Saving the Bad Behaviour … For You

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Last week, my daughters’ school held its book fair, so we stopped by the library on the way home to shop. While we were browsing, the school librarian approached me. She gestured at my daughters and asked, “Are you responsible for these young ladies? They are just so sweet. They have the best manners I’ve ever seen.”

I smiled and nodded and thanked her. We finished up shopping, stopped on the way home for a small birthday cake, and ate dinner.

While J went to the bathroom, M and I set the table for dessert. J walked up to the dining table and started pushing at M, claiming that M was in her chair. I asked J to choose another chair, and the surround sound whining got underway. I tried to reason with the children through the drone of their complaining voices, but no one was listening to anyone.

I stood up and lifted M out of her chair.

“No one will sit. We will eat my cake standing,” I told the girls.

“I hate you!” my sweet J told me, her chin jutting out. “You’re a horrible meany mommy.”

“You’re not fair,” the oh-so-well-mannered M added. “You don’t love me.”

I put the cake away, untasted. I tried to tell the girls exactly why no one would be eating any cake, but I doubt they heard me over their screams and drumming feet. I tried to tell them that they needed to get ready for bed, but they couldn’t hear that either.

Fortunately, at age 7, my children can be trusted, even in a ridiculous tantrum state, not to to anything particularly dangerous. I retired to bed myself, leaving them to scream. I knew that I was close to yelling myself, and that would serve no purpose except to validate the girls’ own behaviour as acceptable.

In M's writing: Dear Mom, We are very sorry. We made this your worst birthday.
M wrote me this heartfelt apology. (What does it mean that my 7-year-old has better handwriting than I have ever had?)

At 9:00 pm, the volume in the girls’ room had fallen, so I put away their toys, kissed them goodnight, and turned out the lights. My head hurt. The next morning, I took some favourite toys away for a day as a consequence of the girls’ poor choices. They were genuinely sorry, apologized wholeheartedly, and gracefully accepted the loss of their toys.

I was thankful, once again, for the parenting wisdom of LauraC. Years ago, she pointed out to me that kids will often act out with their parents, even while exhibiting exemplary behaviour with others. Especially after spending long hours away from their parents at daycare or school, kids are able to let loose with their parents. They know that our love for them is unconditional. They can take us for granted. I’ve seen this with friends’ kids too; after a weekend of good behaviour as a house guest, I’ve seen 4- and 6-year-olds turn into whiny messes at the sight of their mom, even before leaving our house.

Much as J and M’s bickering and overreaction frustrates me, they feel safe with me. This safety permits them let out the emotions they’ve held pent up all day while being well-mannered and sweet. That idea gives me the boost to hold in my own emotions after a long day at work. It’s my job to let the girlies know that they’re safe with me. I won’t accept bad behaviour, but I will always accept my daughters.

Is there some word of wisdom that carries you through the challenging times?

Sadia is raising her 7 year-old identical twin daughters, M and J, in the Austin, TX area. She is divorced and works in higher ed information technology. She is originally from the UK and Bangladesh, but has lived in the US since college.

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Highs and Lows of Parenting by: Krissy

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I have noticed a trend among mommy-bloggers and facebook-ers…either the posts and updates are sugary-sweet and upbeat, with the goal being not to seem ungrateful for their multiple bundles of joy; or they are wise-crackin’ disaster stories rife with sarcasm and self-deprecation. An example of the later would be The Meanest Mom. Have you guys read her stuff?!  Or how about Jen at Amazing Trips?Hysterical, honest and definitely not your regular mommy-blog.

I think I fall more in the first category, putting a positive spin on sleepless nights (time to pray over the kids!); illnesses (it could be worse! at least it’s not serious!), and behavioral issues (must be another developmental stage!). As a christian mom, and a mom who conceived due to infertility treatments, I often craft my blogging posts to reflect the best part of the day, so that I don’t seem ungrateful or ungodly…if that seems silly to you, then maybe “ANONYMOUS” has never commented on your blog at the slightest hint of a complaining attitude!

However, I had a day with my kids last week that got me to thinking about the highs and lows of parenting. (Please forgive the crudeness of this story.)

I woke up excited about meeting a couple of friends to go horseback riding. I only go once or twice a summer, and I was so looking forward to trying to hang on and have fun with out falling off or looking like the untrained rider that I am. The ride itself was a blast, I was some what in control of my horse, we cantered in an open field, I didn’t split my head open or need medical attention…as success in my opinion!

