My youngest son William is easy to smile and has a magnetic personality. He has a spirit that you hope never breaks; however, that strong spirit comes with a stubborn streak that can be so frustrating at times. When he was little, he never believed something you told him unless he already believed it first or he tested it out for himself. For example, my sister and nieces were visiting one weekend, and they left their hot flat iron on the bathroom sink's counter to cool off. I noticed William (my own Curious George) watching them intently with a focus on that flat iron, so I warned him to not touch it because it would burn him. He said very innocently that he would not touch it which should have been my first clue. We all went downstairs for breakfast leaving the bathroom clean up for later, and William sat on his bedroom floor playing with his toys. The hot flat iron forgotten by all. When breakfast was ready, I called for William to come eat, but he did not respond. After a couple of minutes, I climbed the stairs to search for him. When I saw his bedroom door closed, I started to become suspicious. I quickly opened the door to find William silently crying on the floor holding his right hand against his chest. I scooped him up in my arms and asked what was wrong. Between sniffles, he admitted that he did not believe the flat iron would hurt him if he touched it and touched it to prove me wrong. He stayed in his room because he did not want to get in trouble. I kissed away his tears, hugged him tight, and put burn cream on the little red whelp that had appeared in the palm of his hand. His natural consequence for not listening to me was enough punishment for the five year old.
As he grew older, William's stubbornness or curiosity often got him into trouble, and I had to learn to be creative in my ways to get him to see other perspectives. When William was about seven, he and his brother Kaleb were in Cub Scouts, and we were preparing for a camping trip to a state park. Somehow we got on a discussion about things posted on the internet were not always true. William was insistent that everything on the internet was true because the people would not be allowed to post lies. No amount of my reasoning was going to make a difference in his little mind. We finished packing for our trip and began our two hour journey to the state park. After a long day of setting up camp and exploring, all the cub scouts and their families settled under the full moon around our camp fire to roast marshmallows and to tell scary stories. Some of the boys took turns telling a story, and William asked me to tell one of my scary stories. I explained that I did not have my own story but that I did have a story I read about on the internet when I was researching the state park.
According to the internet story. . .
Before the government claimed the land to develop a state park, the land belonged to a family who had built a tiny cottage and farmed the land in the late 1800's. The young couple had two boys. One was nine, and the other boy was 7. One night, the seven year old woke up needing to use the bathroom which meant he would need to go outside to use the outhouse across the yard. His older brother woke up and reminded him to take a candle to see by, but the boy thought he did not need to listen to his brother because the moon was full which meant he would be able to see just fine. The boy made it to the outhouse by the light of the moon, but while he was taking care of his business, a deep, thick fog settled around the farm. The little boy started back to the house but was quickly disoriented without a light to guide him. He disappeared into the fog to never be seen again. But, legend has it on a full moon, you can see the little boy at the state park walking through the field looking for his way home.
After I finish telling the story, William asked if that story is true. I responded that didn't he say everything on the internet was true. As we are cleaning the campsite preparing for bed, I point out a figure in the field walking towards the woods. William's eyes grow large, and he asks again if the story is true. My response remained the same. . . Didn't he say everything on the internet is true? When we climbed into the tent, William finally declared that everything on the internet was not true so the story was not true. Right? Then he climbed into my bed refusing to sleep by the windows of the tent. I never had to deal again with him arguing that everything on the internet was true.
No, I am not a horrible parent, just a creative one who knows what works with her son. That son still enjoys a good scary story to this day.