Friday, July 15, 2011

“The Pool Incident”

Otherwise titled: We Are Going to Have Fun, Damn It!!

Before I get started, I want to thank everyone who participated in my Thirty-One Giveaway! I will announce the winner on Monday.

Last week, I created a Skinny Scoop survey based on “The Pool Incident.” Here are the responses:




Here’s the story behind the survey:

I took the Babes to the pool last week. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and I like to make sure that I make the most of the $12 a month to add them to my gym account. I thought to myself, “What would be more fun than the pool. I know! Let’s bring the new underwater Ariel doll and floating fishies! That would totally make something fun even more fun. Yea, me!”

It was fun for all of five minutes. Because Thomas then wanted what Marie had. And when he had it, he threw it out of the pool. And I don’t know if you ever played with the underwater Ariel doll, but is hard plastic with hair that when flung about, whips water around like a sprinkler.

I reprimanded Thomas several times. He was not happy. At all. So I pulled out the big guns right away. I told him, “Cut this out. Sissy was playing with Ariel. You play with your fishiest and then you can trade. If you don’t stop, we’ll go home. Is that what you want? Do you want to go home?”

And he replies, “Yes. Go home now.”

What?! Are you serious? You were supposed to say no. Now what?!

So he walked by the door to go inside. And pouted. And crossed his arms. And turned his back to me. And refused to come on over to the pool. Here I am, sitting on the edge of the pool closest to the door while still sitting close to where Marie was playing in the shallow end. I felt like a friggin’ chameleon with one eye looking at Thomas and the other eye watching Marie.

I looked at him as he refused to sit by me in the pool. Then I looked at all the children frolicking around so joyfully while their perfectly bikini-cladded mothers sat peacefully admiring their children in the water.

I then did what any other mom would do.

I panicked.

I marched my tankini-self over to Thomas and first bribed him with Pirate’s Booty White Cheddar Cheese Puffs and cookies.

When that didn’t’ work, I began to threaten him. The list included but was not limited to the following:
- Pirate’s Booty
- No TV at bedtime
- No dessert after dinner
- No driver’s license when he turns 16


When that didn’t work, I just let him be. I let him whine and pout.

Finally, when I couldn’t take it anymore and it was time to apply more sunblock, we left. And guess what?

He cried to because he didn’t want to go home.

Can you believe that?

Thomas really turned on the water works because we were leaving to go home (something he had been whining to do for over an hour) and now there was no Pirate’s Booty or cookies.

I struggle with what to do in these situations. I hate to bribe. I hate to make threats (mostly because I hate having to follow through). I don’t feel comfortable yelling and spanking them into submission for a litany of reasons. Basically, I hate reacting; I rather be proactive.

I do want to keep his self-esteem intact. I want him to feel a connection between his behavior and choices. I feel like how I act in these situations sets the tone for later on. I don’t want him to think of himself as “bad” because I feel he will live up to that expectation. On the other hand, he just can’t throw shit everywhere and act like an animal. I won’t be doing him any favors by enabling his heathen behavior.

It’s just that he is so damn convincing with his tears and pouts that I am doing eternal damage to his soul.

But when I cave, he gives cuts the tears and gives me a look that I pretty much think that says says, “Sucker!”

*sigh*

What would you do?

And please don’t tell me boys will be boys. I have a post simmering on the back burner for this very saying that drives. Me. Crazy.

Have a great weekend! See you back on Monday when I announce the winner for the Thirty-One giveaway.

22 comments:

Sparkling said...

If you promised more dessert after supper for a good deed, and you didn't give it, you would feel awful, right? Kids need us to follow through. Even when it's "mean" or you're a "doody head". Even when it makes us uncomfortable.

This very wise teacher says PLEASE FOLLOW THROUGH on the threats!! When parents don't, kids expect that no one follows through and this is just bad for everyone. Make reasonable threats: no dessert tonight and then follow through. How else will they learn? Don't make crazy threats like: you won't get to have your driver's license until you're 80, because you can't follow through with that. Kids are about here and now.

