Re: Mean Mommy

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Finally, a front-page post about parenting to which I can relate.

From the child's side, of course, but still.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:27 AM
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Jeez, I just SAID I'm getting medicated to be nicer and more patient. You don't need to rub it in!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:28 AM
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You're so mean!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:33 AM
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I went to a talk yesterday by somebody who just wrote a book about using meditation/mindfulness practice to help with this kind of thing. It was less goofy than I was afraid it might be, although I suspect that very little of it is really parenting-specific.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:35 AM
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It's fine to think about this stuff, but for me it's often very simple: have I slept enough and eaten? If yes, then I'm a fine parent. If not, I'll fly off the handle. The trouble is that I, and most parents, almost never sleep enough. The connection between irritability and sleep deprivation isn't the least bit mysterious or controversial, but since it seems impossible for parents to sleep (in our sad, lonely, atomized capitalist nightmare) we talk about mindfulness and coping strategies.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:46 AM
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Even if we all got the sleep we needed, mindfulness might be useful.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:49 AM
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For me, the other variable is endurance of staying attuned to the kids. I hit a wall where I just want to be by myself. There are reasonable substitutes, like if you take them to the park, then you can sort of sit on a bench and zone out, but I lose the wherewithal to do such things if I'm overtired or super pregnant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 7:50 AM
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I feel like a bit of jerk talking about this sort of thing, because I didn't have much trouble with it but that largely goes with having easy kids and having an easier time keeping my temper than most (and having very fortunate, low stress, material circumstances). But leaving all that to one side and focusing on how I'm just a better parent than most people, I think a combination of picking your battles (and picking as few as practically possible) and being willing to exert authority firmly when you actually exert it makes life much easier.

When I look at other parents of small children having a miserable time, what it often looks like to me is that they're negotiating with their kids in the hope of getting voluntary compliance, and the negotiations are going unacceptably badly. And this is idiotic -- if you're going to negotiate, it has to be an acceptable outcome that the kid gets their way. If the kid getting their way isn't acceptable, then you ask them nicely to do whatever it your way once or twice, and then go straight to compulsion rather than getting angrier while you try to talk them into complying. If you're willing to pull out compulsion as a tactic before you get angry, you spend a whole lot less time getting angry.

(This breaks down a bit on 'what do you mean, compulsion?' For a toddler, it's things like "You can put the shirt on, or I'll hold you and put it on you," literally physical compulsion. For an older kid it turns into more like direct, specific orders and refusing to engage for anything but obedience -- I mean, it's obvious in the moment how it works, and I see other parents not trying that kind of thing when it seems like an obvious solution to me, but I could imagine a really difficult kid for which it would fail.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:07 AM
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Looking back at that, though, while both the picking battles and the being willing to exert authority parts of it are important, the part that comes up a lot more is having a very broad range within which it's fine if the kid gets their way in the negotiation. You can't go to the mat on every little issue, and if you consciously accept that, then there's nothing to get angry about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:09 AM
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LB describes our instincts, practice and experience exactly.

Do you have easy kids or make them? Both: it's a feedback loop.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:19 AM
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Larger families probably do make it all a lot harder -- I have no idea how I would have managed more than two.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:31 AM
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I recognize the dynamic of 8 in other parents, but really (and maybe this is a self-serving belief) not in myself. There are just a whole lot of situations where the kids aren't doing anything wrong, but are very wound up and hungry for attention, and after a while I'm spent, and they're still going nuts. Then the type of thing that I overreact to is misbehavior where the kid should know better, or sibling rivalry and provoking each other.

Generally the answer is to get out of the house and take them to the park.

Also, laying down firm, quick consequences and following through is right, of course, but Hokey Pokey escalates these situations - there's a firm line, and he crosses it, and you enforce the consequence, and all of a sudden he's dumping his dinner on the floor, throwing plates, biting, scratching, screaming, etc. Sometimes the accumulation of all that is what sets me off.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:31 AM
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It's funny -- firm, quick consequences and following through sounds sensible, and it probably works for people, but it doesn't feel like a description of how I managed things. Consequences is for what happens when you've disobeyed -- when what I was doing was working, they either weren't disobeying, because I was fine with whatever the hell they wanted to do, or they weren't disobeying, because I had compelled them to obey. Dealing with disobedience after the fact just didn't come up much.

In that kind of escalating tantrummy situation, I think I dealt with it as about my comfort rather than the kid's bad behavior, and put them in a room that I wasn't in until they cooled off.

(And I'm making this sound as if I had total effortless control of my perfectly behaved children at all times. Which, no. They still eat like refugees in a post-apocalyptic zombie movie, and they're complete smartasses. If I didn't find disrespect endearingly appealing, life would be hard.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:43 AM
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Do you have easy kids or make them? Both: it's a feedback loop.

I did my best with what I had. Apparently, the kids want fur.


Posted by: Opinionated Wire Monkey Mother | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:46 AM
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when what I was doing was working, they either weren't disobeying, because I was fine with whatever the hell they wanted to do, or they weren't disobeying, because I had compelled them to obey.

I'd love some quick fixes, so I'm going to keep going with this. The above choice just seems to leave out so much, but I'm not sure how. Maybe the "compelled them to obey" part?

For an older kid it turns into more like direct, specific orders and refusing to engage for anything but obedience

What does "refusing to engage for anything but obedience" mean, if they disobey a direct order?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:50 AM
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LB's comments all sound like they were written by someone who has never been a parent, or even spent much time around kids. "Disobey? I don't understand. Why dont you just compel them to obey?"


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:54 AM
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And I'm actually not in a particularly rough patch right now - I generally have been okay with my reserves of patience, lately. I just thought the article was nice. What Ogged said about plenty of sleep is right, and that's the best part about this sabbatical.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 8:58 AM
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"Clear the table."

