Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 6 and Done :)

The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! The first Grand Slam of 2014 is here! Tennis in the morning. Tennis after work. Tennis in the evening. Tennis at night.

And everyone wonders why I don’t get any real writing done. (“Yeh,” say the Aussies).

Yes, I’m moving on. Maybe a calming chamomile tea is in order. (Nah. Hate tea. Coffee’s my brew.) Hope everyone is well, this second full week of the New Year.

Can I possibly wrap up this series? I suppose I should have be done, but one incident with Older Son (OS) stands out too much to not share. And it’s so interesting how several seemingly unrelated events came together to help Hubby and me with our responses to the situation.

OS turned 17 this past November. In my state, that means a driver’s license, which he got December 11, 2013.

That means OS has had a driver’s permit since April. Sometime before June he came across a used car for sale, pretty much what he wanted, and a great deal for him. Hubby and I had our misgivings, but we allowed him to use a portion of his savings to buy it.

It got parked at a friend’s house, pronto, not to be registered or insured until he got the DL.

On a mid-June weekend this past summer, Hubby and I were supposed to go to our PA cottage. A dear friend had passed away and we’d hoped to attend the funeral, which was in the vicinity. OS was scheduled to work and Younger Son (YS) is in the ‘bored’ stage in PA (no internet connection for the X-box in the woods).

Because putting together arrangements for a responsible adult to be available to a 14- and 16- year-old was turning out to be more tedious than we figured it should have been, Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to stay home. Neither of us felt all that comfortable leaving the kids home while we were three hours away. And we’d visited my friend twice during her bout with cancer, so I felt better knowing I’d connected with her before she exited this life.

So, there we were Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Kids are both out and Hubby decides to step out—maybe run to the deli or something along those lines.

He came home livid.

He’s spotted OS driving his should-have-been-parked-car, with his girlfriend (GF) in the passenger seat.

OS came in a few minutes later, pleading his case for the necessity of the run.

Hubby grounded him on the spot, including not allowing him to attend a rather formal birthday party he and GF were due at in less than two hours.

Not sure I agreed with Hubby’s choice of handling the situation—he was pretty mad—and the party, as far as I could see, had nothing to do with the transgression. I spoke to Hubby privately (so that OS wasn’t aware of the conflict of opinions Hubby and I had), but supported his decision since it had already been made, and he felt very strongly about not changing it. He believed strong action that showed OS the severity of his transgression was necessary. I did agree with the rationale, but might have chosen a more related form of discipline (i.e., revoked even permit-driving privileges for x-amount of time, or something along those lines).

Aside: GF was kind enough not to attend the party w/o OS.

So, that’s how Saturday, June 15th went. OS probably said something to me here and there, but I reminded him (nicely) that he’d made a choice, got caught and now had to deal with the consequences of his action.

The next morning we realized there was some emergency vehicle activity going on a few blocks from our house. Being the mind-our-own-business folks we usually are, Hubby walked down to scope out the action then texted OS and GF to come down. They took off on their skateboards.

A FIFTEEN-year-old boy had taken his mother’s SUV—she had gone to church—piled in at least three friends and lost control making a turn. He ploughed headlights first into an electrical pole. (Don’t ask how the force at the bottom toppled the top third of the pole, knocking it onto a power line and taking out the electricity to one or more houses on that street.)

OS hung out, and chatted for a while with the tow truck guy, who talked about the law-end of what this kid and his family would be dealing with in the not-so-far-future. And that kid won’t be seeing a driver’s license anytime near his 17th birthday. (He kind of seriously messed up that privilege.)

So what’s my point? Hubby and I could have ranted and raved at OS for making the impulsive choice he did. We didn’t. In agreement or not, we stood united in doling out consequences. (We are lucky. OS takes his lumps like a man (?). YS shows a much more dramatic side, but eventually does his time—often the next day, once he’s calmed down.)

I’m getting at this: LIFE stepped in and demonstrated a real-life example of what could happen when a kid takes a vehicle, especially if said kid is not terribly skilled/experienced at handling it. Sans getting preachy, we used that illustration to point out how flippin’ lucky OS was that his actions the day before cost him a party and little else.

