Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Great Power Struggle

Now before I get too far into this I want to say that despite my constant battle with my STBX’s actions, I do think she is a very good mother. That’s one very important thing that I don’t have to worry too much about. However, here’s where my son benefits from having two parents, whether he realizes it or not. This post isn’t a complaint about my STBX, it’s a post about stepping up to the plate when your co-parent (how’s that for a word) is having trouble.

My son is now two and a half, an age I’ve heard strikes fear into some parent’s hearts. Luckily, he’s a great little boy and gives me almost no problems. I find that not approaching most things as a “do as I say” situation helps a lot with him when I need him to do something. He doesn’t like to take medicine – no matter how good it tastes. The minute he sees the little medicine syringe come out he says “No!” and won’t let it near his mouth. If you somehow do manage to get the medicine into his mouth, he immediately spits it out, usually all over you.

Saturday I went to pick him up and the STBX told me that he still had an ear infection and that he was on another course of antibiotic, mainly because he refused to take his other courses. She was telling me how difficult it was to get him to take the medicine and that it was a “serious power struggle” between them. I asked her what she was doing and she said she’d just keep trying until he took a little bit of it. She had brought out the medicine and the syringe, and, of course, once he saw it he ran to me for “protection” from the medicine.

She handed me the syringe and said that maybe he’d take it from me. I knew the chances of this were small, and my guess was right on the mark. I decided that this would never work and asked her to get his sippy cup for me. She told me that it would never work because he’d know it was the medicine, and that even if it did he wouldn’t get enough medicine. There’s always a little bit of liquid that cannot be gotten out of the sippy cup. I asked her if she’d diluted it and she said that she hadn’t because it wouldn’t work.

I finally convinced her to go fill the sippy cup about three-quarters full with his juice mix, and I poured the medicine into the cup. He took two sips and screwed up his face as he looked at the cup suspiciously. He knew something was different, but wasn’t sure what. STBX was now angry, claiming we’d just wasted his medicine, but I told her that I’d take it with me and he’d drink it with lunch. It worked like a charm. Once he got thirsty he just drank it, similar to what he does with milk. I just didn’t make it a big deal. I just set the cup in front of him and let him take it when he wanted. By the end of the meal he’d finished it and I’d refilled it so that he got the majority of his medicine.

This time I was able to successfully avoid the power struggle, but I know that it won’t always be possible. Like when he tries to put the proverbial peanut butter sandwich into the VCR. You pretty much have to act on that one right away.

The strangest thing to me is that when the STBX heard that he’d taken all of his medicine she got angry. At the time it made no sense to me at all that she get mad, but now that I think about it maybe it was that she was embarrassed that she hadn’t thought of the solution. Or maybe she thought that my solving the problem made her a bad parent. Of course, she shouldn’t feel embarrassed or feel that she’s a bad parent, but I guess that’s unavoidable sometimes.

I’m wondering if the whole ear infection thing is what hit me. I’m still quite tired, but I’m able to move around much more now. If I don’t get completely cleared up soon, though, I’ll have to go to the doctor and get a sippy cup full of medicine.