I had the grand idea for this post last night when I was sitting around moping and feeling like I was an awful parent who just needed to phone it in to DHS (our state equivalent of Child Protective Services) and quit.
I do know better, but PMS does nasty things to my mental state, and we've already established that I'm REALLY good at self-degradation.
Well, that and making pies.
That post tomorrow.
Anyway, the thought process was still roiling in my head this morning, so I sat down to type. And then I thought, "Well, what do I want to say? What do I want to accomplish?" I started typing a draft, of all things, to get it out.
Next thing I knew I had typed three pages and had not only flogged the dead horse so thoroughly it was no longer recognizable as a horse, I'd lost myself somewhere in the middle. I really need to follow my own 'This Should Be a Rule for Presidents' guide and make sure that nothing I type is longer than the Gettysburg Address.
Yeah, like that'll happen.
But here I go, putting words down and publishing them without thinking, which is really what I do best anyway. I'm totally a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.
Sorry. Those of you who know me best are probably rolling on the floor laughing at that one. I don't think I'd even know what to do if my pants started flying through the air with me in them... other than panic and maybe start planning what I'd do when I started hurtling back toward earth.
I digress. That's also what I do best.
The point I want to make here is that I'm at a place where I no longer want to talk to other parents about parenting. I'm done. I've hit a wall, so to speak, somewhere between discipline and judgment.
I'm not a harsh mom, I don't think. I'm not perfect, and I do lose it sometimes (and apologize later), but I'm not The Wicked Witch of the West, either. Consequences are fair - run in the house too many times and you'll be running a lap around the back yard, put holes in your closet with a drumstick and the drumsticks are confiscated and you help repair the damage, insult my food too many times and you can make your own, etc. Warning is given, and I make sure the kids understand where I'm coming from and that they're able to follow through. When left to their own devices, I have discovered their own punishments are remarkably similar to mine (which probably has a lot to do with nurture vs. nature, but that's another post).
Yet I have discovered that apparently according to 'THOSE' people, I'm draconian.
You know the type of people I mean, especially if your child happens to act up in public:
-- The supposedly well-meaning grandparent who eyes your screaming child and says, in all the charming goodness of his or her heart, "She looks like she needs a good spanking." Yes, because THAT has worked so well, and I'm going to do it in public!
-- The woman who has no children of her own who offers up advice like, "Can't you just talk to her?" Can't you see we're past that? Don't you think I tried??
-- The man who makes the snide remark to "himself" as you walk past, muttering, "Brat children need to be taught a lesson." So do you, sir, thanks.
-- The mom whose kids wouldn't IMAGINE acting out in public (that day) who raises an eyebrow juuuuust enough for you to notice. Makes me want to stick my tongue out in an effort to echo the maturity. I usually bite it instead.
-- The looks from people as they try to figure out why your son is crouching down as he walks down the Halloween aisle because he's petrified something is going to make noise from above him. (OK, yeah, I got nothing for this one because it IS rather unique.)
I know there are people out there whose children just don't do the same things my kids do. I'm happy for them!! I'm rather jealous, to be honest. I'd love to not have to worry about children dashing across the parking lot on impulse because I'm "so mean and I hate you and you've ruined my life and EVERYTHING!"
My kids' behavior has nothing to do with the fact that they've both been to see a psychiatrist, either, because I *know* there are 'normal' kids out there who do similar things and whose parents dole out similar punishments, and labels have nothing to do with it. I could put a T-shirt on my kid that says, "I have [diagnosis]. What's your excuse?" but it wouldn't change the way I deal with my kids one iota, and I doubt it'd change anyone's method of reacting TO me, either. Some people just love to be all up in your business, if you know what I mean.
But I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the looks and comments like I mentioned above. I'm tired of reading about people who use similar methods of discipline and then seeing folks - sometimes 'experts' - come back and share how those methods are "wrong" and the parents are "just not listening" to their kids and "should try X" the next time. Sure, there are times we could all use a tip or two, but let's not lambast the parent for TRYING. A kind word and gentle advice goes a long way. Plus, parenting is tough enough for anyone without extraneous 'help.' It's a constant battle, a war. There are peaceful days and there are days where you swear nobody's coming out alive, starting with yourself. There are days when you seem to be training the troops and others when the troops turn on you. Tactical maneuvers are met with marshaled forces. Some battles aren't worth fighting and others aren't worth winning, but then there are the ones that can decide the war if you don't dig deep into the trenches and hang on for dear life.
I could go on and on with my metaphorical speech, but I think I've made my point. I've also gone way past my word quota.
All I ask is that the next time you see a mom struggling with her kids in the grocery store, don't walk on by. Ask if you can help. After she gets done crying and telling you her life story, she might appreciate it. And she'll definitely thank you for not judging her.
(OH, and to all you folks who commented last week about M1 and his listening issues, thank you SO much for the laughs and the tips. It was just what I needed. I wish touching and eye contact would work, but Asperger's boy dislikes touching and can't handle eye contact. I'm going to do more lists, though, because those have worked in the past. I needed reminding, and I appreciate it!!)