And how crazy was it that Hubby and I stayed home and Hubby just happened to be on the same road at the same time OS had taken out his car? Coincidence? I’m not so sure…

Anyone out there with similar experiences to share? Please do! How did you handle it? Would you have grounded OS from the party? If not, what consequences might you have imposed? Did life show up with a lesson better than anyone you could have given?

Have a great day, folks,

Joanna

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 4–Doing What You Have to Do)

Happy Hump Day folks! Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. Not sure I can claim that, but at least I felt very productive. Think I haven’t slowed down yet, and definitely feeling the effects of that. So glad it’s not too much longer to the next weekend. 🙂

Promise to try and wrap this up series soon, people! Geez! I thought I would be sharing a simple incident based on a conversation with friends. As in my previous series related to parenting (Discipline Vs. Control), one post took on a life and direction of its own. (Wish some of my characters would do the same! :()

In case you missed them and are looking to catch up, here are links to the preceding posts, one, two and three.

Today’s thought: doing what I had to do as a parent without worrying about what someone else might think of my choices.

Some background points to help set the tone:

1. A kid has to know a parent means business.

2. A parent who means business doesn’t necessarily have to force the issue, nor does that parent have to be mean or angry to show s/he is serious about what s/he is expecting from a child.

3. Bullying takes on many forms. We who are trying to ‘teach our children to do the right thing’ by ‘making’ them do what we say might have to watch going over a fine line. (Trust me, I’ve gone over it TOO many times. Younger kids—and those older ones who just love pushing buttons will tip you over that line themselves.)

4. And unless what a parent is doing is abusive, emotionally and/or physically, a parent should just toss what others think out the nearest window. (Just sayin’.)

Case in point: When Older Son was five years old and in preschool, he tended to dawdle when it came time to get dressed. Being the model parent I was, I remember doing my fair share of yelling one morning. I needed to get Younger Son to nursery school, Older Son to school and me to work. (Luckily, I worked in the same building where Older Son attended preschool.)

The next day, I kept him home. He wasn’t feeling well.

Day after that, he was well enough to return to school. He so took his time not getting ready. I decided I would not shout or make a scene.

Time came to leave the house. Older Son was pretty much taken aback when I handed him his shoes. I very calmly told him we had to go. When he said something about not being dressed, I told him we had no time. He’d used his time playing rather than getting ready. (Not sure how he got his shoes over his footie PJs, but he did. And I’m lucky. He was never much of a tantrum-throwing child. Now that Younger Son kid…let’s not go there.)

So we dropped off Younger Son, which mean Older Son had to walk into the nursery school in his PJs. When he mentioned something about PJ’s and school, I reiterated that he hadn’t gotten dressed when he had the time.

Once we got to school, I took him to the nurse. Told my boy the nurse needed to see him since he’d been sick the day prior. (Yes, I fibbed. Judge me if you please, but there was a much greater cause at stake.)

In the nurse’s office, I handed Dawdle Boy a set of clothing I’d bagged on the sly. I told him any future episodes would not come with a back-up outfit. He’d be in PJs for the day.

I kid you not, friends. From that day forward, I have never, ever had a problem with that boy not being dressed for school. Chances are, I brought his clothes partly b/c I might have felt embarrassed having him show in pajamas, and I certainly didn’t want him to feel that way, so I came up with a compromise. Luckily, it worked.

I’m fairly friendly with a dad whose four-year old daughter was giving him a run for his money. On many occasions, this 6’4″ European-born man whose daughter reached just past his knee would have him complaining about how she wouldn’t get dressed; at school we’d see that manifested in how late he’d bring her in every day. (Mind you, there are other family circumstances that impact her behavior to this day, I’m sure. Our conversations, however, showed me he wasn’t willing to stand up to her behavior.)

One day last school year, I shared Older Son’s PJ story. The man’s jaw dropped. He seemed horror-struck.

That dad  was most likely worried about what someone else would think if his daughter showed in PJs.

Did I abuse my son in any way? He was warm and covered appropriately for the season. I didn’t yell or force him to do anything.

