Thursday, March 28, 2013

Childlike Frustration

I feel frustrated, upset, and conflicted.

Once upon a time, about six or seven years ago, I was witness to a wonderful parenting moment that has helped to shape my entire parenting philosophy. Family friends were staying at my home when their three year old began throwing magnetic balls across our family room, in the path of his, then five month old sister.

Having been raised in a home where that sort of action merited yelling and spanking, I braced myself for a scene. What I witnessed was a scene, though far from the one I expected. This little boy's mother, a woman I am honored to know, asked her bouncing boy to come over to her. She quietly (almost whispering), and calmly-- ever so calmly-- explained to her boy that his actions were not acceptable and that he was to pick-up every tiny metal ball so his mother could pack them away since he had abused his privilege of playing with said toy. He obliged, she thanked him, and the day proceeded.

Fast forward seven-ish years and I am the proud mama of a giggling girl (who also likes to scream at inopportune times). My husband and I have agreed that spanking is not our preference, and we are in the muddy midst of figuring out how to best discipline our outgoing, rambunctious, and quite honestly spoiled little girl.

So, while recently traveling with my dear girl, my mother was witness to my attempt at consistency while remaining calm, and she informed me that she believed I need to "be more stern" with my 19mo old daughter because, if I'm not going to spank her, she needs to hear the difference between my teaching voice versus my disciplinary voice, or so my mother says. And, after my mother cited two specific incidents, I am torn in how I should take my mother's critique.

I admit: my biggest issue with the entire situation is the fact that my mother doesn't approve, and I realize I should probably just put on my big-girl pants and figure out what I actually believe. Unfortunately, even after nineteen months of struggle, I still seek out my own parents' approval in much that I do.

So, the first example of my parental shortcoming was that of my daughter screaming in a restaurant, to which I tried (and miserably failed) to redirect my kid's attention. The screaming ended in us finally leaving. And, I fully admit I allowed the behavior. However, I am frustrated by the example because of the circumstances. My kid was tired, I didn't want to take her to the restaurant because I knew she'd misbehave, my mom decided we should go anyway (we were all on the way to the airport, 70 miles away), and NO one had slept well the night before (for a myriad of reasons). I feel like this was a low blow, to take us at our worst, one small moment, and comment on my entire parenting style. However, I can (to a certain extent) see the error of my ways and I would at least do some of this differently in the future.

The second example is what really pisses me off, because I actually feel like I did a great job of maintaining my cool while also choosing a punishment that fit the crime (and was appropriate for a 19mo old). My daughter chewed up leftovers from the scream-filled lunch, spit them into her hand, and threw them on the floor. My response was to (I felt sternly) tell her the behavior was unacceptable, and insist that she pick-up every piece she spit-out (as I pointed them out) and put it in my hand (so I could throw them away). My mom basically said I shouldn't do the work/punishment for my kid.

It's a lose-lose situation. I'm frustrated. I am sure my mother is frustrated; but, when do us kids become adults?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Things I Thought I'd Never Say to my 19mo old...

1) Get off the colander. It is not a step stool.

2) Thank you for the kiss, and the strawberries (or other food product) in my hair.

3) It's okay, the floor will dry after we clean it... but the next time you have to go pee pee and don't have any pants on, tell mommy when you feel like you have to go and I will get you to a toilet.

4) Please set your big wheels on the ground.

5) Please don't stand in my frying pan.

6) You may only pick your nose in the bathroom or in your room; otherwise, please don't pick your nose in public.

7) Please don't show your boobies in public.

8) The doggy doesn't like it when you: sit on her, take her food, eat her food, pull her ears, stick your finger in her eye... etc.

9) Get off the coffee table. You're not allowed to stand on tables. Or dance on them. Don't dance on the coffee table!

10) If you're going to put your fish in the frying pan on the floor then you have to let the dog have some too.

11) What does a hyena say? No, that sounds more like a velociraptor... do the hyena sound.

12) Just wait until mommy pays for the internet service so we can look at Facebook pictures of Daddy... so you don't scream on the plane.

13) Say "bye bye toilet paper and pee pee!" No, you may not use toilet paper unless you go pee pee. I'm sorry, but you didn't go pee pee again yet.

14) Let daddy (or mommy) go potty by himself (or herself).