[Keeps watching a video, mutters] "Later."

[Stand between child and video/switch video off/take absorbing toy or book or whatever from child.] "Stand up. Pick up that cup. Put it in the dishwasher...." with continued specific orders until the kid starts finishing the task spontaneously.

Anything the kid says in an attempt to evade obedience, other than a verifiable reason why they can't obey ("My leg is broken.") gets a flat repetition of the order, until it's obeyed. (Sort of? I'd have to watch myself and think about it in a situation like this to be sure of exactly what I was doing.) It's not that defiance is impossible -- I really may be attributing to skill and force of personality what was largely about having easy kids -- but it didn't seem to happen much.

And there was some tantrummy stuff, not all that much but some, and that got them put someplace else where I didn't have to deal. Be upset if you like, but you can do it in your room.

To be fair, this sort of thing is really hard when you're juggling demands from multiple directions, or when you're trying to make a schedule, all of which are things you're dealing with more than I ever did, with more kids over a broader age range. I'm really not saying I could necessarily handle that all gracefully.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:03 AM
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16: Well, you're bigger and stronger than your kids, aren't you? (I'm actually not any more, but I used to be.) You can lift them, you can move them from place to place, you can prevent them from doing anything other than the thing you want them to do by holding them still. And you're presumably more patient than they are. I'm not saying you can compel a kid to do anything you want (like, people who try to make their kids eat when the kid doesn't want to? A, I think they shouldn't, and B, that one's really hard.) but you can compel them to do a lot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:06 AM
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For a toddler, it's things like "You can put the shirt on, or I'll hold you and put it on you," literally physical compulsion.

This is the thing we are struggling with at the moment. xelA is both incredibly strong, and unwilling to give in. So it can be surprisingly hard to [safely] exert that physical compulsion.

And xelA will have tantrums that run the risk of injury. Throwing himself to the floor, or against hard objects. So, there's a limit to how much you can leave him to blow himself out.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:11 AM
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Ok, I'd call that "breaking it down into bite-size pieces until the demand is followed", which, yeah Hawaii is old enough for but Pokey is only getting bite-sized orders right now anyway.

Anyway, Pokey and Hawaii are vastly, vastly different in how they provoke/disrupt/whatever at age 3-4, but Hawaii has mostly grown out of the worst of it.

As long as I'm airing grievances about the children, what I'm most conflicted about, with Hawaii, is when she gets in trouble for things that border on just a lack of charisma. In other words, if she did the same exact thing with more charm, we'd let her do it. For example, she sits down next to you, and you're chatting. Then she's really in your space. Then she's starting to grind her chin into you, and when you ask her to stop she swaps out some other equally obnoxious behavior. In this specific situation, I'd get up and walk away, so it's not a perfect example. But there are a whole lot of situations where she's escalating annoying behavior and if she had a better sense of our personal space, or whatever, she wouldn't piss us off. (Pokey has a much better intuitive grasp of this kind of thing. It's not exactly age.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:12 AM
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Talking about parenting seems like talking about other people's relationships. I'm sure that there are general rules, but individual situations are all so different. Autism is an extreme example, but I'm sure that there are things will has had to do with his daughter that he never could have imagined doing before she came along.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:17 AM
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It helped enormously, w/r/t freshness and restedness, that both of us had underachieving careers when our children were young. I was a lawyer with a 37.5 hr flexible schedule, and while she carried a full teaching load and co-authored 3 books, she didn't have any committee assignments or other typical time-suckers. She could be home 2-3 days in the week grading and prepping.

We had a regular babysitter, daffy but loving. She quickly enlisted my daughter as a co-conspirator in her dietary and eco-notions. My wife was irritated and sometimes downright angry but fortunately we never broke the relationship, so important for continuity and trust.

So we had leisure and not much stress, and although we could have worked longer and harder and built careers, I think our family would have been compromised if we had.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:24 AM
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21: Huh. Do you think it's really a lack of charm/charisma, or more active boundary pushing? It sounds like more the latter than the former.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:25 AM
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Also, being pulled in lots of directions with several kids actually cuts both ways. Families act as a system. When one kid acts up, the rest generally pull it together and start being model little angels. I've heard this described as "one kid is expressing the [X] for all of them", where X can be disobedience, but it can also be responsibility, or desire for intimacy, or whatever. That having one kid express the demand or desire allows the other kids to feel like they can just exist peacefully for the moment. (It's akin to knowing that someone else in the group is more anxious about getting somewhere on time than you are - you are off the hook for ensuring that you arrive on time, and you can relax and let them nip at people's ankles.)

And in fact, if Pokey is throwing a giant tantrum, the best thing for him is for Ace to start acting up, because then he has some genuine breathing room (as opposed to I'm-leaving-you-in-this-room-out-of-choice-not-necessity breathing room) and he gets intrinsically pulled towards existing peacefully.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:26 AM
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23: Yeah, I worked long hours, but I usually got weekends off, and Buck had a very flexible schedule, and our 9-5 babysitter was perfect and wonderful and dealt with the kids very much along the same lines we did. Man, did we get lucky with her. Again, anything obnoxious I say should be in context of how ridiculously easy I had it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:27 AM
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24: It could easily be the latter, but it feels so damn obnoxious. Like, "Why on earth is she doing this? I'm sitting here, fully engaged and enjoying chatting with her, and she's deliberately trying to provoke me? What more does she want?!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:28 AM
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LB sounds like I feel. Sometimes I read things about people and their teenagers, and they say "oh noes, how do I get my lazy child to help in the house?" and I'm thinking, "you say, 'right, time to wash up now' and it happens." Clearly it's actually a bit more complicated than that.

And yeah, annoyingly ogged is right too. Took me longer than it should have to make the connection - I used to wonder why the children always played up more when I really wasn't up to coping with it ... aha! It's not you kid, it's me.

