She’s a Mess

My first born will turn Nine tomorrow… Sept 12th.

It’s amazing she’s even alive – on top of being domestically challenged, the hospital where we had her did not even give us a manual for how to care for her!  When we got her home and found out she did not come with directions I was PISSED. I called the nursing station when I was feeling better finally (just last year) to give them a piece of my mind.

In spite of their negligence I managed to figure out a few things that I think were important and I am proud to say that I am very happy with how she’s turning out.

She’s pretty amazing – meaning- she amazes me, and others.

She’s creative and intelligent, bold and independent, incredibly loving and thoughtful, quick witted and funny. She’s athletic and she’s strong, and has an incredible flair for drama.

As a mom i also see the challenges ahead for her and I know that there are some interesting character traits in her that will likely manage to bump up against others. We all have these-  the parts of us are both the blessing and the challenge.  On a good day her boldness and independence can be courageous and inspiring and on a bad day it can look stubborn and relentless.

On a good day her quick wit and humor makes everyone laugh and see how clever she can be and on a not so good day it comes across as sassy and spoiled (ugh).

Her flair for Drama makes her an amazing actress and her imagination soars to places that inspire me, and when it’s used in other ways she can become an incredible advocate for her little brother being left by the side of the road or dropped off at the orphanage.

In the South when they first met her ( her daddy is from Alabama) they started to experience her personality and they kept saying… “that Manon she’s a mess” – until finally I told them i did not think that was very nice.  My Mother- in -law laughed and told me that where they come from being a mess is a compliment. I kind of liked that… she really is a mess.

I see so much of myself in her… and it teaches me things about myself even as an adult that have been quite illuminating. I parent her as I would have liked to be parented when I was a child…all I had and was given.. and all that I was not.

Now I know why those nurses at the hospital did not give me the instruction book.  They didn’t because they couldn’t. They could not possibly known her or appreciated her the way I do.  They could have never told me what she needed because i was the only one who had the key to unlock her needs. They could not have comforted, supported, disciplined, allowed, snuggled, tickled, invested, intended, applauded, interacted, or understood the way I have….

because I am her mother… and the manual was after all –  inside of ME  all along.

Happy Birthday to my little mess.  I love you, and I can’t imagine my life without you in it.

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The Gift of “NO”

I have had heard from many this week through email and comments (always welcome!)  saying how much they’ve enjoyed the humor posts lately about my struggle to regain control of my children.

As much as I have made light of this situation, it’s truly been troubling me. What happened to my sweet kids? I witness them hitting each other,  saying unkind things to one another, acting entitled, disrespectful, rude, ungrateful and oh,  did I mention ungrateful?  They feel that everything is a negotiation and that they should be the center of attention at all times.

I have put my mind to researching every book and text I can access on the subject of discipline lately and as I poured over excerpts, essays, and entries online and off line the term “family values”  comes up repeatedly. This has brought me to an interesting crossroads…..

What ARE my family values and have I ever communicated them to my children?

I think back to my own upbringing, and all of the ways i undermined my mothers techniques with my internal dialog vowing  never  to repeat her words, mistakes, or measures …. OH YES I WOULD BE DIFFERENT- BETTER . We all do the BEST we can….

OR DO WE?

For instance…

1) I KNOW that letting my children watch three movies in a row so I can get some work done and allow them to scream “MOOOOOOM I NEED A SNACK!” as i distractedly talk on the phone and fill yet another snack bowl and bring it to them so as not to disturb the catatonic state i have going for me is NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.

2) I KNOW that giving in and opening the yet unpurchased bag of oreo cookies in the grocery store and saying “maybe” while being peppered with the “can I get a toy?” questions to avoid a scene in the grocery store  while finally rewarding them at the end for not acting like ANIMALS with some form of additional treat or bribe is NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.

3) I KNOW that negotiating with my five year old as he turns my own words on me telling me “Mom, it’s your choice, a popsicle or a cookie” as he deny’s my pleas to eat something healthy, while I whine “how about some proteeeeein”?  Is NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.

4) I KNOW choices of chicken nuggets, pizza, pasta with butter, cheese quesadillas and gogurts as a family meal each night in order so I don’t have to deal with the “YUCK!” comments, dinner table fights, prolonged whining and remaking something they will eat all the while hoping I do not dirty another dish I will have to wash for the umpteenth time IS NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.

Now- these are just four examples and trust me, I can go ON and ON but what it really comes down to is

What the hell am i teaching my children and who wears the pants in this house anyway?

The fact of the matter is that I DO KNOW what i should be doing to illicit the proper behavior in my children but I have let my own agenda, self doubt, fatigue, and countless conflicting messages in the media cloud my vision on a minute by minute basis instead of simply DOING what MUST BE DONE.

I know I have GOOD children,  AND that they REQUIRE direction, support, and limits at all times at this stage in their development and that I am the best one for the job.  If I bungle this NOW…what will that mean for their future? In my excavation on the subject I re-read this little gem:  the gift of NO, (If you click on this link this article pretty much sums it up). I love this article…. it makes sense to me and I think it will make sense to you too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and I truly appreciate all of you who are also exploring this conversation with me it makes me feel somewhat normal and not so alone!

Just Peachy: An Update From Her Highness

Perhaps it’s still too early into the new routine at Rodgers residence but I just wanted to give my dedicated readers a quick update since I know you are all beside yourself with anticipation to know if this new program with the children is working out so far.

Like all new routines or decisions instituted I had to of course update my Wasband (and I say that in the most loving and respectful of ways) on the new program so that we were both operating consistently and in lock- step (I’ve been called an optimist) and he was in full support.  We discussed at length by phone (it’s better this way) the discipline problems we have each been experiencing and finished the conversation with a renewed commitment to bold action with our children.

