To wash? Or to wear?

Wornclotheschair

A little while back, my sister and her husband were over for dinner and lightheartedly got into a dispute about dirty clothing.  My sister was fussing that clothes belong in one of three places–the drawer, the closet or the hamper for washing.  But my brother in law disagreed.  He felt that the arm of the chair, the side of the footboard or gently placed on the floor by the bed were acceptable places as well and should be added to her list.

My sister looked to me for support–because in most cases (an estimated 9.99997 times out of ten) I agree with her–hands down.  But to her bewilderment and my husband’s excitement, I agreed with my brother in law.  (Who has been and still remains one of my 6 arch nemeses)

Here’s the logic behind it.  Some clothes just aren’t dirty enough to be put in the hamper, but not clean enough to be put back where they belong.  Short and simple.  So where do they go?  To one of the aforementioned areas.

I don’t know of which opinion you find yourself on the matter, but let me give a detailed scenario to explain myself.

Say you wake up one fine sunny day and want to sit out on your patio.  You wash, pick out a shirt and pants from your drawer or closet and go have breakfast outside.  You read the paper, check email, play games on your phone or enjoy the family. After this, you perhaps help your little one build a fort or order a few household items online.  You then decide you want to catch up on  a few shows that you DVR’d.  So you sit on the couch to create more space on your cable box and enjoy three episodes of Criminal Minds  (12 minutes missed because you dozed off) and maybe a light lunch until you’re reminded that you have to get up and get ready for your dinner plans that evening.

And here’s the clincher–what do you do with the clothes you just had on?   You perhaps recall perspiring ever so lightly due to the beautiful heat from the sun earlier.  But no sweat glands could call themselves completely expressed from it.  And you’ve done nothing but sat and watched TV for two hours with an occasional long stare out the window.

Whereas the clothes are no longer the best choice for say–a lunch date with colleagues–they are still perfect for another day of loafing around.  Or perhaps a quick run to the store.  You could use them to cut the grass or wash the car tomorrow. (Which would for sure merit hamper status) But you also have to keep in mind that you had two small meals in it.  No stains, but could the shirt imperceptibly smell like that garlic vinaigrette that was on your little salad?  Maybe?  Maybe not.  But you feel as though you cannot put these items back in the closet with  freshly washed items.  So?  Where…Do…They…Go…?

Exactly!!  The floor, the footboard or the arm of the chair.

We discussed this for about 45 minutes over assorted grilled cuisine because there was nothing we could say to get my sister to understand our sentiments nor to agree with our arguments.

I don’t know if I’ve persuaded you or not, but it was 3 to 1 that night; so it could be safe to assume that more of you have clothes lain around your rooms (as do I) than not.:-)

Disciplinary Guru

I have a 6-year-old kid.  And kids do crazy things that get themselves into trouble.  But I find that I am now having a hard time coming up with proper and effective ways to discipline my daughter when she does something I do not favor.

Let me give you an example.  My daughter recently picked up the habit of holding spit bubbles in her mouth and rolling them around with her tongue.  Well, I find this nasty.  Here I am trying to talk with her and she’s not able to answer me because she has to swallow the tablespoon of spit she has let collect.  Or I look around the room and lovingly gaze at the profile of my daughter (if you knew me, you would immediately tag this for the exaggeration that it is) before she turns toward me and reveals the spasmodic seizure bubbles she’s harboring in her mouth!  Again, it’s just nasty.

So I have tired myself of gently chiding her about it, which then moved to yelling at her about it, which graduated to threats of doing something about it, until I had to come up with some form of discipline.  Well, what the heck kind of discipline is a parent to dish out for a spit-hoarder?  What kind of punishment fits that crime?!  I threatened the discipline so of course I had to follow through with it and create one.  But when it came time to, I lacked all imagination.

In talking with friends, I have found that I am not the only person finding stress in this area.  One friend has three boys, and says she will make them do exercises as a form of discipline.  Didn’t clean the kitchen? 50 push-ups.  Forgot to take out the trash? 15 suicides in the backyard and so on.  I actually like this idea.  But call me a feminist (believe me, I am not) because I felt like this was great–but more so for boys.  Does that make sense?  No.  Because my daughter would actually hate to do any form of exercise. It would probably be the perfect route to take.  But then I would have to stand there and watch her do it all.  To ensure she actually finishes the allotted chore.  So, whereas I have not taken this off the table of ideas, I still have not implemented it into my repertoire.  (Yes, I’m lazy.)