You must be knackered atm. Tell the kids that you had all of them so they could play with each other and you didn't have to get involved, and leave them to it. Also, rest before you are tired. Then you get to feel the benefit a bit.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:29 AM
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Keegan was effortless to parent. Noah was decidedly more challenging but when it gets down to it is still basically compliant and wants to please. Cassidy appears bound and determined to see what it takes to enter the child abuse zone. She was dangerously close to discovering it this morning.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:29 AM
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27: Hrm. No real idea what she's thinking, but something that I think I was also a lot more willing to do than a lot of parents I saw was make an issue explicitly about my comfort, in an arbitrary kind of way. Kid starts being annoying, you can tell them to go sit out of reach somewhere, not because of any non-arbitrary right or wrong about it, but just because you're annoyed and if the kid isn't touching you then you won't be annoyed. Sort of a one kid dealing with another kid kind of interaction, but calmer; not about right or wrong but just making them stop.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:35 AM
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27.last: Total domination.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:35 AM
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||
Asilon:
Do you ever go over to Belgium in cold weather? that Koppenbergcross on Saturday was genuinely exciting, and you very seldom see a cyclocross race won with teamwork like that. I know you've been on those very hills in the spring, with the same beer and sausages.
|>


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:39 AM
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You must be knackered atm. Tell the kids that you had all of them so they could play with each other and you didn't have to get involved, and leave them to it. Also, rest before you are tired. Then you get to feel the benefit a bit.

At the moment, I've got the luxury of napping almost daily, so I'm actually not having much problems parenting at the moment. I just posted this because the article resonated. (The absolute worst was last spring, when I felt super awful, had a normal-busy semester, and was exhausted.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:40 AM
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My daughter was a raging bitch on Sunday. We went to see some local bands. She saw a jacket that looked like one of her's so she tried to steal it. Would not give it up. Finally, she gave it up, but continued to periodically hit me and let out loud screams. Fortunately, the band was loud so it was not a huge disturbance. After the bands were done, she still refused to leave. I tried everything from being sweet, being silly, to whispering horrible threats of bodily harm. (Great parent!)

About 30 mins after the place was empty, she decided she would rather leave once I move all the tables out of my way and told her I was about to carry her out.

She got into the car nicely. Then changed her mind and wanted to go back. This involved trying to climb into the front seat and grabbing me.

She finally decided that my proffered bribe of a milkshake sounded ok and calmed down.

After getting her milkshake, she dragged me into a friend's wineshop/restaurant and we had an amazingly sweet night. I think she just knew her dad needed some wine after she had been so bad.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:41 AM
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I'm with LB. We definitely did not tolerate lots of wheedling, whining, or tantrums. Once kid know a parent is also capable of insane rages they become easier to deal with.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:41 AM
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Jeez! C'mon, caffeine! Insert small words and letters in 35 as necessary.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:43 AM
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I mean, 30 is basically what I do. Maybe I'm using punishment/consequences/etc too loosely. Either I get up and leave, or I ask her to give me some space, or whatever. It's not an actual punishment to be handed down that evening or something.

She does something similar with Ace - she adores Ace, but escalates and escalates until Ace is screaming to be left alone. By "escalate" I mean that she'll start off with a very happy and compliant Ace, and then she'll do something that makes Ace say "No!" and then she'll do it again, and get in Ace's face, and suddenly be physically smothering her with Ace screaming bloody murder. But she seems to really just want to interact with Ace, not have it explode on her this way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:43 AM
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a parent is also capable of insane rages they become easier to deal with.

Oh, come to think I'm sounding all super calm and rational, but I definitely had use for a shockingly loud bellow on occasion, like, loud enough that it usually got an immediate freeze, which would let me start maintaining order calmly and rationally again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:44 AM
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AARGH! This completely gets at the parenting fail I had yesterday when I called my 5yo a name. She is NOT an easy child. She has a quick temper and gets very physical. The issue was getting dressed. I can't compel her to get dressed because I really wouldn't win this as a physical battle (you try wrestling tights on a non-compliant child; it's a Herculean task to get them on at the best of times). She had two choices of outfits and refused both. Then she refused to get dressed at all (complete with verbal and physical tantrumming), and this was what sent me over the edge, ran away and hid so I couldn't find her. Of course, we were late for school anyway, so I couldn't just ignore her and go away.

I finally found her under her bed. I lost it and told her I was done dealing with her ridiculous behavior, called her a name, and said I was leaving for school in 10 minutes. If she didn't get dressed, I was going to take her in her pyjamas. I loaded the car, got myself ready, and at the 10 minute mark, she finally came downstairs and let me put her dress on her. We were late to school and I had to sign her in at the office.

I recognize that I lost my temper and I should never have called her a name, but there are just so many stupid little pressures and things that add up--she will only wear dresses, but hates to wear tights. She has many hard preferences about clothing--there is only ONE jacket she will tolerate wearing and ONE pair of shoes. All others are a no go. Her teacher repeatedly sends home little reminders about dressing kids warmly (i.e., they think she needs to wear tights with her dress, even though I say let her be cold--she's never cold). The teacher also says if she doesn't wear tights, she needs to wear bike shorts under her dress for modesty at recess (she loves to hang upside down); guess what, she doesn't like that either. So getting her dressed in a way that she and the school will tolerate is often difficult, and the laundry situation is dire so there weren't as many options as usual. We were running late, the dog was being a total pain, I didn't have time to brush my teeth or put on makeup, my older daughter was being particularly mouthy about putting the damn ipad down, closing out minecraft, and putting her backpack on and going to school, so I didn't have the 20-30 minutes I would need to deal with a tantrum.

