Kendi has this game she plays with her father (only her father doesn’t realize it’s a game) Usually goes something like this:
Martin: ‘Kendi, come’
Kendi: Comes into the room and stands as far away as she can from him.
Martin: A bit louder and getting annoyed ‘Kendi, come here. Now!’
Martin: Very annoyed now ‘Kendi, I need you to come here right now. I’m not playing. Do you hear me?’
Kendi ‘Mhmm’ And turns to leave.
Martin: Now yelling ‘Kendi! I said come here. Kiboko’ (threatens her with a spanking)
Kendi: Turning back to face him, ‘Badata?’
Martin: ‘Yes, Kiboko. Come here’
Martin: ‘Ah! Kendi, come here!’
Kendi: Now singing, ‘Badata, badata, badata’
Martin: ‘Aargh! Why do you do this to me?!’
Kendi: While still singing, tries to run past him
Martin: He catches her and the game is up.
Until next time
‘You know she’s testing you honey?’ I offered the last time this happened. ‘Really?’ he asked, like as if this was something new that he had never considered. ‘Yes, love, she knows you will get annoyed at some point. She’s trying to figure out just at what point that will happen. She will get her ‘big splash’ and all will be right in the world. The thing with you is, you give her that reaction as soon as she ‘asks’ for it. It’s hilarious.’
He wanted to know, ‘so, what should I do?’
‘Don’t get mad,’ I replied, ‘Just be patient, don’t get mad, change the technique, try something else, but don’t get mad.’
The thing with children (and indeed adults too), that I once learned in a child discipline course I did a long time ago, is that they are always looking for that ‘big splash’, that one reaction that will prove that they wield a certain amount of power. The bigger the ‘splash’, the more the power. The minute you give them that, they have won and the game is up.
The trick, I find with Kendi is to look for a middle ground that both of us are happy with.
Sometimes, it’s only me happy, sometimes it’s both of us. But it’s never just her happy with the result. I decided long ago that I was going to be the leader of us. I will set the pace and Kendi will follow. She will trust me more if she knows that mummy is constant. In that, I find, for us, there is workability.