Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Yelling At A Kid Doesn’t Make You A Hero

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

This is not the post I was supposed to be writing today. Right now I am supposed to be taking pictures of my 364-day-old baby so I can post a sweet, heartfelt, sob-worthy birthday post tomorrow when he turns 1. But my baby is blissfully taking a much-needed nap while I get to sit on the couch with a Diet Coke and think about how much needs to be done before his party on Saturday.

Except instead of party planning, I am working myself into a rage for the third time this week over that story out of the diner in Maine. I have spent entirely too much time, energy and furious typing on this story already, so what’s another hour?

Sometimes my children are monsters. I'm sorry.

Sometimes my children are monsters. I’m sorry. But screaming at them is not the answer.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up here on Buzzfeed and also read the mother’s account of what happened here. Do NOT read the comments.

Although I am extremely inclined to believe the family over the diner owner, I cannot prove anything one way or another. Even in this age of social media and cell phone videos as far as I know there isn’t any footage to confirm or deny the length of the tantrum. I’ve already word-vomited my feelings about that part of the story all over Facebook, much to the distress of some of my friends’ friends who insist I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about because THEY SEE parents being bad parents ALL THE TIME. I actually hardly ever see anyone being a terrible parent and can’t remember any time vividly enough to recount it for you now. Maybe I’m not observant or maybe my threshold for “terrible parenting” is just wicked high after having three kids. But if that is something ALL these internet commenters experience ALL the time, I cannot deny it happens.

So I give up on all my previous statements, assumptions and conclusions. You are right, people of the internet. Maybe these parents were incredibly neglectful, lazy and selfish and their monster of a toddler screamed at the top fo her lungs for 40 minutes, ruining everyone else’s morning. They are horrible and completely in the wrong for not taking their kid out of the restaurant.

But the part I absolutely WILL NOT concede is that the diner owner should be congratulated or treated as some sort of hero, standing up for the rights and eardrums of all the polite, respectable people who all seem to have raised their children without a single mistake ever or who are doing us all a favor by not having children in the first place.

I will cut a paste a few congratulatory comments so you don’t have to read all 1,000+ of them yourself.

“LOL I really like this owner!”

“owner did the right thing. that’s it!”

“I think the owner had every right when the parents r sitting there making everyone pay for their child’s temper tantrum. If u can’t control a Whiney kid….Stay the hell home! When I go out the last thing I want to listen to is a whaling brat!”

“Ugh. I’d have thanked her right then. Take your shrieking spawn outside please.”

“Restaurant owner is right. Dumbass mother is wrong. Case closed.”

“As for the owner, I applaud her. Simply put, her restaurant, her rules. It doesn’t necessarily matter if she has kids of her own or not either. She acted perfectly fine.”

“I give the owner support for her so-called rude response…apparently that’s the only way to get thru to the parents…the child had given a pure example of that truth! 40 minutes of ignoring your child is rude …BE A PARENT!”

Let me just be clear here: yelling at a kid in this situation does not make you a hero.

Do you know what makes you a hero in this situation? Kindness.

Kindness, patience and sympathy, which all seem to be rarer than unicorns these days. I feel extremely lucky that most of my interactions on a daily basis fall into the “polite indifference” section of the grid rather than “angry hostility” or “crazy screaming person” areas. I appreciate anyone who lets me just go about my parenting and life business without instantly writing me and my kids off as brats, jerks, whiners, life-ruiners who don’t really deserve to be out in public at all.

My heroes are the people who help when they don’t have to. The waitress who sees that I am struggling to keep my toddler in his high chair long enough to eat my meal and brings him apple slices to gnaw on is a hero. The cashier at the grocery store who starts to talk to my whining 4-year-old to distract her is a hero. The nurse at my doctor’s appointment who holds my baby for me so I can get changed is a hero. The lady at the beach who shares her snacks with my kids so they don’t have a hunger meltdown after all the snacks I brought have run out is a hero. My definition of hero here is pretty low, but in all those situations I am as grateful as if they had saved me from drowning. In a way, that is exactly what they are doing.

Those people are heroes because not only are they doing me a huge favor and embodying the idea that it takes a village, they are demonstrating in a real, tangible way to my kids what good behavior looks like. Instead of reacting to anger and frustration with anger and frustration, they are living proof being kind and calm is a real solution. “Oh!” thinks my kid, “She is trying to communicate without throwing a fit! Maybe I should also try that!”