I do notice that it is the time pressure that shorts out my temper. It is just so hard to get everyone out the door, deal with all of their issues (can't find socks, can't find shoes, can't find jacket because they never put their crap away and the house is such a mess that we're losing stuff inside of it, but I clearly don't have time to put things away and no one else is ever motivated to do so). On weekends when we don't have to be anywhere at a particular time, it is just much easier.


Posted by: President Hillary Clinton | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:45 AM
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We definitely did not tolerate lots of wheedling, whining, or tantrums.

Oh, I should try not-tolerating it. Thanks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:45 AM
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I disagree with the idea (from the linked piece) that "you parent the way you were parented." My parents did a great job of raising five kids and having high-pressure jobs, but keeping us in line involved the element of fear—including, when were little, the threat of bare-ass belt-enhanced spankings, which were beyond humiliating—and I think my own parenting has largely been a reaction against the emotional frigidity I grew up with. But I still lose my shit occasionally.

This summer, one of my daughters borrowed their mom's phone to text me that she'd gotten her period, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for knowing that I hadn't yet fucked up so badly as a parent that she wouldn't share that kind of thing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:48 AM
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We aspired to LB-type parenting and often had heebie-type experiences, especially with our daughter, who always has had a big, forceful personality. If I was tired, I was a far crappier parent than if I was rested - only took about 5 years for me really to act on that. A huge learning curve for all of us.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:50 AM
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37.2: That does seem a little odd at her age -- sixish? Like, purposefully tormenting a sibling would be perfectly normal, albeit obnoxious, but well-meaning escalation like that seems peculiar. It seems as if she'd be old enough to talk about what she thinks is going on explicitly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:50 AM
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Actually, I quite like emotional frigidity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:51 AM
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(My mother, lately, when we talk about my delightful children, has developed a penchant for drifting off into how difficult I was. I have restrained myself from pointing out that they're dealing with me, while I had to deal with her.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:54 AM
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41: Agreed. There's nowhere near a 1 to 1 transfer down generation, IMX.

Anyway, near as I can tell (and my youngest hits 44 today) the difference from today is we had a very clear demarcation between adult and child, and our decisions on matters of importance (and we decided what was important) weren't negotiable.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:58 AM
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43: She's very, very guarded in this kind of conversation. I bet she would know the phenomenon, but would be prickly in a conversation about it.

There are versions of it all over the place - her swim teacher, who she adores, describes basically the same thing. Same with Grandma. The only group who appears immune is her peers and older kids, who will cheerfully ditch her the moment they are annoyed. But anyone who has a competing obligation to stay attuned will find it tested and strained, even though she really seems to want the ongoing connection.

One thing that works with swim teacher, etc, is very explicit rules about what's okay and what's not okay - "No hanging on her back when she's working with Hokey Pokey". But other times, like with Ace, it's harder to identify the rules.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 9:59 AM
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The only group who appears immune is her peers and older kids, who will cheerfully ditch her the moment they are annoyed.

I don't know exactly what I'm thinking, but I find this very reassuring (that is, from the way you put it, I assume that getting ditched works, and so she successfully does interact with them reasonably most of the time.) Not that it's not annoying for you, but if it's not a problem with her peers I'd guess it's not any kind of serious problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:05 AM
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I think that's true. It's not a serious problem, and she's capable of reeling it in with peers, or pouting a bit after getting ditched, and getting over it.

But it's an example of how I'll find myself short-tempered and exasperated, without having had her directly disobey an order or break a super-explicit rule. It just sneaks up on me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:10 AM
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39 sounds super frustrating, HRC. It's funny how I relate to much of what you're saying, but don't have those exact problems. I find the unstructured time on the weekends much harder.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:11 AM
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46.2: I don't know if my anti-authoritarian attitude is that obvious to them, but when I try to exercise authority there's a palpable sense of "you and I both/all know this is bullshit" for everyone involved. And I have to respect that, because empathy. I can cajole with rewards or threaten with punishment, but mostly I just have to make my case. It seems to be working so far.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:17 AM
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That is funny, I haven't thought of it as specifically something to do with parenting, but I'm very fond of clear hierarchies. I'll hash things out and make a rational case about the best thing to do, but I really want there to be someone, could be me, but it's fine with me if it isn't, in the position to make the final decision. Indecisive bosses who want everything to be consensus driven me batshit.

So I have a very comfortable time with being a relaxed, reasonable, but arbitrary and despotic authority.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:22 AM
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34: You do the best you can with what you're handed. I have to tell myself that everyday viz a viz my parents.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:24 AM
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21: Bite-size orders are the only way I can get myself to work most mornings. "All you have to do is rename this table." "All you have to do is add this validation." "There, that wasn't so hard, want to peel yourself and the Macbook off the floor now?"

I also sympathize with HRC and recognize that pattern in getting our 3yo dressed (on bad days; there are also good days). What worries me is that right now both parents are transitioning from idp-style underachievers into ogged's atomized capitalist nightmare, so hurrah, we're not going to get evicted but it's clearly going to make for crappier mornings.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:26 AM
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37 and 43: I wonder if she just struggles with reading body language. And if that's the case, it might be worth talking about it explicitly. She's a very organized, maybe even slightly anxious kid, right? It might be that she's sorting things out into rules, and human interactions don't always fit neatly into categories.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:30 AM
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52 is me. I like the clarity of a clean hierarchy. Faffing about trying to get consensus is worth it sometimes, but more often than not it's better to have somebody with the ability to shut down conversation and just get something done.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:35 AM
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51: If it works, it works. I'm not particularly prescriptive as long as the kids stay off my lawn. I'm with LB again, the stance back when was to have as few rules as possible, but those got enforced firmly. (And bugging the shit of a tired and frustrated adult wasn't a good idea. It's still not.)