15) No, you are not allowed to brush your teeth more than two times a day. I'm sorry if you want to, but you're going to have to wait until this evening.

16) We do not chew our food up and spit it out on the airport floor. That is not acceptable. You have to pick up ALL of the chicken you spit out on the airport floor.

17) Go put the can opener back. Take the can opener back to Daddy. Go trade Daddy for some [fresh, uncooked] spinach.

18) Don't touch the oven. Yes, it's hot. Thank you for closing the oven. Yes, it's hot. Good job.

19)  Stop paying with the fireplace. Look! You can watch babies again. Your fingers are going to get squished.

20) Stop licking the butter out of the Tupperware.

21) Please take your hand out of your pants; if you have an itchy butt we will go change your diaper.

22) Stop banging the window with the tongs. And put the garlic press back in the drawer.

23) We have to ask people if we can touch their dogs. You may not just go and touch someone's dog without asking permission. I don't care if their dog wants to give you kisses. Stop kissing the dog, we have to ask permission.

24) No, that's not a doggy, that's a bear... horse... cat... goat... fish...

25) I am turning off the Rick Ross (or any other YMCB of choice) if you don't put your shirt back down.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm so lucky...

Actually I truly am... I'm not even being sarcastic (yet).

I was watching "Celebrity Wife Swap" -- featuring Coolio and Mark McGrath when I realized my husband may (as a father) just be a cross between Mark McGrath and Hank Baskett Jr. (That's totally a compliment to those guys-- and mine, but it was an interesting realization, nevertheless.) 

Nevertheless, this is my moment to admit: I am terrified of potty-training my daughter. The stupidest (and, admittedly most embarrassing) part is that I did no more than show her a DVD (Elmo's Potty Time) to initiate the process-- she did the rest herself. 

And yet, I'm dragging my feet and it makes me feel like a terrible mother. Will my daughter's future be jeopardized by my willingness to let her stew in her own diapers  after the age of 18mos? (She was 19 mos as of yesterday, so I suppose it's all over now...)

The kids is LITERALLY potty-training herself (I realize this may sound like bragging, but please believe me when I say it's an admission of guilt and laziness). She strips down and screams for the "potty" when she's gotta go in the evenings --and as long as we  follow suit she "goes" in the potty. 

BUT. This means my life is going to get more difficult. Yet again. 

It turns out the rhyme is VERY incorrect. 

First comes LOVE (okay, this is TOTALLY true in my case). My mom always thought it was weird because I had a decidedly "business-like" attitude toward my romantic relationships. And yet, I believe I've experienced more happiness in my 31 years than she has in 52. Boo-yah? Still, I truly loved my husband before we were engaged/married/with child. And it was FAB.

Then comes marriage. Ahhhhh. Our marriage ceremony (and resultant reception) was perfecto. I laughed. He tried not to because he was all worried. We didn't each other as well then as we do now. (Now I know not only that he was thinking of movies, but the ones he was most likely running through his mind as we wed. Then, I knew he was not laughing nervously-- like moi.) Though we had our fair share of bumps and hills through the first years of marriage we eventually made it to our year of perfection. A year if perfection my husband thinks we may never again achieve. However, I know that can;t be true since neither one of us considers divorce a true option unless the other falls out of (true) love... and by that I mean decides to be a complete asshole. (Which could totally happen on either end, but I prefer to believe it will not.)

Then comes baby. After just about a year, a lot of worry on my part, and a few fertility tests... we conceived a beautiful, funny, incredibly and utterly OBSTINATE, girl-child. She's awesome, and amazing. And, she changed our lives forever. Only not in the way you normally hear. In fact, three specific ways she's changed our agenda:

#1 - Our child is a total cock-block. She's amazing and all of the things attached, but in terms of being a champion of our parental relationship: she is no such thing (just ask the husband when he's at home). 

#2 - My husband loves our daughter, and tells me about it now... because he didn't quite love her in the same way when she was born. (Refer to #1.)

#3 - Our baby is an attention-whore. I love her, she's the fuit of my womb, but she sucks all of the attention either one of us has to give right out of our very beings. Ugh! The first time the husband came home to us and didn't say hi to me first I freaked out. Now I realize it's part of her evil plan to divide and conquer (I now do it too!)