Some old school Grandma's love to say that babies are manipulative; they are born with this skill. They know your weaknesses and they will exploit it every step of the way. You look at your newborn with her big eyes and sweet innocence and wonder how anyone could believe her to be so devious. She's far too little to be capable of such scheming. Fast forward six months and many sleepless nights, you start to wonder whether the notion that newborns are Machiavellian is more accurate than it originally seemed. You start to wonder if your baby is trying to systematically deconstruct your sanity through exhaustion and walls of screams.
The theory of kids being manipulative is one that I give credence to when things are rough. When it seems that everything my kids do tends towards destructive or inconvenient ends. Why else would they dump any entire carton of milk on the kitchen floor right after I mopped it if not to make my life hell? It seems like they're trying to wear me down so I have no energy to resist their demands to go to the park or a movie, eat ten scoops of ice cream, and stay up until midnight. After a good nights sleep or even fifteen minutes to decompress I realize how ludicrous this idea is. I go back to seeing my kids as just kids.
One thing I do believe, though, is that my kids are 100% unreliable. Their word should never be trusted. Here are a few ways in which my kids consistently lack follow-through.
1. "If you let me watch one more episode, I will go right to bed." TV is sometimes an absolute godsend. It keeps my kids occupied while I get work done or read. They are captivated by the screen and will not ask any questions while it's on. The TV is often good leverage, as well. If they want to watch TV, they have to earn it through chores or positive behavior. TV watching isn't a given. Unfortunately, their obsession with the screen also leads to some of the greatest meltdowns on record. The minute it's turned off, they lose their minds. Even allowing them to watch that extra episode does no good. Despite the promise that they will make the transition away from the TV easy, they will always lose their shit.
2. "Ok, I understand we have five minutes left at the park. We'll be ready to go when the timer goes off." No matter how many warnings I give them, how many times they acknowledge my warnings, or how many times they assure me they'll be ready to go when the timer goes off, they are always so shocked when it's time to leave the park. With all the feet dragging, we always end up staying at the park for an extra fifteen minutes. This is why I always set the timer fifteen minutes early. I know your game, kids. You will never outwit me on this one. (Until you learn how to read time. Then, you will totally be able to match wits with me).
3. I won't try to come into the bathroom the minute you go in there." My kids will immediately try enter the bathroom the minute I close the door no matter how many times they promise me they won't. If I'm in the shower and I forgot to lock the door, they will come in, open the shower door, and talk and talk and talk. If I remembered to lock the door, they will knock and knock and knock and yell until that door is opened.
Kids are completely unreliable. 10 times out of 10, they will go back on their word. Sometimes, they'll even renege before they're done saying the promise. ("Ok mommy, I won't knock over this stack of laundry you just folded," which is said as they push it off the bed). The crazy thing is that I think they mostly have every intention of doing what they say they're going to do. They just happen to realize that they agreed to something that has really crappy terms and they want to change their minds.