Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cruel, not mean, parents suck!

Ugh. I think I saw a former student of mine in the grocery store today. To say that he wasn't one of my favorites would be a huge understatement. That kid caused me no end of trouble, both in and out of school.

If I had to guess the root of his problems, I would say bad parenting. That's not letting him off the hook by any means, but his parents are nutcases. They are definitely mean, but not in the strict, no-nonsense yet caring way that I espouse. No, they are mean in the hostile/psycho/bullying kind of way. Very demanding, with high expectations, and no respect whatsoever. 

Whenever the delinquent got in trouble for doing something, one or both parents came to the school and caused a scene. The mother even slammed the door to the principal's office. Really. They took the concept of "helicopter parenting" to the extreme, but they didn't seem nurturing in any sense of the word. Their kids (yes, there are more than one) were bullied and shamed  and demeaned, all with the excuse of it "being in their best interests".

Clearly, there is a huge difference between being a "mean" (my definition) mommy (or daddy) and being a cruel mommy or daddy; a "mean" mommy or daddy has high expectations and does everything they can to teach their kids how to reach them. A cruel parent has high expectations and bullies their kid into achieving them; when the kid fails to do so (which typically happens), the parent tries to bully teachers, administrators, coaches, etc into excusing or fixing the kid's mistakes instead of trying to correct them.

I hope that time and maturity have led my former student to see how his parents did him a disservice. Especially since he had a small child with him. Whether he is a daddy, a step-dad, an uncle or a "manny", I hope that he uses common sense and is only mean in the right way.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hats off to this mom!

Way to go, Amanda!

My kiddo is not old enough to really be embarrassed by me, but I'll be sure to remember this technique when the time is right. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Am Not Your Maid

Wow. Even my own mother--the kiddo's grandmother--called me mean.

The kiddo came in to get her bath, and must have been running around barefoot outside, because she left muddy/dirty footprints in the bathroom.

She probably left a trail from the door into the bathroom, but the prints were only visible on the white bathroom tile. I was on the phone with my mom while the kiddo was in the bath and while I was expressing my dismay over the added chore that I would have to do when it hit me--the kiddo left the footprints, so she should be the one to clean them up. She was not happy to hear that. It was at that moment that my mom declared that I was mean to make the kiddo clean up her mess. She added that I never had to clean the floor when I was a kid (probably because I cleaned my feet or took my shoes off before coming in the house!).

Before you start complaining that I am violating child labor regulations, please be advised that I cleaned up the majority of the dirt, but left enough for the kiddo to clean so that she would realize that I was justifiably annoyed by having to do it. I'm sure that this one incident won't be enough to discourage her carelessness, but if it happens again (and again, and again)--the dirt-tracking and the enforced cleanup--she will learn that it's better to take that extra moment to wipe her feet.

As for my mom, I can't be too mean to her...just a little ;)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh, Yum, Fresh Chemicals

Chemical Science Experience Clip Art

The kiddo got a coupon for a free treat from a local business. She didn't know what it was, but she was excited to try it. (Maybe other kiddos in her class told her how sweet and "fruity" this type of treat is...?) I'm not naming the business, and I'm not criticizing those parents who let their children partake, but I, personally am not a fan of this product. The ingredient list probably reads something like this: "high fructose corn syrup, sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, artificial fruit-favored chemicals, artificial colors, chemical preservatives, random and assorted crap".

It would have been so easy to just "lose" the coupon, but the kiddo had her heart set on getting a treat. So I gave in, on a couple of conditions: (1) she had to accompany me on errands without whining before we could redeem the coupon, and (2) she couldn't have it all in one day; she could have half that day and half the following day. She agreed, so off we went.

She chose the flavor she wanted, then decided to mix flavors. I was sure that the anticipation would be better than the end result, but no, I was wrong. The kiddo offered me a taste (she gets points for generosity), but it was so sweet and artificial I couldn't stomach it. I decided that it was enough to last for three days instead of the two days we had agreed upon. Surprisingly, that decision didn't elicit an argument.

If we were face to face, you might say "Oh, geez, let the kid have a treat!".  I've gotten looks and even a sneer in the grocery store for nixing unnatural products like neon green "juice", so bring it on. But you know what? She gets enough treats. They have treats in school, she is sometimes allowed to buy ice cream at school. I like goodies myself so we have desserts at home once in a while (OK, desserts I make myself that are crap-free). The kiddo loves fresh fruit, so fresh berries or a watermelon are a treat for her. Why should I create and feed a sugar addiction? Don't even get me started on all the artificial stuff.

