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When the ante goes up up up and away

Parenting a four-year-old offers a host of challenges that, as it turns out, we’re fairly unequipped to handle.

Case in point:
My husband took my older daughter, Audrey shopping for clothing. In order to secure her cooperation in the fitting room, he promised her a sparkly pair of fairy wings she had spotted. Later that night, after she tried to physically assault her younger sister, Mira, my husband took away the fairy wings as a punishment. After an hour, he returned them to her.

The following night, my dear, sweet eldest tried to stick her thumb into her sister’s eye when she wouldn’t hand over a cup of water. We sentenced her to a time out. Later, I overheard copious hysterics while my husband was doing bathtime. Later, he came down looking sheepish and recounted the following dialogue.

Audrey: Well, Dad. I guess it wasn’t so bad that I tried to poke out Mira’s eye. You didn’t take away my fairy wings.

Dad: Maybe next time, I will take them away.

Audrey: If you take them away, I will climb up on a chair and get them back.

Dad: Then I’ll hide them.

Audrey (imperiously): So then I’ll find them.

Dad: Well maybe I’ll throw them in the river, and they’ll float into the ocean and a shark will eat them.

This is where Audrey became immediately inconsolable.

The moral of the story is, never threaten a young child with sharks. And also, as a parent it’s important to act your age, not your shoe size.

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