Just call me Martha
O Giant Town Of Little People And Ceramic Figurines

I should have gone to school for this

My piece at Parenting tomorrow contains something I try not to have very much online: an opinion. I especially try not to have opinions at PARENTING. However. Sometimes you have only one Parenting-appropriate post in your head and here we are and, well, I TRIED not to be obnoxious but I'm sure SOMEONE will find me obnoxious and accuse me of posting my own positive comments and blah blah blah. And people, don't get excited, it's not like I wrote about breastfeeding. No, I'm writing about TEACHER PRESENTS. 

Bah. 

I'm in a very Doom and Gloom sort of mood right now. I had a typical day, even a nice one, except for the part where I took both children to Mass (today: Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and also the part where I took both children to the library. During Mass I told Jack to stop doing something - making noise with crayons? See I can't even remember. And he just WOULDN'T. Even when I used my Angry Mom Hiss, even when I physically moved him away - he wrenched his arm away and KEPT DOING IT. 

I thought: I should leave. I should drag this kid out of here right now and throw a hissy fit in the car and send him to his room for a million hours and basically make sure he knows that when he so blatantly disobeys me HE IS IN FOR IT. There will be SUFFERING! 

But I didn't. I gave up. I hissed a couple of when-we-get-home threats, but what else could I do? We were in church and people I was damn proud of the fact that we MADE it to church! And that I was there with both kids on my own! And sitting right next to the seminarian who led the before-Mass rosary who was, without a doubt, watching me pointlessly discipline my three-year-old and feeling cheerful about his commitment to celibacy!

Then after Molly's nap we made a quick trip to the library. Again, everything was just fine until Jack started to get a little excited and took off running. Again I used the Angry Mom Hiss, the grabbing his elbow and leading him back to where he was supposed to be. But as I stood at the self check out computer he RAN AWAY FROM ME. And started dancing around the line dividers and I know I know. I should have dropped everything and marched that kid out and took him home where he would SUFFER. Where he would connect Disobeying One's Mother to ENDLESS MISERY. 

But I didn't. I gave up. I finished checking out, because we'd spent half an hour finding those stupid books and it'd been weeks since we'd even visited the library and Molly had picked half of them out herself and why punish her too and and and. 

I called home to complain, but ended up getting a Buck Up, Kiddo talk which was, I hate to say, sorely needed. It was just really helpful to talk to someone who 1) has done this before and 2) knows my kid really well. Because all the Time Out stuff? The talking? The choices? That stuff does not work on my kid. You know what else doesn't work? All the OTHER stuff I do. Namely the various ways that show him I I'm Really Stinking Angry, because that was what worked on ME. (At least as I recall!) I HATED IT when my parents were mad at me. But my kid? Eh! Who cares! They'll get over it!

The thing is that we DO get over it. We are big fat softies with a large helping of Lazy. I can talk myself out of almost any hard core discipline situation simply because I hate how it ruins everything. I hate ruining dinner or ruining a project or ruining an outing. It really does ruin it for me - I don't get past it easily, I feel bad about myself and my kid, it stays with me for the rest of the day. 

But I feel like I need to start ruining things in order to CHANGE a few things. 

It feels kind of weird writing about this because I'm actually feeling like things are going well. Like, have I told you Jack eats now? Sort of? I mean, he still subsists on white flour and cheese, but at least he eats regular AMOUNTS of those things. Sometimes he'll eat a whole apple! I used to feel like I had a kid who didn't eat, now I just feel like I have a picky eater. And as a lifelong picky eater, I can sympathize with that. (Phillip, not so much. Sigh.) And there was one day where he was super rotten, but the next several days he was an ANGEL. Like he was super aware of how upset I'd been that day and he wanted to show me that ACTUALLY he really IS a good boy! See how he cleaned up his room? See how he ate all his lunch! He will do that! He will be a nice boy! 

So yeah, I guess it's just the same old same old. Kid acts out, I realize how bad I am at Consistency. BLEARGH.

Whatever. It's been a long day of not-disciplining, cookie-making and fretting about my ONE SINGLE CHRISTMAS CARD. Do you people not love me?! My IRL friends better step it up. (Let's not mention the fact that I haven't sent MINE yet. Ahem.)

Comments

Morgan S.

