Friday, November 7, 2008

Good Kids?

For an entire week I was basking in the glow of positive parenting feed back. Then Halloween came and spooked away the glory.

Volunteering in Coyote's class room, I efficiently dealt with their severe problem child (the whiniest primadona EVER), much to the gawking teacher's astonished admiration. Then I got all the kids doing yoga and meditating. She was amazed and gushed about my skills and wondered about substitute teaching.

Then I had parent-teacher conferences at Blue's school. I actually like her teachers now. Not yet keen on the "make your day" program (the program's name gets the whole family singing "Pump up the Jam"), nor do I expect to be in the near or distant future. The teachers actually told me, "It is obvious that you have put a lot of time and energy into your daughter." They also told me that they stopped using "Steps" on her because she didn't need them. They just tell her to stop and she does. They also put her into the accelerated math class. I've warmed up to them, now that they "get" Blue and they flattered me so eloquently. How can you not like that?

And then Halloween came, and the candy, and the late night. Wenatchee had a kickin' Halloween with one particular neighborhood totally decked out and crowded. Huck played in Leavenworth with the SKA band that night and returned home at 2 AM. Then we left at 5:30 for a 10AM funeral.

We walked into the Columbarium and I gasped in horror. It was a labyrinth of floor to ceiling glass. Each square foot of glass full of urns. This is every mother-of-two-kids-jacked-on-last-night's-candy-and-sleep-deprived's worst nightmare. For one and a half hours I had to keep the kids entertained. We looked at the 1,000,000 boxes. We met a woman leaving flowers for her 19 year old son who drowned and her 17 year old niece who died in her sleep. We dipped our fingers in every fountain. But it wasn't enough to keep a full-on wrestling match from erupting. Feet kicking 1 millimeter from the GLASS WALLS! In the middle of the funeral. When it was time to leave, Blue was spasticly flinging on her coat in the entry. She managed to miss the glass table but punched a visitor. When I told her to calm down that great big girl actually laid down in the foyer and kicked her legs in the AIR!! In a dress! I dragged her outside and just laid into her, "What are you doing? What is this behavior! I'm embarrassed and ashamed right now!" I was yelling, then I saw the door open and a relative heading out from the Columbarium. So I suddenly switched to a sweet voice saying, "And so I expect you to behave like the wonderful and amazing girl you really are, Okay honey?" Classic private-mom/public-mom stuff. I couldn't believe I was perpetrating it myself.

The reception was way better. It was in banquet room with an entire GLASS WALL over water. GREAT! But they had balsa wood airplanes which we flung around and smacked everyone in the head at least once. Now that's kid friendly!

So, post Halloween, I have developed a diabolical parenting tactic. It works so well that I have some concerns about it. If it's THAT effective, can it be safe? Ethical?
Here's how I developed it:
Huck was at band practice. I had a fever and felt dizzy and run down. Coyote would not go to bed. I was not going to do the chase-and-giggle thing he was gunning for. So when I told him to go to his room and he giggled and said "NO". I grabbed his bucket of Halloween candy. I tipped open the kitchen garbage with the toe lever. And I held a Mars bar over the trash. "If you don't get to your room by the count of FIVE, I'm going to throw this away."
He looked at me in TOTAL HORROR. Paralyzed by shock. His mouth gaped and gasped. He couldn't believe I would do it.
Blue whipped up from her homework and shrieked, "RUN COYOTE RUN!!!"
"One, two, three." And he was his room.
"I'm so happy to see that you've decided to cooperate tonight!"
Was that a questionable tactic? It was so efficient, it seems like it should be wrong. But I can't figure out what could possibly be wrong with it, except that it fulfills several parenting fantasies at once: throwing out candy and prompt responses. Is that so wrong? Is it wrong to make your dreams come true?

MOVIE REVIEW: If you are a parent and you haven't seen the 1944 classic "National Velvet," since you were a kid, you should. It stars Micky Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor. I loved this movie as a horse-obsessed child, but I recently got a grown-up take on it. The parents are hilarious as a couple. The little brother is COYOTE. Completely. Absolutely. And my kids loved it too.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to add something here. This weekend I was at a few events with a woman I've been getting to know from the UU church. She's a child psychologist. So I ran by the "candy toss" method with her. And she LOVED it. She said it's success was in the fact that I actually wanted to throw the candy away, therefore I had all the power. A time-out isn't the most exciting thing for a mom to enforce, and the kids can read that hesitancy. But tossing out candy: they saw it in my eyes that I'd love nothing better. She said it was perfectly fine, and not scarring at all. I said, YIPPEEE!

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