That is how you turn irrational, screaming babies into full-sized good people. You model the behavior you want them to emulate, in private, in public and in diners. It can take a while, years even, but there isn’t really another option. I work really, really hard every waking hour of my day to give my kids the life skills, language and emotional maturity to one day be someone’s employee, boss, wife, husband, neighbor or friend. It is a fact of human survival that babies and children are necessary to create full-grown adults, so we need to allow for them to exist, even if sometimes they are awful. Kindness is how we teach them not to be so awful.

If you tell me that because these are not YOUR kids and YOU didn’t choose to bring them into this world you have no responsibility or obligation to help me teach them to be kind, I cannot argue with you. That is totally true. You are not obligated to do any parenting, so please enjoy doing things like sleeping in, going to brunch and yelling at whoever you want. But try to remember that you – YES YOU – were once a child. If your mother or father is available, call them up and ask them to tell you about their absolute WORST parenting moment. Maybe they can remember a time someone was kind to them while they were struggling, and the next time you encounter a horrible child in public you can pay that act of kindness forward.

No, you do not have to go above and beyond for me just because I have kids. No, I am not asking for special treatment. It is just so disheartening to think that so many people hate my family just because we exist in public spaces, we have bad days, and sometimes we make noise. I swear I am doing the best that I can to raise my tiny humans into people you would be happy to sit next to in a diner. If you can show them a little kindness, you can be a hero.

I’ve been staring at this for 15 minutes now, trying to decide if it’s worth hitting publish when I am fairly certain I’ll get yelled at for my post about not yelling at people. If you feel the need to comment or share, please be kind and give me and my commenters the benefit of the doubt when it comes to judgment, entitlement, parenting styles and anything else.

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Several Truths And One Big Lie About Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I did not have an excellent Mother’s Day. I’m not saying that to make my family feel bad or shame anyone. I’m saying that because there’s a pretty good chance YOU didn’t have an excellent Mother’s Day either and I want you to know you’re not alone. Those perfect, smiling, happy families on Instagram and Twitter probably didn’t have flawless Mother’s Days either. They might have had a very nice day. A spectacular day. But it was not perfect – perfect is the lie. Kids – even kids big enough to understand the concept of Mother’s Day – don’t stop being kids just because it’s the second Sunday in May. Not once has saying “But it’s Mother’s Day!!” to a tantruming child solved the problem. They do not suddenly stop being tired or hungry or frustrated and pull a bouquet of flowers out from behind their back and say “Oh dear mother, I had simply forgotten! Shall I fetch you a coffee or a glass of wine?” If that is your life, Mother’s Day or not, I hate you.

The problem as I see it is that Mother’s Day is supposed to be Special and things that are supposed to be Special just lead to disappointment. That is why women become bridezillas about their One Special  Wedding Day and freak out that every single second doesn’t go according to plan. The pressure of that ONE DAY is just too much. Mother’s Day is the ONE DAY a year we are supposed to be indulged and pampered and appreciated above ALL the other days. Sleeping in and breakfast in bed and champagne brunch and a family picnic and a manicure and a relaxing nap and a romantic dinner date and a thoughtful gift and a homemade card and flowers and a bottle of wine. If you family really loves you, they will do all of that. Except no, they won’t. And even if you don’t really need them to…even if you try really really hard to keep your expectations super low…even if you say “I will be happy if all I get is a card the kids made at school”…it’s hard to stare into the face of social expectations and be OK with not having a perfect day.

I actually would have had a pretty good Sunday if it had just been a Sunday. I got to lie in bed for an extra hour. My husband picked up lunch for all of us. I got to buy and plant flowers with the kids. And we finished the day by having s’mores for dinner on the newly cleaned patio. But I also did laundry and dishes and changed diapers and made decisions (ugh, DECISIONS) and dealt with tantrums and took the kids with me to run errands and bought paper towels. I really didn’t want to have to buy paper towels on Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you what I really want for Mother’s Day. I want to be a dad on a regular Sunday. I’m making generalizations here for the sake of simplicity, but in my social circle moms are almost always the default parent; the one the kids go to first for everything no matter who is closer/more available at that moment. On Mother’s Day, I want to be the dad. The fun parent. I want to say “Everyone jump in the car, we’re getting ice cream!” and not worry about if it’s too close to dinner or if we need to stop at the grocery store later to pick up stuff for school lunch the next day. The fun parent pees alone. The fun parent has time to read a book or a magazine or the back of a cereal box without being interrupted. The fun parent doesn’t always have one ear open for children’s whines or screams or cries or problems or squabbles 24 hours a day. The fun parent says “We’re out of mustard” into the fridge and, magically, mustard appears 24 hours later.

