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Saturday, August 18, 2007

When O was a baby, I was an (almost) perfect parent. Ask my Grandmother, who'll back me up (PSA: If you have access, your children's Great Grandparents are the best. They not only think your kids are perfect, they think you are, too! Your own parents? Not so much.) I had all sorts of lofty aspirations. I planned to use my (still unused) Masters degree in Social Work to negotiate with my child, using my (well thought out and modulated) words, always. Eh.

I changed my mind early on and decided that occasionally yelling at kids is good for them. My husband grew up in a household where the family myth was that no one ever got angry. Which of course they did. A lot. When my husband and I went to a marriage counselor after the birth of our second child (wipe that smirk off your face - you'll need one, too - and, if you claim you don't, in the words of Nell Carter to her bathroom scale, "YOU A LI-AH!"), she quickly ascertained that I expressed my feelings (aka anger) a little too easily and my husband needed help expressing his. I was dismissed after a while and he still gets to go. I'm jealous, because a therapist is like a best friend that you pay, so you don't have to listen to their problems and you get to go on and on (and on) about your own. If I never get mad at my kids, they might grow up to be passive aggressive and infuriating to their spouses. And they'll get all the therapy time and their spouses won't get any. Just saying.

Anyhow, I do get mad at my kids. If I yell, I apologize. The times I've spanked them, I apologized, because (in my opinion, and no, I don't think you're evil if you do it and no, I don't want to discuss it) hitting of any kind is always wrong. Which doesn't mean I haven't done it, because I'm so far from perfect that perfect and I don't even shop at the same mall. I think that it's normal to lose one's temper from time to time. Everyone does it, but in different ways. I hope that I'm showing my children that, even though it's normal to lose your temper, that doesn't make it okay and you should apologize to the person who you hurt.

I love my mom's technique for ending a fight between kids and I use it when I need it. Now that I think about it, I may need to start using it for fights between adults and kids, too. Or adults and other adults (me and my dear husband, say). She would make us go sit in a room together until we got along. There were no instructions and there was no time limit. Just stay until you're done. My mom had three girls and only one boy. I have three boys, so I added one rule. I send them to their room and each boy has to stay on his own bed until they get along, so the peace talk doesn't degenerate into a WWF Smackdown reenactment. If they sit in silence for a while, fine. If they yell at each other for a while, fine, as long as I don't have to hear it. Same for temper tantrums, by the way. Go ahead and have one, but don't have it my (auditory or physical) personal space. I guess this is really a version of Time Out, although we've never called it that. I like the idea of not setting a time limit. I hope that'll help teach them to calm down on their own. Like all of my parenting, it's just an experiment, with no control group and more uncontrollable variables than I can count, so we'll see.

That's my ramble for today.

Namasté, y'all.

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