I did, however, show him I meant business.

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time. Getting past myself when I impose a limit, or consequence. Sometimes that’s way harder than dealing with what others think.

So how have you dealt with some of the stuff your cherubs–no matter the age–dish out? What was the result and how effective did you find how you handled a particular situation in the longer run?

Thanks so much, readers, followers and friends. Have a great week! No stressing re: upcoming holidays allowed–somehow, it all gets done!

Joanna

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right?–Part 2

Hope everyone had a great week and weekend. Sorry for last week’s posting snafu. Funny. I made a mental note to change the date on the ‘inspired some more’ write-up, but forgot to check the note, I guess. 😉

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”

That’s where I left off last post. If you missed it, you might want to check it out. (Pinky swear: it ain’t all that long, and lays the groundwork for this one.)

As I stated previously, my coworker’s question really struck me, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Those of you who have been hanging around the blog for a while might remember a series of posts I did about Discipline vs. Control. (I’ve linked you to the first. Feel free to take it from there, for a total of five essays on the topic, and maybe a bit more insight into groundwork laid.) And before I go any further, please note I’m no magician who turned my guys into pretty awesome young-men-in-the-making. Yes, Hubby and I work hard constantly, but I also believe we are lucky, too. (Some folks do everything to the best of their ability and still run into problems. And that’s assuming there aren’t special needs or other issues involved.) 

Okay, back to business.

Not that Hubby didn’t help out before, but since he took on the role of stay-at-home-dad, he’s taken on many of the responsibilities involved in keeping a house running. He often refers to the house as “his job”. So, he models a lot of the cleaning behaviors and consideration. (These are important components, folks.  Akin to the subtext in a story: what’s not written but inherent and working on your psyche as you read.)

We usually all pitch in after dinner. On many occasions though, when Hubby knows I still have paperwork to do, or errands to run after work, he’ll offer to clean up on his own. (Most of the time, I try to move a little faster and make sure to employ everyone present. If every person does a small part of the bigger job, we all get done more quickly, and one person isn’t stuck with all the work, right?)

And this is a bit of an aside, but it ties in: years ago a friend and I were chatting. Something came up about her husband offering to “help” her do something home or kid related. My friend accepted his offer. She also took the time to point out that whatever had to be done was their responsibility—not hers alone with him jumping in because he thought it was kind, his duty or whatever other reason spurred him on to offer his time and efforts.

Back to subtext: this was a shift in perspective for me! Being a doer, I tend to lead and ask others to take on parts of the job. I quickly got the concept and passed it on to Hubby. Little by little, could it be the sons are getting this too? (Interesting too, how on the same day I write this, older son just happened to start filling the dishwasher while he, his dad and I were hanging out in the kitchen, discussing how his friend’s mom seems to create at least part of the conflict she complains about re: her son. It was like my guy was on auto-pilot, chatting and cleaning. More thoughts on this in a later post.)

Allow me one more take on this before I get back to the point please: When my full-timers were small and my part-timers (a.k.a., stepsons) were still children and spent time here regularly (i.e., weekends, overnighters, etc), the bulk of my time outside the day job—which never lacked for work to bring home—was taken up with two to five boys at any given time and paperwork when I wasn’t attending to a kid.

One day, Hubby got a little annoyed with this. He told me he felt as he was “at the bottom of the totem pole.”

I’m sure he got a look for that one. “Actually,” I told him, “I’m at the bottom. You’re probably the next step up. However, since we’re supposed to be equal in this relationship and family situation, I’m thinking you’re belong at bottom next to me.” (Chances are, Hubby wasn’t too thrilled with me at that moment.)

And all this, IMHO, brings me back to a single word: RESPONSIBILITY. Perhaps that is the “key” to the “foundation” Hubby and I may have laid “something like this to happen,” as my coworker put it.

We’ll talk about this more next week.

Have a great one, folks. And if you found this content share-worthy, would you kindly take a sec and do so?

As always, I thank you!

Joanna

Could We Have Done Something Right?!