And then MAYBE on Mother’s Day all of us default parents will get a card and a bouquet and a nap not because it’s our One Special Day but because the fun parent wants to do something to acknowledge being a mom is kind of a tough job.

But since I am not a monster, I did in fact enjoy many parts of my Mother’s Day. The big kids – Caroline especially – remembered it was Mother’s Day and reminded me constantly I was supposed to be having The Best Mother’s Day Ever. There were s’mores. And now whenever we sit on the front steps for the bus we can admire the flowers we planted, together.

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She said the plants needed love to grow.

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Just A Mommy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
caroline dressed as a mommy-8

Mommy uniform: Messy bun, cardi, statement necklace, leggings, boots, phone in her purse, camera and of course, her Baby Jesus.

 

A few weeks ago, my daughter had a career day at school. When I asked her what she wanted to be, I was only half listening, since in my head I was trying to figure out what dress up we could repurpose as “Doctor” or “President” or “Nobel Peace Prize Winner”.

“A MOMMY!” she shouted.

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for 6 years now. I wipe tushies and noses and hands. I do laundry, then some more laundry, then do all the laundry again. I take kids to ballet and swim and doctor’s appointments and baby signs and birthday parties. I cut coupons and make lists and menu plans and 12 trips to the grocery store and then still end up serving tacos and spaghetti two nights a week.

I wear a lot of yoga pants.

“Oh,” I said. “A mommy,” I said. “But wouldn’t you like to be something else AND a mommy?? You don’t have to be JUST a mommy.”

I flinched when I said it. The words floated out of my mouth and hung right in front of my face where I thought about how it was a stupid thing to say. I know better.

Being a mom isn’t just keeping children alive – although some days that is all I seem to manage. We can’t just feed and clothe them, we have to raise them up and impart everything we know into their empty heads. We are turning small squishy lumps of need into tiny humans who then turn into actual real humans and grow up to be, well, everything. We teach patience because one day they’ll need it while discovering the gene that cures cancer. We teach kindness because one day they might build hospitals for villages in need. We teach the alphabet so they can write the great American novel. We clean up a zillion finger paint messes so they can become great artists. Someone right now is wiping the butt of a future president.

I want Caroline to know that she has the option to be whatever she wants when she grows up, especially right now when she’s capable of dreaming about future careers without worrying about their practicality. I remember telling my mother I was going to be a ballerina marine biologist and her saying “That is a great idea”. I want her to find a passion and explore it and love it and then change her mind. I want her to change her mind a million and one times before she actually finds a career. I want her to reach for the stars…or the bottom of the sea…or the top of a mountain…or wherever it is that super successful and happy people reach. Because as cliche as it sounds, I only want her to be happy.

I don’t want anyone to ever tell my daughter she HAS to be a mother or that she can ONLY be a mother, but if she wants to be a mother – even if she wants to be JUST a mommy – then I would be very, very proud of her.

When she came home from career day, I asked her what her friends dressed up as. “Logan was a motorcycle guy!” she explained, “And all the girls were princesses!”

So maybe Mommy is a bold choice for a 4 year old after all.

And hey, I must make being a mommy look like a lot of fun if it’s something she’s looking forward to. Although it might just be because she wants to be the boss.

caroline dressed as a mommy

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Life With 3: Update 1

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

It is 11:25 am and I am watching The Price is Right, which means life is really good right now. That’s how I judge my level of happiness: am I able to be home, eating a sandwich, between the hours of 11 and 12 so I can watch Drew Carey give away cars? Yes? Success!!

Tomorrow Linc will be 1 month old, and I’ll start doing monthday updates again. I have big plans to do a same-spot monthly photo like I did with Caroline’s tutu, but I am TERRIBLE at following through with stuff like that so we’ll see.

