Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Angry Eyes

After having kids in the house for 13 years, I have definitely dealt with my share of tantrums and public meltdowns. All of them, except one, have been executed by Zoe. She is independent, stubborn, outspoken, smart, and demanding. Someday all of these traits will help her kick ass. Right now, they just get her in trouble.

Her public meltdowns used to occur in the grocery store on a fairly predictable schedule. We'd make it through produce without any conflicts, but then we'd get to the bakery where she'd make the horrific error of picking an oatmeal raisin cookie instead of chocolate chip. Instead of just saying "Ewww, raisins" she'd instead hurl the offending cookie across the aisle and collapse into a sobbing heap. I would just stand there and ignore her, feigning interest in the hot dog buns.

When Zach and Charlie were little, I could actually say "I will not bribe/beat/scream at/swear at/threaten my child" and actually mean it. Zoe has made things a little trickier and as a result, I've had to rethink discipline.

Have I bribed the girl? Why do you think she has so many nickels in her piggy bank? Bribes have ranged in size from a roll of Smarties to small change to an overpriced plastic Schleich animal at Target to DVD's. No matter what child experts say, bribes work and I don't see a lot of lasting damage being done. When you want them to sit still in a restaurant, exit a store, or put their butt in a dentist chair, nothing works quite as efficiently and quickly as a piece of candy or a small toy.

Do I yell? Yes, but I try not to all the time. Sometimes, though, when dinner fails to cook itself, kids are fighting, the dog is barfing, and the weather forecast says 42 degrees and rain, I just need to yell. And sometimes, even when things seem to be going well and one little thing pisses me off, I yell. I know of a mom that was really not very happy the other day because she was dealing with an avalanche of misfortune, and while communicating her displeasure to her kids...she accidentally mangled the double stroller with her car. I can totally identify with this type of anger, and fortunately I just sold my last stroller on Craigslist.

Have I made threats I have no intention of keeping? Does "I'm pretty sure Santa will be leaving you a big pile of nothing this year" count as a threat? Yes? Well then, let's just say that threats have ranged from not taking the offending child on a family vacation to spending an entire day sitting on the naughty step. I may have even said "You know what, I think I'll just leave you at the bookstore." And by the way, nosy old guy wearing the Members Only jacket who gave me the look, I obviously wouldn't have actually followed through with it, at least not for more than a couple minutes. And don't stare at me with your mouth hanging open.

Do I swear? Fuck no. At least, not at my kids.

Do I spank? I will be honest and say that yes, the girl has received a quick butt swatt on the few occasions when she has completely lost her mind and is about to do bodily harm. Now, if you ask me whether I use a wooden spoon or a belt, I'll just say that if you walk around with a wooden spoon sticking out of your purse, waiting for your kid to be naughty, you may receive more than a few raised eyebrows. And please use the belt for what it's meant for, to keep your pants up.

Lately, the meltdowns have pretty much disappeared and the spontaneous rage is under control. There are still moments, like after sitting at a tennis tournament for 8 hours, that I can see her getting a little feisty. But in these cases, I can usually just flash her the angry eyes or grab her upper arm and, pushing my thumb into that little spot two inches from her armpit, definitely get my point across.

This morning I was telling her how important it is that she doesn't act insane or go out of her way to be naughty when her brother is babysitting. She said "Okay. Because otherwise I won't go to the Miley Cyrus concert. Or to the basketball game. Or trick or treating. Are you mad right now? Cuz your eyes look kinda mad." I guess she's catching on to how things are done around here.

When she figures out that the threats never stick and of course I'll take her to see Miley Cyrus, I can always take her DS away for a couple weeks. That is a threat that I always follow through on.

1 comment:

hmaines said...

Truly hilarious. And wise.