Hi all–hope you had a great week and weekend. I’m actually trying to fathom what a break from tennis will be like. The men’s year-end final wraps up tonight. No tournaments until mid-December. Now how will I fill my ‘spare’ time for the next four weeks, lol?

“You realize we’re both hating you right about now,” said a new coworker, a few weeks ago. She, myself and a student’s assistant were discussing kids and getting them to do their chores without it being a struggle.

I’d happened onto their discussion, just in time to hear the assistant saying she was tired of “paying” her kids before their chores were done, then having to argue about it.

Interestingly enough, this conversation was taking place a few days after hubby and I decided to leave the dinner dishes and go hit tennis balls before dark. Younger Son (who is a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday) had cleared the dishes, but there were still pots to be washed, the counter to be wiped down…you know.

Aside: This Italian was raised to NEVER do the next thing—God forbid, something fun, lol—until the house is clean. Somehow, hubby got infected with this disease and looked at me like, You want to go now? Leave this mess? (I assured him it would be there when we got back.)

Well, hubby and I took off, had some fun and headed back home. (I happened to have an awesome day on the court–for me, anyway. Just sayin’.) It was still just light enough for a walk, so I opted to take a short one before it got any darker. “Oh sure. Leave me with the kitchen clean-up,” hubby grumped. (But not terribly.)

“I don’t know why we own Younger Son,” I answered. “There’s no reason we couldn’t have asked him to do it.”

Lo and behold, we entered a FULLY CLEANED KITCHEN. It was like the Cleaning Fairy had dropped in for a visit.

(This is pretty much the point where my co-worker expressed hate. And while I was mentioning it to someone else a day later—hey, I’m still every bit as amazed as the day it happened—another coworker overheard. She did the slow head turn, eyes wide and asked, “What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”)

BTW last night, Younger Son did something similar—washed the few dishes that were in the sink without being asked.

And a few weeks ago, when I picked up my mom from the hospital, and it was 10:30 PM, and I hadn’t made it to cleaning the kitchen b/c hubby was away, and I was tied up helping my mom, I walked into the kitchen while Older Son (who is pushing the ripe age of 17) was doing what had to be done, without anyone asking.

And even this past week, when Younger Son had an orthodontist appointment at 6:30 PM—don’t ask why anyone would schedule that time when after school is so much more convenient at my house—and hubby wasn’t home, and both boys and I were scrambling to leave the kitchen clean before taking off, Older Son casually said, “You guys go. I’ll finish this.”

Mother does the glance askance at Older Son. Huh? (This is the same kid that would step out of his shoes in the middle of the doorway and keep walking. At least he slips out of them to the side of a step these days, with one shoe pointing outward every time, which is pretty much how the kid walks, and still proof that he literally steps out of his shoes, lol.)

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?

She really got me thinking. Next time, I’ll share some of the thoughts her question provoked.

Your turn: if you have kids, have they left you flumgubbered enough to wonder what YOU might have done right? Take a minute and tell us about it, please!

Thanks and have a great week,

Joanna

 

Discipline V. Control (Part 5): Regrouping

How to Regroup When You’ve Totally Lost It with your Kids (Or How to Start Your Day Over)

Welcome back, you marathoners! We are in the sprint toward the finish line! Congrats (and thanks) for having hung in with me this far: You are awesome!

We’ve spent the last few posts talking about discipline, control and the opportunity to learn. (If you missed them, click here for the first, second, third AND fourth—and don’t forget to come back!)

Okay, parents, or anyone who works with kids on a regular basis. We’ve all lost our cool and said or done something regrettable, yes? Raise your hand if this applies. Come on, no one will know but you and your screen—and remember that confession is good for the soul!)

I’m sure I’ve lost my cool and composure in numbers approaching the triple digits. Comes with parenting territory, a place I’ve lived for about twenty years now. (My stepsons were eight, four and six when I met my honey, and they were regulars at my house for the first five or six years we were married. They then moved with their mom and her husband, but by then I had two full-time kids of my own.)

This incident took place with my full-timers, on a day off from school for all of us when they were grammar-school age. I wanted to take them out to breakfast. All I’d asked is that they make their beds (i.e., pull one measly comforter neatly in place onto their beds) and get dressed.