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:39 AM
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I don't know if my anti-authoritarian attitude is that obvious to them, but when I try to exercise authority there's a palpable sense of "you and I both/all know this is bullshit" for everyone involved.

That's exactly how I feel with students. I guess if I'm ever a parent it'll be worse.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:42 AM
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52: Trust me, I would love a clear hierarchy with me at the top, and I do usually get my way, but I think I may have communicated a little too much about the transparent (or trans-parent, if you want to be all post-structuralist about it) arbitrariness of hierarchies. One of the girls is pretty self-governing and likes order, but the other is a natural rebel (and a little Bartleby when it comes to homework).


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:43 AM
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Once kid know a parent is also capable of insane rages they become easier to deal with.

There was once a time when this seemed true with our kids--an insane rage would solve any behavior issue in the moment. But it wouldn't solve them for all time, and after the kids have seen quite a few insane rages they start to lose their effect. At this point my wife can scream till she's blue in the face and the kids main reaction is that they've actually taken to glancing furtively at one another and trying to hold back chortles of laughter at the perceived ridiculousness of her yelling (which really sets her off, let me tell you). It's like they've realized that for all she's going to stomp around like an angry ape, she's not actually going to do anything to seriously hurt them. They're a little better with me because I don't yell at them nearly as much, so it's still got some novelty, but it's hardly a panacea.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:45 AM
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55: I was wondering if it has something to do with being very interested in rules -- that Hawaii is trying to experimentally figure out exactly where the rules are for how to treat people by pushing, and pushing, and pushing, until she gets an absolutely unambiguous negative reaction, like her peers do when they ditch her. I mean, there's still something a little odd even if that's it, because it sounds as if she's blowing past some fairly unambiguous negative reactions from Ace, but if there were some particular reaction she's looking for as defining 'the line', and Ace isn't giving it to her, it could be something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:47 AM
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I recognize that I lost my temper and I should never have called her a name,

Jesus, yes, this. Good thing you commented presidentially so we don't all think ill of you from now on.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:48 AM
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Yikes! I didn't think my fail was that egregious. Return to silent lurking commences.


Posted by: President Hillary clinton | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:54 AM
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55, 61: yeah, I really don't know. Part of me feels like it's her way of expressing the opposite-of-anxiety side of herself. Like "I finally feel sufficiently safe and comfortable that I can indulge my desire to be a little shit."

Similarly, after the penis-incident at school, she's gotten a whole slew of frowny face daily reports. These are all exactly for the kind of thing I did as a kid - not raising my hand, talking too much, being disruptive - and while obnoxious, those are entirely predictable to me. The point being that she only misbehaves when she's gotten sufficiently comfortable and relaxed somewhere.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:55 AM
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63: I think urple was teasing you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:56 AM
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|| 32 - no, but C is starting to get into cyclocross (to get him through the winter I think), so possibly ask me again next year! I'm already moaning about probably not being able to go next spring as I'm on 17 weeks of placement. |>

(33 - good.)

HRC - will she wear leggings under her dresses?

I used to find things were easier when I had a protocol, so I could just move to the next step without having to get upset and think about what to do. So in 39's situation, I'd say to myself that if she didn't get dressed when I asked, I'd skip to the ten minute ultimatum, and leave the room. Having a plan and having made the decisions in advance made the next time easier. Ignore if I sound like a twat.

Can I have some parenting sympathy whilst it's being shared? Kid A has her Oxford "aptitude test" in the morning. I'm nervous!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:56 AM
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63: (A) Urple; (B) Sarcasm. Continue telling us about your perfectly normal parenting, presidential or not. I'm sure everyone with kids here has done worse on occasion -- while I'm talking big about my easy kids, I certainly have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 10:57 AM
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Yes, that was sarcasm. If the worst result of a particularly aggravating interaction with a recalcitrant child is that you break down and call this child a name, I'd say you're doing pretty well. Please save the presidential pseuds for the real sinners.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:01 AM
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Good luck to Kid A!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:01 AM
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65, 67: Ok, I wasn't sure. I guess I'm just twitchy about parenting stuff because there's so much judgment (or because of terrible parenting).

She will wear leggings if they are the perfect length, not too short, not too long, but all of the acceptable leggings were in the wash.

66: I agree about the protocol completely. It would be a lot more helpful if I had a clear plan, but winging it because I'm crunched for time is an unfortunate element of my life. I have also thought that the mornings would go easier if I got up half an hour earlier, but that plan has yet to be put into action because sleep.


Posted by: President Hillary Clinton | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:02 AM
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I mean, comment under whatever pseud you want, I don't care, it just seemed odd that you'd feel like you needed to. I was practically choking my oldest the other night (no, really), trying to get him upstairs to bed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:03 AM
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My kids are maybe not that easy in the scheme of things, nor did any of them have a ton of stability early on, though they are great. But we do a lot of rules, some of which can have child input and some of which can't. So leggings under skirts always, no leggings as pants ever.

I've tried to save yelling for strategic situations, like a child running into the street will get the "Oh my GOODNESS, I was just so scared and worried for you!" yell, and that's been effective. But I definitely do sometimes raise my voice and they all really dislike that because it tells them that something's off and then they'll often get worse because it means they can't trust me to be calm and keep everyone safe or whatever. Ugh. It also definitely triggers the Hawaii response of trying to get so close to me they could crawl through my skin if at all possible, which I hate but try to understand. (It's been sort of funny to see the big girls getting frustrated when Selah is lounging all over them or tugging at their backs and I have connected that this is what it feels like when they do the same to me, which I think they get and which may or may not be bad parenting.)