I have another friend who takes away all electronics from her girls and sends them to their room.  This worked until she found them cuddled up reading books to each other and enjoying themselves.  Under normal circumstances, this would be a parent’s dream–bickering children now playing in harmony.  But not when you are trying to teach a lesson.  So she next had to say no to books–including coloring books.  She reminded them that this forced quiet time was to be used to reflect on ways to be better and all that kind of parental garbage talk that we do.  Well, she now finds them in their rooms fast asleep!  Maybe they are dreaming of their abhorrent acts and of ways to make it up to their parents upon awakening.  Though I strongly doubt it!  So are they really learning any lessons from this discipline?  Or do we just get to enjoy some quiet time away from them?  Which in itself is a highlight.

I have sent my kid to her room on numerous occasions.  But I am not lucky enough to find her asleep.  She sits on her bed with her door open and tries to hold conversations with us as we walk by.  She feigns sudden interest in anything she can think of to engage us in some kind of banter.  Even if we make her close the door, she will talk through the crack.  (Think of Elsa and Anna in the scene from Frozen)  So it ends up being more annoying than satisfying at teaching a lesson.

Well, back to this spit habit.  I had to come up with something the other day to fulfill my threat of discipline.  I was in the moment and felt true pressure on what to choose.  My husband wasn’t home so he couldn’t help me.  I was on my own.  I quickly tried to think back on anything I was forced to do when in trouble in my youth.  As the rolodex flipped through my mind, it stopped on a weird page just as a flash of The Simpson’s title sequence with Bart writing on the chalk board flickered in my mind.  So that is what I made her do.  Write “I will not play with spit” 10 times every time I catch her doing it.

Yes, my husband and sister laughed at me when I told them this.  As you quite possibly are doing as well.  But it was all I could come up with at the time!  So far, she has had to write it 50 times and has 10 in queue as you read. Just this morning she had to write it 20 times before she could watch tv or play with her tablet or even think of putting Barbie in the convertible mini-coop.

Do I think this punishment fits the crime?  No.  But as I asked before–what punishment would?  Do I think this will be effective?  I don’t know.  The first time she had to do it, she was actually proud of her work!  She asked if we could keep it.  I’m not sure, but I think she was under the guise that it should be framed!!  However, I caught her rolling spit a few minutes ago and when she saw me looking, she quickly swallowed it and said something to the effect that she “had a tickle in her throat and wasn’t playing with spit, just trying to clear her throat”.  All of this was said without me saying one word.  So maybe, just maybe, it’s working.

We parents have no idea what we are doing.  Who knew that we would be trying to concoct methods of punishment for eating toe jam or taping boogers to the wall?  Or that our kids would be in the best physical shape of all their classmates without playing even one school sport because they are doing pull ups from not finishing their homework?

I for one am not afraid to admit I have no idea what I am doing as a parent.  But I am open to suggestions.  I’d love to hear how you are keeping your kids in line and ensuring obedience… 🙂

My daughter's writing assignment
My daughter’s writing assignment

Lessons From Little Ones

I have mentioned that I have a three-year old.  And I have also mentioned some of the challenges she imposes me with.  So why not talk some more?

My daughter engages in a list of things that upset me daily.  From rubbing Vaseline all over her face and hair to crushing my toes with her “princess heels” as she walks around the house.  Or wiping her hands on her pretty dress at dinner rather than on the napkin she just asked for 30 seconds ago.  There’s a ton more but I’m sure you get the idea.  Well, right now, I am torn as to how I should feel when she does something like, say, pour water all over the counter and floor for no apparent reason or spoons soup out of her bowl and places it under the placemat at the dinner table and proceeds to smash it into the table.  Once I realize what she’s done, she immediately shouts out an: “I’m sorry” along with the appropriate level of ‘sad face’ to fit the crime.  Although these are the most insincere apologies, they are still well-timed and what I have been training her to say after doing something wrong.  The thing is, after one of her befitting apologies, she promptly goes into singing, talking to her dolls or going so far as to tell me how much she loves me! All thought of her recent wrongdoing seem to be erased from her memory and she goes on like it never happened!  Doesn’t she realize I just yelled at her and that my blood pressure has gone up at least two systolic decimals and that I’m still angry with her?  I recognize that this could be a ploy on her part to deflect my thoughts from deciding to punish her any further than I already have.  But nonetheless, here lies my dilemma.  The kid has a point–neither of us should be reflecting on the wrong that was just done.  We should be moving past it and getting on with our lives. But I don’t want to!!