Upon arriving home, coated in horse grit and hot from wearing heavy jeans, I was greeted by two unhappy children. For whatever reason, when I leave them with a babysitter (in this case their grandmother), they choose to punish me for leaving them for a few hours. The whining, hitting and unhappiness was at an all time high.

They had been having a great time playing in the sprinkler until I got home, then nothing would satisfy them, and I could feel all the good endorphins from my fun ride and time alone quickly dissipating. Soon, I recognized the unmistakable odor of toddler poop. Realizing that the kids were in soaking wet bathing suits, which are lined with washable swim diapers, I decided to undress the culprit in the front yard rather than risk a wet, nasty mess getting on my living room floor. Can you see where this is headed?!

Pull down 1st diaper…water logged poop and gravity are not a good combo…poop all over the grass. Gagging, I clean up the culprit and leave the mess in the yard. Anxious to get my kids into the tub, I yank down the 2nd diaper, only to find an equally disgusting mess. Child #2  is scrubbed without mercy with the ever present diaper wipes. Two heaps of poopy swim suits are left in the hot sun.

Cajole naked kids up the steps. Place in tub. They fight, fall several times, get scolded, are clean, dry and put in fresh diapers and clean clothes. Nap time begins 1/2 an hour early.

I head back outside to deal with the mess, only to encounter a hoard of flies which have descended upon my children’s feces. Consider blasting the mess with the hose, but realize that will only spread the mess out further. Dispose of used baby wipes, and carry the mess downstairs to the laundry room. I am really unsure of how to proceed, as this has never happened before! Decide to rinse the diapers out in the deep sink-INSTANT MISTAKE! Did you know watery bits of poo can clog a sink?! S***!

Pull out an old craft paintbrush, wiggle around the stick part, dislodge the mess, comence gagging, and pull out the bleach. Oh, did I mention I had to clean up my lawn with baby wipes?!

Nap time did not help my kids’ dispositions. They wake up hungry, demanding and irritable. Irritable is also a good word to describe the state their mother is in. Call my husband to inquire about his ETA. We had plans to take the kids on a short bike ride. Hubby says he will be home soon, and asks me to bring the biking gear to the front yard so he can quickly load it on the bike rack.

While the kids are eating a pitiful dinner of rice crispies, I dash around to the garage and haul up the necessary bike helmets, bikes and tag-along seats. When I return to the dining room, I am greeted with an abstract art piece made of rice crispies. Milk soaked, these little crackling cereal bits coat my dining room table, chairs and floor. Trying not to get flustered, I decide to wait until later to deal with the mess (impossible to clean up the cereal while wet, better to wait until it is dry.)

I get the kids in clean diapers, shoes, and send them outside to wait for their father, who with any luck, will show up in 2.5 seconds. Thankfully, my knight arrives and quickly loads up the bikes and gear. The kids, who are normally ecstatic to go bike-riding, yell at each other the entire 20 minute drive to the park. We quickly assemble the bike seats, plop them in them, and start peddling. I pulled the short straw apparently, as I have the complaining one directly behind me, issuing orders in a pint-sized voice.

What I did not count on is the effect on my legs and posterior from the horseback riding…I could barely pedal my bike up the hills…my toddler companion is swatting me in the bum saying “Go Mommy! GO!”

Bedtime is nearing, and I call it quits. We head home to the chorus of more whining, and my nerves, frayed from the day, are ready to let loose…we pull into parking lot to pick up dinner (what can I say? I don’t like rice crispies for dinner!) and I beg my husband to let me be the one who gets to stand in line at Chipotle! Anything to get me away from the kids!

We get home, change the kids into their pj’s, brush their teeth, pray with them, rock them and put them to bed with a kiss and assurances of how much we love them. And love them we do!

Now, if I had just blogged about the morning horseback riding, and the evening family bike ride, I would have painted a much less accurate portrait of our day…but it would have been a tidier post! Personally, I relate better to the bloggers who speaking lovingly of their family with a good dose of realism thrown in. Any blogs you regularly read for the honest portrayal of parenthood? Are you a glass full or glass empty blogger?

Would love to hear your comments and see your blog recommendations!

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