This is really hard stuff to manage sometimes, even if you do have protocols and theories. Lee is annoyed with me for yelling at the girls not to answer the door last night, claiming I'm going to make them paranoid, and I got pretty hurt and upset about that, but I do think it's important for them to see me fail and apologize and work to do better, and I am trying in general to do better.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:05 AM
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For morning and evening routines, we do a shit-ton of running the house like a Swiss clock. In fact, my stock answer to people asking "how do you do it?!" is to quote Mary Poppins, "A British bank is run with precision. A British home requires nothing less." So the kids pick out their clothes the night before, everything is packed and ready to go the night before, and so on. They brush their teeth under a very rigid routine (which involves me singing increasingly grotesque verses about boogers and butts and so on) and everything is generally incredibly regimented. It works great, but it'd be tough for me to pull off without being married to someone incredibly organized.

Then everything falls apart on the weekends...


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:07 AM
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Oh, come to think I'm sounding all super calm and rational, but I definitely had use for a shockingly loud bellow on occasion

Oh yes. I certainly have no guilt about the BIG BELLOW.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:07 AM
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Stop fat shaming.


Posted by: Opinionated Saul Bellow | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:09 AM
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For the Big Scary Scream, it takes such a toll on me. I only do it out of sheer exasperation and genuine losing-my-shit, and generally hate myself in those situations. I don't have a version that I can pull out productively.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:11 AM
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I mean, I have a stern, no-nonsense, I am done with this bullshit voice. Which is effective, but that's for when I'm keeping my composure. The scream means I've lost my composure.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:12 AM
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It's time for the "Good Enough Parent" concept to come around again.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:14 AM
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What voice do you use for the boogers and butts song?


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:14 AM
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My ok-you've-cajoled-me-into-singing-it-winky voice.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:16 AM
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The Big Bellow is odd -- it's not having lost my shit, which expresses itself in loud, but not Big Bellow loud, swearing when it happens. But I'm not bellowing as a coldblooded plan ("I will BELLOW now"), it's a snap reaction, after which I drop back to reasonably calm. Mine was actually originally developed for use on the dog, and then just carried over to the kids. It's impressively loud -- adults are taken aback when they hear it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:19 AM
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78 is very true. I'd say that's my goal. I suspect it's what most of us here are aiming for. There have also been specific therapeutic interventions (for lack of a better word) involved in teaching the older girls how families work and how to be safe in a family and what roles are involved, but it's so nice to get to ease up on some of that as they are doing so well.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:21 AM
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I never made it more than 50 pages or so into Augie March. I could read the smaller Bellows but the big one just didn't work for me somehow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:23 AM
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Not to proffer unwanted advice (on second thought I'm not sure I have advice to give), but Bianquette (about the same age as Hawaii, maybe a little older?) likes to touch when she's upset. She was extra clingy for a while after kindergarten started, just walking up to the kitchen chair where I was sitting and standing right up next to my arm. She does the chin-digging, too, though in her case I'm convinced it's inherited in the male line. But if you tell her to stop, she can get more upset, and want more physical contact. (I don't think she's assertive enough to do it with other children, and if a toddler screamed in her face, she'd be outta there in a half-second. And she's good about class situations with rules and many other kids. But if she's become very comfortable with a teacher who half-tolerates roughhousing or hugs or whatever, she might grab them too. This happens less often as the opportunities aren't there, and hopefully as most of her teachers won't allow it even a little.) We've made sure we have a rule that if someone wants you to stop touching them, you have to stop immediately. That doesn't prevent the tantrum if the annoying touching (pulling, poking, etc.) is part of an ongoing or brewing tantrum.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:23 AM
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The Big Bellow is odd -- it's not having lost my shit, which expresses itself in loud, but not Big Bellow loud, swearing when it happens. But I'm not bellowing as a coldblooded plan ("I will BELLOW now"), it's a snap reaction, after which I drop back to reasonably calm.

This is mine, too. "JANE!!" then back to normal.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:26 AM
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This is mine, too. "JANE!! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!!" then back to normal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:28 AM
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I've broken out the Big Bellow a few times, but it's real big (...laydeez) and it elicits shocked expressions and tears, maybe even at the neighbors'. So I try not to do that anymore.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:33 AM
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I yelled at someone else's kid on the playground recently. That was perhaps a bit over the line. Hey, it takes a village to get your little shit in line.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:36 AM
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87: everyone else was just talking about yelling, you pervert.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:37 AM
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Conversation from the other night, after S was in a snit and refusing to do homework:

"Tell me what made you so angry."
"You yelled that we were little nightmares."
"No, I yelled that you were acting like little nightmares. There's a difference."
"No there isn't."

In my defense, they were totally acting like little nightmares. But I sucked it up, and she calmed down and did her homework. That's what victory looks like sometimes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:39 AM
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I could read the smaller Bellows... Dangling Man, Seize the Day?

They're almost all big, not to say sprawling. My wife's high-end book club did Augie March a few months ago, and didn't like it. I've been thinking I'll re-read Mr. Sammler's Planet soon.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:41 AM
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88: What was the offense?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:42 AM
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Receiving stolen cars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:49 AM
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What was the offense?

My kid had climbed a stair railing, with one foot on either side, and this kid came up behind him and kicked him in the small of the back. The first time, I said, gently, "Watch out, buddy." Then he did it again, harder, and actually knocked my kid off, and I yelled "Hey!" and got in his face as he tried to get away and said "That's not ok!" Then his parents came and scurried off with him.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:50 AM
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I just try to always parent by the golden rule.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:54 AM
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I always try to parent by the golden ratio.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:56 AM
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I always try to parent by the golden shower.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:57 AM
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I always try to parent by the golden arches.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:59 AM
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I just try to always parent by the golden rule.

