Friday, January 9, 2009

Parenting 101

Since I already spilled my guts in my previous entry about my nagging guilt, I figure I must proceed.

It is a common occurrence that I get extremely unwarranted compliments on my mothering skills.

For instance, at my niece's birthday party a couple of months ago, a friend of my sister-in-law informed me that I am, "such an easy-going mom."

"You are so calm and relaxed for having triplets plus one." She explained that her sister in Mexico City has triplets and she is always stressed out and panicked about things.

Because I believe that telling the truth is always the best policy, and because my all-knowing mother and step-father heard the compliment, I swallowed hard a few times and then came clean.

I admitted that I am very good at keeping a calm front and that I have nearly perfected the art of making others believe that I have it all under control at ALL times!

If only this sweet woman with the kind compliment could have seen the incident that took place in a very busy restaurant just a short month ago, she would surely retract her words!

In typical Annie fashion, she woke from a short slumber with a chip on her shoulder. Maybe it was due to the discomfort of sleeping in a clothing store shopping cart, or maybe it was because the line to check-out was a miserable 20 minutes long due to last minute Christmas shoppers. None-the-less, she carried a chip!

Because a bean and cheese burrito with sour cream sounded like the perfect cure-all, we pulled into a local mexican restaurant for lunch. After placing our order, Annie informed me through her still falling tears, that she wanted fruit punch to drink instead of the water I ordered for her.

The whole room began to close in on me as the altercation escalated and her voice became raised. I could hear burritos, tostadas, and enchiladas falling to their plates as the other patrons of the restaurant watched to see how I was going to handle this noisy situation.

Because I have taken enough child development classes to know proper techniques for dealing with children, I got down on my knees so that I could speak with her at her level. Through clenched teeth housed inside a beat red face, I informed her that if she didn't stop her ranting immediately, I would take her outside and swat her bottom and sit her in the car until she was quiet!

When she wouldn't conform, the many strategies I'd learned in child development classes immediately left my repetoire! With fingers gently firmly placed around her sweet little neck, I escorted her outside and swatted her bottom as I had promised.

Little did I know that a professor of child development would cross my path while I was laying down the law.

You see, a construction worker who had the same hankering for Mexican food that afternoon happened to walk out the door as my hand met Annie's butt. He proceeded to walk the 10 yards to the corner of the parking lot where his work truck was parked. I'm pretty sure he was putting some space between himself and me, before he decided to butt into my situation.

Before closing his door after sitting down inside, he shouted across to me, "Hey lady! You could use some parenting classes."

With my blood pressure already elevated to a level that was surely capable of causing a heart attack, I turned my wrath on him.

"Excuuuuse me?"

"You could really use some parenting classes. She's just a child."

And as if I really cared about his humble opinion, I questioned, "So what? You think I should have left her inside that crowded restaurant and let her ruin everyone's quiet meal with her screaming?"

"I don't care, but you never hit a child."

My generally non-confrontational personality went on vacation as quickly as my child development strategies did just a few minutes earlier, and I yelled back at one hundred a few octaves higher, "I never asked for your opinion. It's none of your business how I discipline my children. Why don't you get in your car and get out of here!"

And as if he was trying to prove himself the "Master of Parenting," he informed me that he had three children at home. Did that mean he had three children he never spanked? Or three children he never raised his voice to? Or three children that he parented perfectly for however many years they had been on this planet? I had no idea.

"Big wow," I replied. "I have four."

Rubbing salt in the wound, he came back with, "Well, you sure don't do a very good job!"

I'm pretty sure the anger on my face caused him to run for safety. It was for his own good that he got in his car and drove away because I was just about to unleash my wrath on him. His would not be a swift swat on the butt, rather it would have been a closed-knuckle fist straight to his face.
All of this over a little girl named Annie, who woke up grumpy, in typical Annie fashion!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just a minute....

I would love to be able to say that my lack of posts is due to the fact that I have been letting other things go in order to make more time to play with my kids. That is not exactly the case and it is the source of much guilt for me.

I am the queen of...
"Wait just a minute."
"I'll be with you when I am done doing this."
"Give me two seconds."
"I have to get this done first."

All of these referring to things such as:

Folding laundry.
Putting laundry away.
Organizing a pantry.
Organizing a linen closet.
Organizing a playroom.

All things that are already probably overly organized for a normal person, but not well enough organized for me. All things that are much less important than playing with my kids.

Does it really matter that all the labels on the canned goods are facing out?
Or that all the pants are buttoned before throwing them into the laundry basket?

Is it really necessary that the toys be cleaned up the moment the kids are done playing with them?

Or that the floor under their eating table be swept up the moment they walk away from a meal?
I know that all of these things are COMPLETELY unnecessary, but my brain cannot wrap around the concept.

I am the queen of "Sweating the small stuff," and I can't figure out how to fix the problem.

Especially when I am suffering from PMS!

Why do I care about all of these things? I really couldn't tell you.

It's just part of my genetic make-up. Me in a disorganized house is like a fish out of water. I flop about trying to survive when I'm in the midst of disarray.
And then, as if everyone knows I am struggling with this issue, I get an email like this to thump me on the head:

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door.

SON: 'Daddy, may I ask you a question?'

DAD: 'Yeah sure, what it is?' replied the man.

SON: 'Daddy, how much do you make an hour?'

DAD: 'That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?' the man said angrily.

SON: 'I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?'

DAD: 'If you must know, I make $50 an hour.'

SON: 'Oh,' the little boy replied, with his head down. 'Daddy, may I please borrow $25?'

The father was furious, 'If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I don't work hard everyday for such childish frivolity.'
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down , and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $25.00 and he really didn't ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy's room and opened the door.

'Are you asleep, son?' He asked.

'No daddy, I'm awake,' replied the boy.
'I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier' said the man. 'It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the $25 you asked for.'

The little boy sat straight up, smiling.

'Oh, thank you daddy!' he yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

'Why do you want more money if you already have some?' the father grumbled.

'Because I didn't have enough, but now I do,' the little boy replied. 'Daddy, I have $50 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.'

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

And just the other day my Isaac asked me to put a deck of cards into the box for him and I automatically replied while folding a shirt out of the drier, "Sure, Isaac. Set it right there and I'll do it in a second."
Twenty minutes later he returned to the laundry room to retrieve his boxed cards, only to find them still scattered about. He scouted me out to ask me, "Mom? Do you ever really listen to what I say? I asked you nicely to help me put my cards away and you didn't do it."
Guilty. I'm guilty as charged by my 5 year old son. And by my 5 year old daughters and my 3 1/2 year old daughter. Guilty!

But tomorrow is a new day and this is a new year.

I plan to spend more time in 0-9, letting the small stuff go, and truly enjoying the blessings that have been entrusted to me!

I'm working and telling the laundry, the floors, the bedrooms, this whole house,

"Wait just minute."
"I'll be with you when I'm done playing with my kids."

"Give me 5 minutes."

"I have to enjoy my kids first!"

Minutes turn to hours, hours to days, and days to years. It is all time that can never be replayed and I'm going to work diligently on cherishing every-single-moment!