Well, boys will be boys (clichés are clichés for a reason, folks) and mine did…nothing…related to what I asked. After my fifth (?) or so time of repeating the direction, I lost my temper. Big. Time. Said things I’m fortunate memory loss has washed away (can I blame hormones?) but wouldn’t dare repeat if I did remember them. (In other words, when I couldn’t control the situation I got MAD.)

Rather than beat them senseless, I left their room and went downstairs. Most likely, I cried and wondered how in the world I’d undo my behavior (in essence, a tantrum—yep, grownups have them too). Luckily, I remembered an invaluable quote: Whenever I choose, I can ‘start my day over any time.’

As I stated in my previous post, don’t ask me where I get this stuff. For inexplicable reasons, I got three erasers out of the pencil drawer. I went upstairs and handed each of the guys one of them. I then told them that Mommy had behaved badly and that a lot of ‘bad behavior’ had taken place in their room and that we were going to erase all the bad behavior away.

Well, we did just that–air erased all that ‘bad behavior’ away. I’ll be darned, that insane little idea changed the mood for the day. The boys got their acts together—as did I—and we had a great breakfast and a good day.

Have you lost it as a parent? If so, what did you do to ‘turn it around,’ as my hubby likes to say? What were the results?

Thanks so much, folks, for indulging me during this mini-series. Amazing how three simple words (the original nugget for one post, Discipline or Control) took on dimensions all its own. Please note too, that children with severe behavior problems might have underlying issues going on. Talking with professionals who deal with kids on a regular basis can be very helpful. If you’re struggling, get in touch with a teacher, pediatrician, psychologist, related service provider (i.e., physical, occupational or speech therapist) or behaviorist. Read parent forums and use information there as a springboard to give you an idea of what your child’s need might be. Remember that none of that information is gospel and should be used only as a guideline for further action that might be necessary.

Finally, look at your own motives and your own behavior. IMHO, it’s not about what I want. It’s about guiding my kids to be the best adults they can be by providing them an opportunity to learn via discipline.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter and/or any of the share buttons below? (Feel free to post share links at any site not represented here you feel might benefit from the content as well.) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Have a great day,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control (Part 4): An Opportunity to Learn

Happy Tuesday! To those of you who returning for more of this series, I do thank you. For those just tuning in, here are links to parts one, two and three–in case you want to catch up!

One more illustration on discipline, control and the idea of giving a kid the opportunity to learn, then I promise I’ll let this subject go—after one more post. (If y’all want to deal in it more, feel free to let me know in the comments, via email or on Facebook.)

This example is fresh in my mind, as it took place the week I was getting together this monster of a post, lol. My younger guy—the thirteen year-old I’m giving up for Lent—can be a little inflexible in his thinking and difficult to redirect once he has an idea in his head. I can also tell you, he’s typically not nice when he doesn’t get his way.

Like his mother, he likes order and visually pleasing spaces. One evening, he wanted to hang a curtain in the doorway between the laundry room and the semi-finished area of the basement where he hangs out to play video games. I hung the brackets for a rod there about 8:30PM and gave him an idea of how to thread the curtain onto a rod. (He got one from my bedroom closet about an hour later.)

I’d just sat down  to check email (circa 10PM) when he started calling for help with the curtain rod, which he didn’t know how to get onto the brackets. Long story short, he started throwing a typical fit when I told him I’d help him the next day. Rather than react—a.k.a. yell (and please don’t ask me where I get this stuff)—I told him he was putting me in the position of being a ‘bad parent’ if I went down to help him when he was behaving in such a manner. He blustered some more then all got quiet downstairs. Next thing I know, he came up, gave me a hug and said, “I figured it out.” (Maybe I’ll give him up for only part of Lent.)

See? This post is even shorter. (I think. ;)) Back to your experiences. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?

Next time, I’ll take this one step further: regrouping and starting your day over after you’ve really lost it with your kids–probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do.

Okay, my new mantra of a request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? (Any others you like that I may not be represented here works as well!) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Mega-thanks!

Have an awesome day,

Joanna