Thursday, January 31, 2008

Smack down Wednesday

Every once in a while we have to have a "smack down" day. A day when I don't just issue threats, I actually follow through with them. These days usually begin with a great deal of whining, complaining and sass. However, shortly after the smack down has begun, we learn tears, screams and fits get us no where.

I'm a threat maker. As much as I hate to admit it, I am.

"Don't let me find these slippers on the floor again, or I'll have to get rid of them," I'll rant as I nearly trip on the black Hello Kitty numbers for the eighteenth time in two days.

"If you can't stop fighting, you won't be able to go to the store with me," I warn as the bickering continues into its fourth hour.

Every decent parenting book would suggest if you make a threat, you should then follow through with it. I follow through, the problem is, that it takes a smack down day before I make good on my threats. A day when we've reached that point of teetering on chaos and a total loss of any sanity that remains.

A parent should clearly state the outcome or result of a given action, and then follow through with that result. It's really very simple, straightforward and effective. That is, if you do it.

For all my talk, though, I'm really very soft-hearted with our kids. I'll trip over the Hello Kitty slippers for the nineteenth time, and again ask that they be picked up. Finally, after tripping over them for the twentieth time, I end up picking them up myself.

And after weeks and weeks of this idle threat making, their idle selective hearing and my growing frustration, a smack down day gets under way. I say it, I do it. I'm not mean, I don't yell, I simply do as I say I'm going to do.

"If you throw another toy, I'll have to turn off your music," I tell Alena.

Since I'm not blind, I did see that toy stethoscope fly through the air three seconds after my warning. Now, the little CD player gets turned off and we'll not get to hear Taylor Swift's new song for the one hundred and eleventh time today. Yes, I'm sorry. Yes, I know you don't like me right now. But, I warned you.

"Please don't yell again or you won't be able to read books before nap time," I clearly explain to Alivia after lunch. "Do you understand what I'm saying?," I then follow-up, just to be sure.

Okay, I, along with any neighbor who is home today, heard that shrieking. And despite your fits of protest, I'll now have to carry you up to your room for nap time, sans story reading, and tell you in my most calm, patient voice that I'm very sorry you won't get to hear "Priscilla and the Pink Planet" (which you could recite to me by heart), but I asked you not to yell.

A few encounters like this and order is restored. Okay, not necessarily complete order, but as much order as you could expect in our house. On smack down day they get that I mean business and it's best to take my word at face value. And by day's end I feel better, they feel better and tomorrow will be better for having just a little more discipline about us all.

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