So, no, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak, but a huge sugar rush and chemical overload? No way.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good Bleeping Morning!

Last night, hubby let the kiddo stay up "late"--later than usual for her, anyway--to watch the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance. They had started this ritual over the summer (when staying up late didn't pose a problem), so there was no way he could get out letting her watch the most important episode. I was a bit worried that this extra half hour or so (she didn't get to see the whole show) would have dire repercussions this morning, so I told him that he would be in charge of getting her up and dressed in the morning, since she would surely protest...and boy did she protest.

The kiddo was more or less coherent when I went in to tell her good morning, but she just rolled over and pulled the covers over her head. I picked her up and hugged her, but she wanted to snuggle with me, not get dressed. Then, she didn't like any of her clothing options. At that point, hubby resorted to yelling at her and threatening to call the doctor since she must be sick to be acting that way. I told him "good luck", got my morning tea, and started writing this post.

The kiddo came in a few minutes later, fully awake, calm, and in clothes of her own choosing. Her t-shirt is from last year and a little short, and her skort isn't weather-appropriate; she is going to be chilly on her way to school, but I'm mean enough to let her learn that the hard way. As for the hubby, he can be mean when he needs to be, too. I'm proud.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Averting Disaster

I haven't mentioned my other "kid" yet, the furry one. He is a big, wimpy, scardycat who stays inside. Frankly, I don't think he would last long outside; he's not much of a hunter, and everything freaks him out. This usually isn't an issue, because I am super vigilant about keeping the outside doors closed. Yesterday, though...

The kiddo had some friends over, and she was so excited about playing that she forgot the basic rule: "Shut the door!". Mr. Kitty got scared because I ran the vacuum cleaner and ran downstairs. Typical. But then I heard the kiddos outside and I went to check the downstairs door, and it was open. Naturally, I assumed that Mr. Kitty had gone outside--forbidden fruit (or, birds) and all--and I freaked out. There, uh, may have been threats directed at all the kids :(  but I was worried about my furry child.

After a frantic search and a lot of screaming, I found the doofus, in the spare room, hiding under the furniture. Apparently, the kiddos were making such a ruckus just outside the door, he ran the other way. So, he is smarter than I thought!

Mr. Kitty has been with us since before the kiddo, and he is an important member of the family. The thought of him being hurt by another animal or hit by a car makes my heart hurt. It makes me furious that the kiddo can't be more careful, especially when she knows the rule! Yes, Mean Mommy was at it again, but I'm not apologizing. My house, my cat, my rules!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Playing "The Mommy Card"

A friend posted on Facebook how disgusted she was to find that cashier/bagger at the supermarket had put her raw meat in the same bag with other items, especially produce. That's not only gross, but a potential health hazard. Salmonella or e-coli, anyone? Lots of her friends sympathized and offered suggestions, one of which was to explicitly request that meat be bagged separately. My friend, a busy mom of two young children, replied that she doesn't "have time to micromanage store employees". And you know what, she shouldn't have to. It seems like this is a basic food safety issue that the cashier should have learned in training, if not at home. But I think my friend should say something, because, as a mom, she gets a free pass. Let me explain:

A while back, I was in Target checking out, and the cashier coughed into her hand then reached for my items. Eeeew! I don't want extra germs, thank you very much. Now, as much as it might seem like I relish getting in someone's face, the truth is it makes me uncomfortable, but sometimes (ok, a lot of the time), I feel strongly that it must be done. I put my hand up and said "Stop! You need to use hand sanitizer". She looked at me like I was crazy. She halfheartedly looked around her register for some, but didn't find any. So I got mine out of my purse and offered her some. She just stared at me (probably thinking she should call security to get the crazy lady out of her line), but then I played The Mommy Card: I told her that I have a little girl, and I can't afford to for either of us to get sick.
 I didn't add that her mommy should have taught her better manners, but you know I was thinking it.

So, speak up and play The Mommy Card!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Something to Think About

Quick Update

The new comb and brush are a hit! I even used the comb on my hair in the shower last night, and it worked great with the conditioner. We used the brush this morning, and the kiddo only screamed once, and that was because I accidentally brushed her neck (oops). I'm relieved that this mean mommy issue has been resolved!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Something to Try

New brush ("Tangle Tamer") and new comb (for in the shower; it detangles and evenly distributes conditioner). They are both pink, so the kiddo should like them. We'll see...