Aren't they a little young for bourbon and porn?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:00 PM
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94: Oh, that's perfectly legit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:04 PM
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My kid had climbed a stair railing, with one foot on either side, and this kid came up behind him and kicked him in the small of the back. The first time, I said, gently, "Watch out, buddy." Then he did it again, harder, and actually knocked my kid off

To the wood chipper!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:20 PM
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88: I did that at the Burbank airport and shocked a whole luggage carousel area into complete silence. The fuckin' kid stopped climbing on the bags and his Dad stayed on the cellphone.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:28 PM
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My brother once rode a luggage carousel all the way around to the area behind the rubber curtains. I think he was drunk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:32 PM
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Meditation and mindfulness probably help with all this, but sometimes so does calling in aunt Maryjane, IYKWIMAITYD.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:36 PM
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Hillary Clinton, while you're still unnecessarily presidential, you could at least tell us what name you called your child. Was it "simpering cow"? I could see that one being fun.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:37 PM
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I do, but it took me a second because I have many Aunt Marys.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:37 PM
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I've said both "prattling jackanape" and "irritating twerp" to mine, top those IF YOU DARE.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:38 PM
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106: The variety of strains available these days is really remarkable.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 12:39 PM
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104: Teaching a five year old mindfulness is a big challenge, though.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:07 PM
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109: I'm not even joking when I say it's worthwhile, though.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:14 PM
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It is hard to tell, but the Calabat seems to be an interesting combination of exceedingly independent and very compliant. I think being able to understand commands is new enough that he still thinks it's fun. I haven't had to yell much; I try to reserve Death Mommy Voice of Command for things like not running into the street. So far, he stops.

But man, he will not hold my hand to walk. Rips it out, runs off, falls down, repeat. I am told by my mother that this trait is apparently genetic.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:16 PM
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Heebie, this is probably worthless, because I know exactly nothing about kids Hawaii's age, but: A friend's kids' preschool talks a lot, successfully, about personal space as everyone's enclosing egg. Maybe introduce that idea, along with the rule that you don't get into someone's egg uninvited (shut up), and help Hawaii to see it as a winnable game to figure out how big everyone's egg is (shut uuuuup) in a given situation? Though who knows, maybe this would just feed her anxiety.

When Teapot is in that kind of clinging, burrowing state, it often works to say to him something neutral like "I see that you want to be extra close right now." (Modeling on his daycare teachers, here.) Seems to help both of us—me because sure, sometimes you want to hang on tight, that's fine, and now that I come to think of it, I do have access to additional patience; him because having the need acknowledged seems to free him to tone it down a little.

So here's a good strategy: have my child at his current age. There! All set. Solid commenting, me.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:25 PM
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Oh, I got a lot of traction with "If you want extra love, you need to tell me with your words, not your behavior." That's actually how I would respond to the burrowing: "Are you trying to say that you need extra love?" The counterpart to that, that if you want extra freedoms you get them by acting right rather than promising me that you will, has not yet caught on. But just being able to put words on it helped a ton with all the little kids I've had.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:31 PM
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It's not the cuddling per se, but the slow escalation of antisocial aggressions right in the middle of an otherwise pleasant moment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:34 PM
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Not that Smearcase is reading this thread, but I deliberately didn't say microaggressions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:34 PM
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109: I have never tried it, but there is a psychology professor somewhere doing research on teaching kids mindfulness--somewhere in the upper midwest, either Wisconsin or Minnesota.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:34 PM
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If it works, nobody will be left in Wisconsin or Minnesota.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:38 PM
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114: Yeah, if I understand you, it's not that she's ordinarily overcuddly in the kid-needing-more-love way and that gets annoying, but that she gets deliberately annoying for some reason that's making sense in her six-year-old head but is kind of opaque to you right now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:45 PM
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114: Yeah, I don't mean cuddling that is sweet but that kids who want attention or a response of some sort will poke and prod and be horribly annoying about it. Wanting attention/affection is the underlying need most of the time here, but doesn't mean it would be for Hawaii. (And I hate it so much. I hate having my neck touched and so all any child wants to do is sit on my lap and dig into my legs with heels or elbows and pant all over my neck, preferably while squeezing a hand around it.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:48 PM
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118: right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:50 PM
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(And I hate it so much. I hate having my neck touched and so all any child wants to do is sit on my lap and dig into my legs with heels or elbows and pant all over my neck, preferably while squeezing a hand around it.)

My sister. I mean, this wasn't exactly my complaint but yes. During storytime, the two big kids will be so immersed in the book, sitting on either side of me, absent-mindedly running their lips on a patch of my arm and generally caving in on me, unbearably.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 1:51 PM
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The only useful advice I ever got about parenting was actually indirectly by apo here at Unfogged -- that different kids are different, and that it's easy to be fooled by your experience with your own kids. Basically none of the disciplining techniques that worked on my daughter work on my son.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 2:07 PM
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Heebie, have you tried narrating her actions to her when she's escalating the unpleasant stuff (I'm imagining this especially when she's pestering Ace) - not with judgment, just verbalizing what she's doing and Ace's reaction. I wonder if it might help...


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 2:29 PM
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But honestly this is the thing I fear most about parenting: it's hard, I know that I am not the most patient, and I am not particularly eager to be confronted by my own limitations.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 2:31 PM
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sometimes so does calling in aunt Maryjane

Right now I am all about Fairy Godmother Xanax.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 2:40 PM
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105: I called her a bitch. Specifically, I said, "stop being such a bitch!"


Posted by: Hillary clinton | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 2:50 PM
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126: The fact of calling your child a name is not per se problematic. The gendered nature of the specific insult you chose, though...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 2:57 PM
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Gusty the Elder is generally a pleasant kid but becomes a whiny little shit when displeased, and seems to get grumpier more easily than his brother. With him the thing that works seems to be a very loud, very clear bollocking. When we were in Seattle he spent most of a morning whining, and after multiple reasoned requests to STFU we ended up back at the apartment. I picked him up and dropped him onto the bed (so no damage) and gave him a solid telling off. He was golden for the rest of the day.