Maggie, I very much connect with this post. I struggle with the not wanting to "discipline" because we are trying to have FUN, DANGIT. I actually for the first time ever had to leave Target 4 minutes after arrival because of the terrible behavior of my 4 year old. And what was breaking my heart was the 2.5 year old crying and saying she was cooperating and being a good listener and she so wanted to be at Target with Mommy. That is one of my biggest child-rearing struggles. When one is behaving and the other is not! Because, often times disciplining the misbehaving one punishes the other child too. Bah.

lindsay

I can't wait to hear your opinion on teacher presents. My pre children policy is: I am anti teacher presents but will probably do it anyway in the form of a Starbucks gift card so my children don't feel they are from a weird or poor family. Which is dumb because I suppose I should teach my children to be confident in acting in a manner consistent with their beliefs. Although if I didn't give a gift perhaps I would be using my children to further my own agenda, and that's probably not good either. Anyway that's a fret for several yrs from now if I ever heard one.

katie

Had a similar experience this past sunday at mass. I ended up waiting in the lobby (and missing communion) with my misbehaving child while my husband stayed in the pew with the angel child.
My biggest struggle with discipline is the fact that my parents where so strict and hard on myself and sibs when we were growing up (which I completely disapprove of considering we were such GOOD kids). So now, I end up being a softie/pushover most of the time. Kids will be kids, right?
Like today when Jo didn't want to leave her friends' birthday party (i mean at the end of the party, when all the other kids were leaving).
Guess we have to pick our battles.

Jen @ The Short Years

I have only received three Christmas cards so far, and I'm thinking, where's the love?? And I am halfway through addressing my own, so that's progress.

HereWeGoAJen

I lost your address in my computer crash, so if you want your Christmas card (which is sitting here on my desk, waiting), you will have to send me your address.

Wait, didn't you move since last year anyway? It isn't even my computer's fault!

Elaine

First, you've gotten a Christmas card??? I haven't gotten one yet. Not one. I keep telling myself it's because we moved and people don't know where to send the card. *whimper* However, I also have not sent mine out, and have seriously been debating just skipping the whole thing this year. See what a hypocrite I am? And??? I have not had fun since 1997 (when my first child was born) because I have been doling out the discipline to one child or another ever since then. (Obviously I jest)(a bit)(about the not having fun). The upside is that, as we are entering the teen years? I am not worried about them as much as most parents seem to be. My kid knows Right and Wrong and the Suffering that comes with Wrong. I'm just lucky that my youngest is pretty easy going, because I find myself more and more just wanting to give up/in/whatever. Parenting is tiring, which is probably why I want to skip sending out Christmas cards this year.

Life of a Doctor's Wife

I have gotten the one lone Christmas card, too. And I also have yet to send my own cards out. (They are in the mail, according to CostCo!)

But the card I got was from a couple who both work AND have a Very Young Child, so getting their card really made me feel inadequate.

That's what Christmas is really about, right?

-R-

I have received zero Christmas cards so far! It makes me sad! But I just sent mine out yesterday, so hopefully we'll start getting some soon.

My husband is too strict, and I am too much of a pushover. I figure that it evens out in the end.

Lisa

I am right there with you! We are having some extreme difficulties with behavior lately, and it seems that we have found a strategy that works, although it requires a GREAT DEAL of parental discipline. We had to stop the yelling. Everything had disintegrated into yelling. Parental yelling. So now, she does something defiant or misbehaves in some way, and we stop her, talk calmly and make her stay (sometimes physically restraining her) until she can repeat what we have said. Calmly. Without crying. And then we praise her for calming down. And then for anything else she does right. With the same calm voice. It is SO HARD. But it seems to be working. It just requires a lot closer supervision and a lot of self control.

The Sojourner

Re teacher presents, because I'm too lazy to sign up at parenting:

Oddly, I have the opposite sort of gift-giving hangup. When my mom explained to me a few years ago what wedding registries are, I thought they were the BEST IDEA EVER. You know exactly what the person wants! And it's easily accessible on the internet! And you can tell if somebody's already bought them a blender!

And then you feel socially awkward ANYWAY because you're the only one in your sorority* who got a small kitchen appliance for your sister, instead of rushing around Wal-Mart trying to find something "personal." Gift-giving: A lose-lose situation.

*Technically, we're not a sorority, but nobody outside of Franciscan (except maybe a few other tiny Catholic colleges) knows what a household is, so I say sorority and then add long footnotes explaining what I actually meant.

Christiana

Yeah, I've been there. I feel like she SHOULD react when I show anger, etc. because I swear I remember doing that when I was a kid. But, sometimes they need to have their good time ruined (you should have seen my toddler and the forlorn-face she made last night when she didn't get to go on "an adventure" with Daddy to pick up the pizza because she disobeyed me and had a bad attitude. I listened to the wailing and gnashing of teeth the ENTIRE time he was gone, but she got the point.

I do have a policy that I won't threaten to take away something that I won't actually take away. (Ie, seeing Mickey when we went to Disney a couple weeks ago. We spent money on it, I wasn't about to skip it for a bad-attitude minor infraction, etc. But I did threaten other things like not being able to play w/ her cousins or her aunts or whatever, even though that is a help to me.)

Will be sending out Christmas cards when they get mailed to me from the printer. :)

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