Even though she is displaying the best attitude to have toward any negative situation, that’s not how it all usually goes is it?  When someone offends us or hurts us in any way, we want them to know what they’ve done, realize how it has affected us and to feel some kind of anguish for it.  We want them to stand there and listen to us explain how hurt we are and why.  Perhaps allow us to delve into soliloquy to truly define the torment and pain they just caused.  Then we want them to prostrate themselves at our feet and plead for our mercy. Stress their ignorance to the sensitivity of our emotions and request a plan for how they can do better–no, be better–in the future.  After my daughter engages in one of her many transgressions, I want her to carry a ‘look of shame’ for the rest of the afternoon.  Bow her head in humiliation any time I walk pass her to show deep remorse for the wrong she has committed.  Talk to her dolls about her well-developed plans to be the ideal adolescent for years to come.

But none of that is happening with a toddler, let me tell you.  She doesn’t care about the infraction 10 seconds after it occurs.  So it is now up to me to let it go myself. I need to remember there is no use crying over spilled milk.  Literally. (or juice or soda or oatmeal or ice cream)  I have to stop looking for more from her and just accept her apology. However contrived I think it may be.

I’m hoping I can get better with it in time because right now, I’m still battling with it all.  But I already see how following the example of my little hellion will be a good trait for me to attain.  It’ll help me to be more patient.  More forgiving.  Less stressed and angry.   It’ll enhance what we have together as well as benefit me and all of my relationships. What a good little lesson this little booger is teaching.

So if you catch me fussing at her for grabbing onto clothes as we walk by with our cart, nearly toppling over the rack…just know that I’m really going to try to be done with it after she apologizes.  And not fester with anger as I pick up all the items that have fallen to the floor.

“Do you need to go potty?”

I am beginning to fear my conversation with others.

I have a little one at home and there is no end to the training that must be done with her daily. The reminders to say “please” and “thank you.” Or the stern voice I use to show her that I mean business. However, I am finding that these ‘toddler talks’ are starting to become the normal template of my conversations. With adults!

 
I have caught myself on numerous occasions, saying something marginally inappropriate to family members,  friends, and even co-workers. Asking folks about going potty or if they need tissue for boogies.  Once, after handing my patient her shoes and eye glasses after her procedure, I found myself prodding her with a “What do you say…?” when she didn’t say thank you! And although that little old lady was in fact rude for not thanking me, it was so not proper for me to scold her!

I have the habit of asking my daughter why she did a certain thing that was perhaps out of line.  To get her to reason things out for herself and see the folly of her decision.  This too has become my mode of communication with others.  Asking “was that a nice thing to do?” or “will that make me happy?”.  And finding myself having to laugh things off as a joke once I realize what I’ve just said.

I have been mortified with myself at snapping my fingers to get someone’s attention.  Something I do to my daughter when she’s too distracted and not paying me attention. I find myself using “the voice” with my husband when we are in the middle of a tiff or disagreement.  You know how men don’t listen very well–they always want to fix things so fast that they’re not really hearing the diagnostics of the problem, right?  Well, my husband is no different.  I once caught myself sternly telling him: “listen to my words!”.  This is something I tell the kid when she’s not focusing on what I’m telling her to do and continues to do what she thinks is best.  Well, even though this applies to my husband trying to be Mr. Quick Fix, I’m sure it’s not the best form of communication for marriage mates.

I mean no harm with any of this.  But it is really hard to switch out of Mother Mode when I’m talking with others.  So far this hasn’t gotten me into too much trouble but I doubt my luck will last indefinitely.  The day is going to come when someone won’t be so understanding of my days spent coaching a little one.  So let me apologize now if I do this when talking with you.  But if you say “please”, wash your hands after you potty and put your toys away, we shouldn’t have any issues.  😉