If you follow up with what you said you would do that same day, then they realize you weren't kidding and that you will issue a consequence for inappropriate behavior every time!

thepsychobabble said...

Ditto what the previous poster said. Following through is important. It's also hard, and sucks the big one sometimes.
But. Still. It's important.
Not that I've got that lesson down, yet, of course. But I'm working on not threatening consequences I can't go through with.

Anonymous said...

I think every parent has been in a similar situation. The one thing to always remember is to only issue consequences that you are prepared to act on at that moment.
Another thing to try is to have a conversation in the car on the way to your destination letting each child know what you expect of them. Ask them to recite some rules they believe would apply then repeat and congratulate them for thinking of all the right things to do! They'll be more likely to own their behavior during the outing and feel more confident. Gentle reminders of the rules here and there will undoubtedly occur, but hopefully less obstinate behaviors.
PS: Bribing rarely works and when you think about it, you're giving them something they want because of a negative behavior. Is that the message you want to convey? "If you behave unfavorably I will give you something fun or yummy..."

Mommy on the Spot said...

Sparkling, you are right. I was a teacher. I know the drill about following through. Sometimes I just get lost in the moment. Thank you for giving it to me straight.

Mommy on the Spot said...

PyschoBabble, it totally sucks! But you are right. It is important. In the moment, I panic. This shit has got to stop. And reading all these comments has reminded me that it's OK to be a hard ass.

Mommy on the Spot said...

Anonymous, well, when you put bribery that way, it sounds more horrible than I orginally thought. Thanks for that. I will remember that next time I am feeling weak!

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to make you feel worse!!! Not my intention, I promise! I really only meant that sometimes, in a moment of weakness, we've all tried the bribe - I've totally done it! - but we need to step back a second and REALLY think it through. I apologise if my comment made you feel badly :(

Mommy on the Spot said...

My comment sounded snarky, but I honestly didn't mean it that way!! I really meant that when I feel like I want to be weak, I will remember that it is ridiculous to reward bad behavior. I knew bribing was bad, but I didn't know quite how to verbalize it.

Lately, I just feel like I am falling off track with parenting in difficult situations. I really appreciate these comments because they have helped me realize it's OK to be a hard ass and follow through.

Seriously, you didn't hurt my feelings, and I really appreicate your feedback!!

Anonymous said...

We share common ground in our kid's ages as well as the girl first boy second. I have to say, I was much better at responing to these situations with my first than my second. Is it because she's a girl and he's a boy? Is it because I had the time and energy for her and feel like I am just surviving with him? Is it because follow thru with him means making her pay his consequence too? I don't know the answer, but I am with you on feeling derailed with this one, and am SO GUILTY of threats and bribery too. Thanks for making me feel normal. Jill

Lyndsay said...

So nice to read that other moms go through the same exact experiences- the camaradie is comforting!

I also use bribes, usually in a proactive manner, like "If you pick up your blocks you we'll get the Play-Doh out" mainly because we've figured out that bribery in a negative way doesn't compute for Brady (he's almost 3). If we say "If you don't pick these toys up you can't watch a movie in your room" it's like he doesn't get it- later on when there's no movie, and even though we reiterated this consequence a million times when he didn't pick up the toys, he acts like this is the biggest tragedy of his life and I'm not sure the point is coming across because it never pans out later. (He never picks the toys any faster the next night.)

I feel your pain too for being disappointed (and mad!) when your kids ruin what was supposed to be fun, and in public no less. The mental exhaustion can be overwhelming!

Krajcimama said...

I have to agree with the follow through advice. I'm a teacher, too, and I know that if you don't follow through you lose all of your power! hehehe

It is hard, though. I guess I try to only make threats that I will be able to follow through with. I almost never tell my kids no TV because I'd go crazy if all 4 weren't allowed to watch it. I will say, "You will have to do something at the table while your brothers and/or sister watches TV."

