That is how many times I put Levi back in his bed.
It has been a while since I have had such a persistent two year old. I will not call him stubborn. Or obstinate. Or defiant. Or headstrong. Persistent has a much nicer ring to it.
Our family has a rule that young children must stay in their beds until parents come to get them in the morning. I cannot sleep well imagining my children wandering the house foraging for who-knows-what. Getting into all kinds of mischief while I am unaware of the impending doom about to take place from unsupervised toddlers.
For example, one of my children, who was about four years old at the time, decided to sneak out of his room. He grabbed a full container of baby powder from the bathroom and proceeded to squeeze that baby powder container, sending plumes of powder all over his room. And all over the hallway. And the living room. And the kitchen. And the cat. Oh, that poor, poor cat. By the time I woke up, the entire container of powder was empty.
It took hours to vacuum that white snowstorm of baby powder.
So, staying in bed till a parent gets you up is a pretty firm rule in our house.
But sweet Levi decided that the time has come for him to take charge of his own destiny and get out of bed whenever the fancy strikes.
27 times in a row.
Each time he came out, I would put him back in his bed. Then I would leave and close the door. I'd wait a good minute before I heard him shout "No! No! No!" and get out of bed again. Then I'd put him back in. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I tell you this story not because I have incredible counting skills to share. Nor because I want all of you to insist on the same bedtime behavior that our family has.
But instead, I want to show you all that persistence is a good thing. I mean my persistence, not the imp getting out of bed when he isn't suppose to. Because what happened after the 27th time? He stayed in bed.
And he stayed in bed the next night. And the night after that.
When I hear parents say that they would like their children to do something, but they "just won't" I get a little frustrated. If a rule is important enough to make (and not all are), it is important enough to enforce every time. Do you insist that they buckle up in their car seat, or booster, or regular seat belt? (And I sure hope you do) Why should your other rules be optional?
I also don't buy the argument that one child is exceptionally strong willed, so it won't work. It might take more time and effort on the part of the parent, but it will work. My children have a wide range of temperaments. A couple have been accurately defined as "spirited". But they can learn live life within a set of boundaries. (This is assuming that the child has the cognitive abilities to understand what is asked of him or her and does not have a diagnosis that would prevent them from being able to follow rules.)
And this can be done without belittling children or hitting them. What it takes is a willingness on the part of the parent to follow through every. single. time.
I am not insinuating that children will never break rules or test boundaries. I sure am one of these nights Levi will try coming out of his bed again. But I'm also guessing that it won't take him 27 times to test that rule. He knows I won't budge.
There is another good thing about persistence - your child's this time. When it is channeled appropriately, it is a awesome gift. Persistent people are the ones who can persevere through difficult situations and setbacks. It is our job to teach our children how to apply this amazing characteristic. And getting out of bed and powdering the kitty is not the way to do it.