It turns out the hardest part of having three kids isn’t the third kid – it’s the first two. I thought I had done a really good job teaching Evan and Caroline to play on their own without needing me to intervene or referee much. But in reality I just didn’t realize how often I had to step in until I was stuck on the couch under a sleeping or nursing baby and couldn’t break up their squabbles. There has been a LOT more yelling than I like (and I’m not even strictly anti-yelling) just because I CAN’T walk into the other room and deal with them calmly. Caroline has started shouting “Moooooom Evan is TORTURING ME again!” and Evan shouts “DON’T COME UP HERE!” and then I have to stomp up the stairs while they both shout “NOOOOOO! We’ll be good! We promise!!!!” It’s fairly exhausting just to listen to them all day, plus the stomping is really rough on my knees.

Luckily, I only have everyone home for one more week before school starts. School itself is going to be a challenge – Evan’s bus comes REALLY early and I’m kind of nervous about how he’ll behave during a long ride to school – but the quiet I’m going to get while both big kids are gone is going to be life-changing. I can start blogging again. I can edit photos. I can finish knitting one of the 5 baby hats I’ve started but not finished. I can start taking pictures for other people so I can start saving up for the new lens I want.

And I can do ALL that stuff because Linc is a super easy baby. I have absolutely NO delusions this has anything to do with me or my parenting whatsoever. It’s luck. Just luck. Maybe there’s a little truth to the idea that because I’m not tense and nervous and stressed the baby isn’t tense and nervous and stressed, but that’s anecdotal at best. I know plenty of people whose second or third baby was WAY more high-needs than the first one. I just got an easy one this time, for which I am unbelievably thankful. With E gone almost all the time I would be seriously, SERIOUSLY losing my mind if I had an inconsolable, colicky baby.

The day my mom left me alone with all 3 kids I looked around and realized my house was clean and organized, and if I could just MAINTAIN that current level I could avoid a disaster. I’ve been doing really well – right now there’s only one load of laundry not put away and all the dishes are in the dishwasher – but I’ve given up on the kids’ room. Until they go to school and I can spend a good 3+ hours in there purging it’s hopeless. Luckily the rest of the house is still in good shape, so I can just shut their door and ignore it. I’m also ALMOST done with Linc’s nursery – I still haven’t ordered the crib and I need my husband to build me a shelf – and I’m really excited to share it.

Now I have a very important episode of House Hunters: Where Are They Now? to watch while I make a grocery list and a meal plan and enjoy this slightly annoying update while I can. I feel like the next one (after the 6 am wake ups and lunch packing and school drama) will be…much less smug.

 

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Don’t Forget

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Evan is 5 years and 3 months old.

He refuses to let me cut his hair, even though it is getting long and shaggy and gets stuck in his goggles when he tries to swim. Swimming is the only sport or activity he wants to be signed up for, although he said in the fall he’d like to try football.

Evan loves cereal more than any other food. He would rather eat cereal than ice cream or candy or soda or anything else. Sometimes it’s understandable (who doesn’t love Lucky Charms?) but sometimes it’s something really random, like Honey Bunches of Oats. This week it was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which he had never actually eaten before but INSISTED I buy at the grocery store. He ate 4 bowls between noon and bedtime.

He is a really good helper and will try to do anything you ask, even if he’s not physically capable of doing it. But he is willing to TRY and then ask for help if he needs it. It’s such an amazing grown up skill that even a lot of real grown ups struggle with.

If you ask him to describe himself, he’ll say he’s a ginger and he’s brave.

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Caroline is 3 years and 7 months old.

She thinks all “3”s and “C”s belong to her personally, so when she sees them on signs or in stores she wants to take them home.

All of her toys have basically the same name. Her toy horse is called Horse. Her zebra is named Zebra-Zeeb. A stuffed duck is named Ducky Duck Duck. The only exceptions are her two baby dolls, who are named Baby Memba and Baby Jesus. Obviously.

Caroline calls herself a “curly girl” because people are always commenting on her beautiful hair. Then she finger-twirls her curls because she’s in an invisible contest for the cutest child ever.

Today she told me that “duplicate” is when there is more than one of you, like when you look in the mirror.

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Both children have no fear or strangers or people. They will ask to be friends with anyone and get sad when their “new friends” (aka the girl they met in the waiting room, the bagger at the grocery store, a random guy who held the door at the mall) leave.

They ate 3/4 of a watermelon today. A real full size watermelon.

They are best friends. They often try to kill each other. I hope nothing changes.

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