It is also helpful to have a plan for consequences to behavior BEFORE it occurs. My kids know the drill. You get one warning then the consequences start. We have always done the naughty step at home, but if you are out that isn't as easy. Plus, if he is already isolating himself that makes it even less useful.

Unfortunately, in your situation, I would probably say there isn't much you could have done differently other than leave...kids really know how to push the buttons, huh?

Anonymous said...

Okay I am with everyone on the follow through, but also know how hard it is. Especially when your fun is being ruined also, grrrr. I've started the naughty room in our house. It's the dining room with nothing in it but a hard chair against the wall. One warning then it's there they sit until I tell them they can get up. Usually a minute per year of their life, which now is pretty long for both of them. If we are at our sub pool, it's a chair under the unbrella while they watch everyone else having fun... I won't leave and ruin one childs fun because the other is mis-behaving. And believe me, making one of them sit while everyone else is having a great time is priceless to watch and believe me they straighten up pretty quick. I know Thomas is younger, so this may not work for you :( but anything is worth a try. Good LUck!!

Jennifer said...

Okay this is a test let's see if it works :)

Jennifer said...

Okay I am with everyone on the follow through, but also know how hard it is. Especially when your fun is being ruined also, grrrr. I've started the naughty room in our house. It's the dining room with nothing in it but a hard chair against the wall. One warning then it's there they sit until I tell them they can get up. Usually a minute per year of their life, which now is pretty long for both of them. If we are at our sub pool, it's a chair under the unbrella while they watch everyone else having fun... I won't leave and ruin one childs fun because the other is mis-behaving. And believe me, making one of them sit while everyone else is having a great time is priceless to watch and believe me they straighten up pretty quick. I know Thomas is younger, so this may not work for you :( but anything is worth a try. Good LUck!!

Mommy on the Spot said...

Jill, I wonder the same thing. We need to keep fighting the good fight :)

Mommy on the Spot said...

Lyndsay, totally overwhelming! I guess consistency and *hope* that they get it sooner rather than later?? And hope I don'tloose my mind in the mean time.

Mommy on the Spot said...

Krajcimama, thanks! I am going to try the warning (and only one) before the consequences start kicking in.

Mommy on the Spot said...

Jennifer, that is a good idea. Thanks so much!

Yasmin @ alittlelessfluff said...

I feel your pain.
I sometimes resort to threatening and pretty much either get a "yes lets do that" or laughter!
Yes, Laughter. My twin toddlers are out to kill me.

Anonymous said...

One of the things my own mom was SUPER good at was follow through. Of course I hated it at the time, but have always known I'd try to be the same way as a mom. I recall many o times when she told me and my brothers to stop a certain behavior or else we'd leave - we continued and by god if she didn't just up and leave an ENTIRE grocery cart full of food and haul us out of the store, or pack up and leave the beach, etc. She meant business and we knew it. It certainly was a way of us keeping each other in line, because she didn't care if one person ruined it for the rest, we all paid. It even spread to the neighborhood kids - if we were playing outside with them and THEY were too loud, WE'D have to come inside. It sounds hard core compared to today's parents...

I agree follow through is so important but also keeping your consequences doable in the first place.

Kristin

Mommy on the Spot said...

Kristin, your mom rocked! Thanks for sharing that. I will totally keep that in mind :)

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about this more and now recall that my mom didn't actually say "don't do that or we'll leave" she just said, "don't do that" and then just packed us up and left because we DID IT. There was hardly any threat or warning system - my mom was wily and unpredictable!! I remember being totally shocked by her responses sometimes - she was SO UNFAIR! :) I haven't been tested much with my daughter (2yo) yet, but expect I will lay out the cause and effect more so than my mom did and (hopefully) follow through rather than "threaten". We shall see!

Kristin