The Joy of Disobedience

NAUGHTY: guilty of disobedience or misbehavior

Last night, Son and Daughter wouldn’t listen to a word I said.  No matter what I said, they did the opposite.  It was awesome.  Truly.  We had a blast.

You see, they had requested this game.  They wanted to have a night of disobeying.  So, I did my part and issued orders and instructions for them to disobey:

“Keep your clothes on!”

“Make sure you stay dry!”

“Only grown-ups get to use washcloths.”

“Stay where you are until next Tuesday.”

“Take all of your toys out and put them on the floor.”

“No pajamas allowed.”

“I don’t want to see any kids on the couch.”

On and on it went.  Me barking orders and them disobeying.  Before I knew it, I had two children bathed, in pajamas and on the couch for bedtime stories.  And, they were delighted.  I thought I was going to lose Daughter at one point when she started fussing about the bubbles in the bath (the girl does NOT like bubbles in her bath – she’s a purist).  But, all it took was a stern warning that I wanted to hear some fussing and whining for her to quit and start laughing.  

For about an hour, they were united as a team against mommy.  There was much laughter as they went about their naughty tasks: taking a bath, cleaning their room, and getting ready for bedtime reading.  Even though Son and Daughter knew it was a game and I was saying the opposite of what I wanted to happen, they were nearly drunk on the delight of disobeying.  It was fun to watch.  And, it served its purpose.  We accomplished everything we needed to do in record time. 

I used a similar strategy a couple of weeks ago when Son was starting to potty talk out of boredom.  Stealing a trick from a friend, I offered up a Potty Talk Extravaganza.  I gave Son three minutes to say as many potty words as he could.  So, he strung together every potty talk word he could think of (“fart” was prominently featured) and laughed uncontrollably for three minutes.  Then, I called time and we went back to normal. 

These episodes have reminded me of the joy of disobedience and the power of silliness.  Most of us get told what to do more often than we would like.  We all need a break from the rules every now and again.  A chance to be defiant and naughty; a chance to thumb our noses at authority. 

During the Disobedience Extravaganza I couldn’t help but notice that while I was giving “opposite” orders last night, they were simply taking the place of the real orders I typically give – take your clothes off, get in the bath, let me wash your hair, get out of the bath, put on your pajamas, clean up your toys, choose your books, etc.   I’ve read stats on the number of requests for her attention that a mom of young children receives each day, but this highlighted for me the number of instructions and requests for compliance I issue to my children each day.  No wonder they need a break!

I need to remember to build in more chances for my kids to be naughty on purpose.  It seemed to work like a pressure release valve, relieving the tensions and resentments that were beginning to build up from always being on the receiving end of instructions and orders.  It was a good recalibration for all of us – it gave Son and Daughter the freedom to disobey and it highlighted for me how tiresome it must be to have someone dictating so many of your movements.


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