Saturday, July 5, 2014

My life as a warden for the criminally insane

While ankle deep in sewage spilling out of my children’s bathroom and down the hallway into the living room one of them asked me to make her a glass of chocolate milk.

One night when my husband was out of town I put my oldest daughter down on a mattress next to my bed so she could sleep in my room. In the middle of the night I heard a muffled, “Mom…Mom.”  I looked over the side and she was nowhere to be found. I searched frantically and discovered that she had rolled off her mattress and was all the way under my bed. I lifted up the bedskirt, crawled through the dust bunnies and pulled her out. She then rewarded me by throwing up on me.

I let my daughter pick out a plastic dollhouse at a local Thrift Store and we washed it together when we got home. She then excitedly informed grandma that I let her get something at the “dirty store”.

When my daughter was a toddler I sat on the floor of the bathroom next to her and read a book while she was in the tub. When I looked up, she had a frantic look on her face and a turd on a spoon. So much for the commemorative light saber spoon from the Cheerios box.

A few years ago some good friends of ours asked us to be Godparents to their son. Everything went well.  We stood at the front of the church with them as her father (a former pastor), baptized the baby. I smiled proudly with one arm around my husband and another around my daughter. It was only then that I realized that my darling daughter had wedged her index finger firmly up her nose.

I have had to break up screaming arguments over cartoon characters.

I have had to grease a plastic Hannah Montana bracelet off of a toddler’s thigh.

I have been called to preschool to extract a dyed-green macaroni noodle from my child’s nose.

I have been woken up at 2 am by a child reminding me that she needed new shoes.

I have taken lasagna apart.
Once, on a Costco shopping trip I asked my three year old to remind me to pick up peanuts for Daddy.  A few aisles later she did her job by loudly shouting that I should not forget Daddy’s peanuts… except that she did not pronounce the “t” in peanuts…

I have carried my pajama-clad children against their will to the principal’s office when they have refused to get ready for school.

I once paid a $20 copay to find out my daughter was getting boobs.

Last winter my children used a Tapatio bottle as a snowman nose.

I once found an entire flour tortilla shoved in the seatbelt hole in my daughter’s carseat.

I have showered with naked Barbies, stepped on Lego’s, been impaled by forgotten thumbtacks, and been clubbed in the head by wooden blocks.

Every day is an adventure and a struggle to maintain order. It is my hope that one day my lovely inmates will be competent enough to stand trial and be rehabilitated.  Until then, you can find me at my desk denying requests for candy at breakfast and permission to borrow my high-heeled leather boots to play in the sprinkler.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Misguided Facebook Quotes: "...give your children permission to be human."

This quote has made the rounds and at last count received 2,221 likes:
So often children are punished for being human. Children are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes, yet we adults have them all the time! We think if we don’t nip it in the bud it will escalate and we will lose control. Let go of that unfounded fear and give your child permission to be human. We all have days like that. None of us are perfect and we must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.” (attributed to Rebecca Eanes, author, blogger).

I suspect the author was just trying to remind parents to ease up a bit, but here is the deal:
When my children feel grumpy and have a bad day everyone pays for it. They hit and bite and growl. They cry and sass. Am I supposed to just chalk it up to their humanity? Yes, adults have bad moods but yes, we DO indeed get punished for them: we end up alienating our friends and family, get written up at work, lose customers, and irritate our neighbors.
It is much easier to help children calm down if you teach them how to control their emotions and catch them in the beginning of their emotional breakdown. So, yes, Rebecca, parents really do need to nip it in the bud! My fear is not that “it will escalate and we will lose control” but rather that my child will lose control. It is our job as parents to teach our children how to control themselves so by the time they are adults they will be able to handle strong emotions without having to scream and throw themselves down on the floor at the Department of Motor Vehicles because they waited 3 hours just to be told that they were in the wrong line. 
If we let go of our “unfounded fear” as the quote suggests, here is what I envision:
 “Katie, what is the matter?”
“I hate you.”
“But what is going on and why is Sarah crying?”
I then go over to the playground and kneel in front of Sarah.
“Sarah, honey, what happened?”
“Katie got mad and pushed me off the swing.”
“Katie, did you do this?”
“I am not talking to you!!  I am mad!! You are a witch.”
“That is fine, honey.  I am so glad that you are mad.  It is normal to have those feelings.”
“Sorry, Sarah, Katie is just having a grumpy day, I guess.   She’s only human.”
“Auuggggghhhh!!  Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!!!!”
“Melissa, what is wrong?”
“The kids!!  They are driving me crazy!!”
“You don’t have to yell so much.  What did they do?”
“I can’t go to the bathroom alone!  Auuuggghhh!!!! And I stubbed my toe and I can’t find my favorite watch.”
“It is OK to have bad feelings.  Go push the middle one off the swing.  You will feel better.”
“Thanks, honey.  I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

Hmmmm….. on second thought…I guess maybe it is a good strategy after all…

If you need free parenting advice from someone that does not believe in "talking it out" with children and has no experience in child psychology other than the time a child psychologist asked me, "Who is the parent here?" then, please feel free to submit your questions and I will answer them on the blog.