I sat both children down the evening of the decree and went over the rules for posterity’s sake:

  • No movies, sweets, i-phone games,  or other “treats” during the week – these are “privileges” and can be earned based on great behavior.
  • In order to gain access to the aforementioned  tooth and mind rot you must delight your mother in every way possible including doing your chores without whining, coming down for your morning breakfast in a pleasant mood, and getting yourself ready and out the door without a fuss- same for bedtime.
  • You will speak to each other and to your parents respectfully, and not hit, instigate, tease, call names or otherwise work to undermine each others every last move. Oh and NO COPY CAT bullshit ( I hate that!)
  • You will eat what I put in front of you for dinner and you will eat it with gratitude- clearing your place and then making yourself scarce before bed would be looked favorably upon especially if it gives me time to regroup before the bedtime olympics routine that has given me PTSD over the years.
  • Once your teeth are brushed and you are bathed (on bath night) you will get into YOUR OWN BED and you will quietly listen and not interrupt one hundred millon times as I read a story, and NO YOU MAY NOT have “just one more story” so don’t you dare ask
  • You will not get out of bed eight to ten times collectively to ask me for childish silly things.

I also explained, each night before bed I will bestow upon you a star or a check (and god forbid you get an X ) in the vacant square that awaits beside your name.  If you manage to get three stars in a row during a five day period it’s because you behaved beautifully and you may then claim  your cherished movie, i-phone game play, sweet or treat on a weekend day or evening.

Day One:  they each received a √ and I explained that although they had been better– that they had still whined considerably and fought with each other (as they raced each other to helpfully make my bed).

Day Two : In the late afternoon (everything was on track for a STAR chart evening) their daddy took over so that I could go celebrate my friends birthday.  I left knowing that they were in great hands.

Day Three: This morning I learned from my precious children that last nights dinner out and then adventure to the bowling alley was a blast and that after they got home they watched  James and the Giant Peach while snuggling with their Daddy.   OH… and “he put a STAR on each of our squares” they beamed.

SWEAR TO GOD.

God Save The Queen (Mother)

 

Parenting is no picnic sometimes.

I have to admit that my parenting has gotten a little LAZY.  I’ve been letting little things slide over the course of the last month since I no longer have an ELF on the SHELF to keep order in my home.  Behavior has snowballed into what I would categorize as  DEPLORABLE and I really have no one to blame but their father (ok,  sorry that’s just a joke).

Yesterday I decided that I have to regain supreme reign of this household and that law and order must be instituted immediately before someone was to get seriously injured.  It was them, or me.

After a rough night of consequences (Shaw age 5.5 to bed with no supper) and a less that glorious morning routine which wound him back in his room after school for 40 minutes I decided to create a chart that will earn him privileges ONLY on weekends, and ONLY if he manages to have three GOOD days in a row.  That means that the weekdays are for school, playing with his sister, chores, and reading and that if all goes well possibly a movie, play date or special treat on the weekend.

I have no idea if this will work and frankly I wonder if the novelty of the chart will wear off but since I instituted the new laws in my kingdom i have heard barely a peep of protest, whining, or mis-behavior.

Both he and his sister have agreed that they will abide by my laws or risk the wrath of the Queen Mother.  I have been terse, tight lipped, and short and quick in my responses to them, and I am here to delightfully report that it got me fairly far this evening.  They both brought their plates to the kitchen, took baths, brushed teeth, and got into bed without even a whimper of protest ( THIS IS NOT NORMAL).

Infractions include fighting, being fresh or sassy, hitting, whining, or just outright being a naughty butt.

It’s amazing since these new boundaries are set how much happier they both actually seem.  As a wise woman once said…

When the Queen is happy; the land is happy.

Five Tips on Discipline

Last night I attended a parent gathering at school to discuss “discipline” at home – a subject I find both fascinating and haunting.   Fascinating because It’s something I’d love to be better at, and haunting because of what i’ve stooped to thus far. Sometimes I forget that the goal NOW is to parent in such a way that the RESULT is that my children are well adjusted, compassionate & competent adults.

Here are a few things I learned I learned last night….

1) Sitting on my small child’s chest while yelling “who’s da man?” is only going to cause resentment and require a hefty investment in psychotherapy later in life ( yes, I’m ashamed to admit, he has pushed me this far)

2) Negotiating with your child is a bad habit and if you do it – you teach a child NOT to accept your limits. Most of the time there is NOTHING to negotiate.

3) Stop making empty threats: you will lose your power and your credibility.  Have a few rules and enforce them regularly with realistic consequences that actually work  (I remember i once took away Halloween like three times before we went out trick or treating! )

4) Discipline *as much as possible using natural consequences: for instance ; If dinner is served and your child makes the choice not to eat it, he or she will go to bed hungry.  Choosing NOT to eat the dinner causes the consequence of going to bed hungry.  It’s a guarantee this behavior will not persist for very long and your child will stop fussing when you put dinner on the table ( imagine? – this is going to be a hard one for me)  This does not mean, however that you allow your child to go outside without a coat and become cold if they so choose, but instead a natural consequence might be that they lose out on another privilege that might be important to them or that they be required to sit by themselves inside while everyone else play outdoors.

5) Your child is not your friend.   Children need a competent adult who loves them without strings attached. When you try to be their best friend you rob them of their parent.  Don’t make this mistake.

No matter what – discipline with consistency ( not consistently inconsistant) so that your child has a firm understanding of what his or her limits are. This also allows them the opportunity to self regulate later in life when you are not around.