Gusty the Younger is a cheeky little sod and gets away with far more than his older brother (which is bad). He's also more stubborn and just growing out of the autistic toddler stage (where routines must be followed etc.) I'm not sure how best to handle him. Generally I let a lot of stuff slide, probably things his brother wouldn't get away with, but try to strictly enforce a few things.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:06 PM
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127: If you put "whiny little" in front, it ceases to be gendered.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:25 PM
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Right now I am all about Fairy Godmother Xanax.

Wacky cousin Psilocybin is more fun, but basically incompatible with responsible parenting.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:31 PM
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It isn't uncommon in court for judges to order that the parents shouldn't drink alcohol when they have the children with them.

I have argued privately that such a ban is dangerous to children.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:35 PM
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I don't know if it is uncommon or not. I had a cousin who asked for such a rule on her ex after he got a DUI with the kids in the car.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:36 PM
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The kids were too young to drive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:37 PM
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131: I was just telling another commenter off-blog that, whatever my other failings as a parent, I thought I had successfully modeled consuming large quantities of alcohol without becoming belligerent or engaging in any embarrassing or dangerous behavior.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:38 PM
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134:
I almost spit my wine out all over my children when I read that comment.

ok, I kid. I believe in importance of modeling and have argued that it court.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:40 PM
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||

I just went to google news, to see if there was any election news, and saw this horrifying story which is both relevant to the thread, and a good example of the way in which national news will overplay notable, but unusual, and non-representative stories.

Relatives said the once-stable mother suffered a mental collapse in the face of incredible challenges: caring for a non-verbal and autistic child, a health crisis that left her husband fighting for his life, and the death of her father.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:45 PM
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I just finally read the linked article. I don't know if I should feel I'm a terrible mother because I snapped at my five year old to get her boots off when we both were miserable because it was 35 degrees and windy and raining and we were very late, when every other mother in the place seemed perfectly pleasant, or whether I should consider that my daughter had just previously told me, no doubt due to said miserableness, that she was literally physically incapable of taking off her boots, with or without help.

I thought waiting to have children until I was older made me more patient than I would have otherwise been, until, I think, this year.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 3:56 PM
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136:

Totally understandable. Related, Anna Quindlen's essay "Playing God on No Sleep."

When I read those stories, I feel more like those people than I feel unlike them.

Respite care and having another parent or grandparents is critical.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 4:07 PM
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I lose the wherewithal to do such things if I'm overtired or super pregnant.

New mouse over


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 4:08 PM
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My brother once rode a luggage carousel all the way around to the area behind the rubber curtains. I think he was drunk.

Kids, huh?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 4:33 PM
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136: it just sucks that she couldn't get treatment and respite before that happened. I feel like she should get a diminished capacity/ not guilty by reason of insanity (commitment to a secure psych facility). Horrible but not deserving of life in prison. There was a woman in Texas in the late 90's whose husband isolated her with weird religious shit who killed her two kids.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 4:57 PM
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It's like they've realized that for all she's going to stomp around like an angry ape, she's not actually going to do anything to seriously hurt them.

Well yeah. That's what calisthenics are for. Seriously, am I the only one who makes his kids do burpees and stuff as a punishment?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 6:41 PM
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142.last: we don't punish that way, but when they're really wound up, yes. Burpees, pushups, situps. Yes I know about sit-ups, but they're sort of uncoordinated children.


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 6:46 PM
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143: Flutter kicks!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 6:48 PM
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When the child busts through the 6' tall barrier suddenly sitting "on" your lap turns into just sitting on you.

I've not much to add to any of the good advice/honest observations here, except that from a very young age I found it very important with my son to apologize when I lost it. Not an abject apology, but an acknowledgment that I'd not met our mutual expectations of how to treat each other. With my particular kid this has worked really surprisingly well, as he learned himself to recognize when he'd not behaved as he would have wished, and will also apologize. Obviously, there is a huge variation in age appropriateness and awareness, but we have managed to build a mutual three-way awareness amongst us of what is desirable. When we don't meet that standard, we sincerely apologize to each other, and then move on. I know it sounds completely barmy, but with this kid it works.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:03 PM
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Doesn't sound barmy, I do that too. Not if I feel I was angry for a good reason, but if I was being a dick. If there was some other reason - tired, worried, already annoyed with a different child - I'll explain that (not as an excuse, just to help them understand - and hopefully understand themselves in the future I suppose).


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-14 11:40 PM
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Yeah, definitely. I find life is much easier if I'm not trying to keep up face as infallible -- if I'm being a jerk or I'm just in a mood I try to acknowledge it and apologize as appropriate.

I think it kind of helps with maintaining authority, as well as being a civilized way to behave; the fact that I get to tell them what to do has never been contingent on my being perfect, so cracks in the armor aren't really a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-14 9:43 AM
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That strikes me as the kind of thing that everyone here would surely do. It's easy to recognize when you've lost it with your kid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-14 9:44 AM
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128: ...gets away with far more than his older brother (which is bad)

Damn straight!


Posted by: Opinionated Oldest Children Everywhere | Link to this comment | 11- 6-14 6:10 AM
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In fact, my stock answer to people asking "how do you do it?!" is to quote Mary Poppins, "A British bank is run with precision. A British home requires nothing less."

Talk about lyrics that haven't aged well. A home run with the same precision as the average British bank would probably be on the evening news above a chyron headline like "SOCIAL WORKERS TAKE SCREAMING KIDS FROM 'HELL HOUSE'" or "NEGLECT CASE: PARENTS WERE 'SADISTIC, DRUNK', COURT HEARS".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-14 7:04 AM
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"Children Lost to Iceland, Not Recoverable."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 6-14 7:07 AM
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