One of my most important goals in life is to be a mom who loves her kids with all her heart but doesn’t take any crap. I’ve seen the crap-taking moms in action (or inaction, rather), and I don’t like what I’ve seen. Far be it from me to pass judgment on another’s parenting style, but when your little angel slaps you right across the face in Target after shrilly proclaiming to the whole of the store that you are “a big stupidhead”, you got problems, sister.
Evie has reached the age of temper tantrums, meltdowns and general acting-outedness. This is perfectly natural. She very much wants to assert her independence and to have a say in how her life goes. Since her foremothers fought a hard-won battle to gain this option for her, I’m fully behind it. And since having my little girl, I’ve discovered a new level of patience I never knew I had. Except for when I get hit with balloons and magic markers.
We pulled up in the driveway yesterday evening, and I went about unhitching Evie from her carseat and gathering up our things from the car. There’ve been many birthday celebrations in our lives lately, so Evie has amassed quite a collection of balloons, two of which she had with her in the backseat. Evie loves balloons. She also really likes boundary testing. So, she bonked me in the face with one of her balloons. This was not pleasant and made me feel kind of like one of the Stooges, so I told her not to do it again. She screwed up her little face into quite a sneer and bonked me again, harder. Then she started in with her new favorite hobby: talkin’ smack.
Evie’s version of talkin’ smack consists of the sneer face, some finger pointing and a bunch of nonsensical words strung together and interspersed with several “No!”‘s. This is also known as giving me the what-for. It’s purpose is to put me in my place and exert authority. It doesn’t work.
I calmly but firmly took Evie’s balloons away from her, which upset her greatly. We then had a “conversation” in the driveway, in front of God and everybody, about how we don’t hit Mommy with balloons. I shouldn’t have been so specific.
This morning I wouldn’t let Evie play in the dishwasher. Y’all, seriously, I am so irrational sometimes. The smack was again talked, and then a red magic marker was hurled at me. Again, calmly but firmly, I picked Evie up, sat her down on a chair in the den and got right up in her face. I informed her that she DOES NOT hit Mommy with anything. Ever. I then flashed two fingers in her face and told her she was in time out for two minutes. Evie looked very petulant and solemnly sucked her thumb.
After her two-minute penalty was up, we had another little talk. I asked her if she was a Good Girl. She nodded. I then asked her if Good Girls throw markers. She was undecided. I assured her that they do not. Bad Girls throw markers. I asked her if she was a Bad Girl. She shook her head. I agreed that she was not a Bad Girl at all. I asked if she understood me. She replied with, “Understand me,” which is Evie for “Yes.” Then she gave me a kiss. Then she asked to watch TV.
Except for the kiss, I hated every minute of both of these exchanges. I hate disciplining my child. It’d be so much easier to just ignore her outbursts and angry displays and let her beat me with party supplies and climb into the dishwasher. And I hate my Mad Mommy Voice. But, as is becoming more painfully clear the further I get into this parenting thing, I am The Mommy. I, along with my parental co-conspirator, The Daddy, must take on the task of molding our offspring into a well-behaved, polite, cooperative young lady. It’s our responsiblity to her and to those who come into contact with her now and years from now. It’s our job to not take any crap.
Gill and I decided pretty early on that we wouldn’t spank our children. We both were spanked as children. It was a choice our parents made. Our parents are awesome. We’ve made a choice to discipline by other means. We’re trying to be awesome parents, too. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.
But I worry sometimes that I’m not doing it right. Am I disciplining consistently enough? Am I being too hard on Evie? Am I not being hard enough? Am I stifling her need to express, release and learn to deal with her emotions? Does her behavior at this moment really warrant correcting or am I just tired? Why do I have such a hard time disciplining her in front of other people? Will Gill and I eventually come upon the need to spank her? Who will do it? How many times? How hard? What is a spank-worthy offense? Will we show up one day on an episode of Snapped wondering where we went wrong?
Folks, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Pass the Pinot.