to have to come with us, like it or not.
She voted not. And she didn’t just not come – she sat on the floor between her bed and the wall, and I had to physically go back there and get her. And as I lifted her up, I remember her looking at me, not in defiance but exasperation, and saying: “I’m getting a spanking, right?”
She was right – and it wasn’t an easy one either. My hand was stinging by the time I pulled her shorts back up and she was crying hard. I gave her a few minutes to compose herself and then we left, the little one still rather reluctantly.
Once we got to the store, Abigail was still making it clear she didn’t want to be there. She wasn’t whining like Nichole would have, she wasn’t fighting like Rebecca, and she wasn’t being impulsive like Michael. No – she was just walking slow, ignoring suggestions of things she might like and just generally trying to gum up the works, as it were.
I finally lost my patience, gave Michael and Nichole some very clear instructions where to wait for me and took Abigail out to the car – very much wishing I had my spoon with me. For the second time in less than 90 minutes I pulled her shorts down, and this time her panties followed and I painted her backside red. Again, she had a big cry.
When Abigail had calmed down, I told her she had two choices – she could either get with the programme, or I was going to take the spoon to her behind when we got home.
For the next hour or so she was, well, not happy but at least cowed a bit. We got Michael his new shoes and both the girls got some new clothes. We were almost finished but back in the car, I told the children that we just needed to stop at the drug store to pick up a prescription for their dad.
It was then that this tiny little mule apparently hit her limit and she yelled out: “Oh my gosh! When are we going to be done?”
I couldn’t help it – I laughed. So did her siblings. It took me a minute to compose myself, and I was really struggling to be the strict, ‘in control’ mom I usually am.
When I finally turned towards Abigail, she had gone pale and quiet. She hung her head and said: “I tried, mommy. I know – the spoon”.
It took less than 10 minutes to get what I needed at the drug store. And when we got home? Well, I was true to my promise and her little tush got lit up – but I’ll never, ever forget how funny that display of stubbornness was.
Of course, as Abigail got into her tweens and early teens, she got better at controlling it – but she still had that stubborn streak, and needed her bottom warmed more than occasionally.