Spare the rod, pass the Pinot

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.

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6 thoughts on “Spare the rod, pass the Pinot

  1. Hey Kate
    My Daddy spanked me with a belt when I was 3 or 4. He never spanked me again. I only remember giving you one real spanking. I never spanked you again. If you can get the point across without spanking, go for it. Spanking really does hurt the parent more – and longer.

  2. Pop, I think Mama spanked you more than once, with a “switch”.
    And Katie, the Pinot does help!

  3. Katie, Katie, Katie….it keeps happening. How is it that you get inside my head and pull my thoughts out for the blog!? I guess I find some comfort in the fact that everything you’re feeling, I’m feeling. Consistency – that one is my biggest question mark for the day.

    When I do something Fisher doesn’t approve of, he scrunches up his face, turns red, screams and shakes his little hands as if he cannot believe the world has come to an end. That I can deal with. If I’m holding him or I’m within his little arms-length distance when he thinks I’ve done wrong, he scratches my arm or slaps at my face. That I can’t deal with. I often react, as Michael says, too loudly, in my ugly mom-voice…and then we go into timeout to cool off 🙂 But he always kisses me after timeout and our conversations about being a good boy and being kind to others….and that part is really sweet.

    Raising kids – wow – I had no idea that the phrase I heard all my life was actually true….it’s the hardest job and the most fantastic job we’ll ever have.

    Rock on, Langstons!

  4. Would that I had known then what I “think” I know now…spanking really doesn’t work! I, unfortunately, did it more than once, Pop. It was always more about my exhaustion and reaction than it was about really changing the “presenting” behavior. Parenting is NOT an exact science…I am always glad to see that Gill and Lee turned out, despite my antics! Eve will, as well!

  5. Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany. I had a feeling you were going through the same thing. And I feel exactly the same as you do. I am wicked awesome at ignoring temper tantrums, but when things get physical…that’s when I lay the hammer down. Most of the time. Some of the time. I’m working on consistency, too.

    Rock on, Armstrongs!

    Daddy, whatever I was spanked for, I’m sure I had it coming. In fact, I can remember several instances where I definitely had it coming and didn’t get spanked. So. Rock on, Daddy.

  6. Yes Katie, I too remember the spankings; however, I can’t remember exactly why except for one. Anyway, that is in the past. Tiredness can play a part in your reactions, but personally I feel you were right. When the two of you would act out in the grocery store (or anywhere, for that matter), we would immediately leave. I unceremoniously picked up Mag and took you by the hand and out we went, leaving the cart where it was. Remember, children watch other children and think, “Hmmm…wonder if that will work on my mommy.” And they try. Setting boundaries early is important. You seem to be doing that. And bravo for it. It will help her learn self control and respect for all people. As far as the spanking issue goes, it should never be done when you are tired or really mad. And the reason it is being done should be explained fully. You may reach that point at some time. Just be careful when and why you do it. You said in the last blog entry how blessed you were to have such an amazing little girl. She is and will help you learn more about yourself than anyone else.
    You are doing a great job, Kate–because you question yourself and reach out for help. I am proud of you.

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