Brushing Her Hair Hurts My Ears

Aaaack! It's too early for Halloween, but the kiddo looks like the Bride of Frankenstein! And I mean The. Hair. She has curly hair, and sometimes it's slightly damp when she goes to bed; for her, "bed head" is not a good look.

I'm not trying to turn the kiddo into a prissy chick who only cares about her appearance, but I don't want people thinking that her personal hygiene is lacking. Or that there is a family of squirrels living in her hair. And I certainly don't want a family of squirrels to get any ideas about moving in.

We use gentle shampoo, lots of conditioner, no blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron, so her hair isn't damaged (even after a summer of swimming in chlorine and saltwater). I have tried different products; detangling sprays are a good idea, but most of them contain parabens, which are horrible--if they are only applied to the hair, I don't think they can be absorbed into the skin very much, but still, not a good idea. I use some nice, safe products on my own hair, but they are not cheap; the kiddo disliked the fragrance of one and ran away from me when I tried to put in in her hair. I ended up with a lot of product on my hair that day.

Thanks to my mom, who tries and rejects almost every personal product under the sun, we have a few styling gels, creams, pomades, etc to try on the kiddo. Some of them even smell good, and she lets me put them in her hair--at which point I'm so frustrated that I don't care about the parabens--but here's the problem: if her hair looks terrible and I apply a product with any kind of "hold" to it, her hair will look terrible all day!

So what's a mean mommy to do? Well, I grab her brush and the chase is on. First, I have to catch the kiddo, hold her in place and try to get the brush through her hair while she is squirming and flailing. And screaming. Don't forget the screaming. She's usually so relieved when the torture brushing is over, she lets me apply product and scrunch her hair or put it into a ponytail or whatever. The end result looks good; it's just the process that stinks.

There are a few options: (1) Say "screw the parabens" and buy cheap detangling spray; (2) work out with heavy weights so that I am strong enough to restrain the kiddo while doing her hair; (3) make her get a short hair cut; (4) try a "paddle"-style brush like our hair stylist uses. For now, I'm going to go with option #4.

If the new hairbrush doesn't work, I promise I won't use it as a paddle, as much as I might want to. I'm not that mean.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Politics Makes People Mean

Today I got into a discussion on Facebook about politics. I won't go into detail here because this is not a political blog, and I know when it's best to keep my opinions to myself, unlike some people. Oh, there I go again, being mean.

One of the participants in the discussion told me to "stop being mean to Jane Doe because she is a nice person". Excuse me, but voicing my opinions is not mean. Pointing out inconsistencies in her arguments and  statements that contradict one another is not mean. If I had called her names and insulted her mother, now that would be different.  I need to mention that the FB poster has called a particular politician names, insulted his mother, and criticized his wife's derriere, yet I get called out for pointing out that her argument didn't make any sense. So I kept commenting, which was kinda mean. We have such differences in opinion, there really is no point in having a discussion.

With a major election coming up, we need to get ready for the ensuing campaigning--backstabbing, name calling--meanness x infinity. I need to not get carried away, and to keep my meanness in check and where it belongs--depriving my kiddo of excessive amounts of sweets, tv, bad manners and attitude and calling out stupidity appalling manners bad parenting poor decisions when I see them. Hey! Maybe I should run for office! Vote for Mean Mommy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not So Loud!

A friend of mine never seems to yell at her kids. They are pretty well-behaved, but when she does need to reprimand them, she does it in a soft, sweet voice. Then there's me, who screams something to the effect of  "knock it off!" or "don't do that!" umpteen times a day. My kiddo is not a bad kid, but she is rather impulsive, stubborn and hard-headed. I actually am impressed with her imagination, determination and tenacity, except when it leads her to make poor decisions. Like trying to practice "skinning the cat"*  by hanging onto the living room curtains. OK, so it was raining outside, and she really wanted to get it right. But not on the curtains!! 

I asked my friend her secret, but she just kind of shrugged it off. Probably because she was thinking that my child is out of control or I just have no patience.  But really, my kiddo is a good kid. She knows how to treat her toys (put them away!), the house (don't break it!), the cat (get off him!), and me (stop making noise when I'm on the phone!). It's just that when she forgets--and of course she forgets, she's a kid--reminding her in a soft, sweet voice just doesn't work.

*Skinning the cat is a gymnastics move involving a flip. No cats were injured in the writing of this post.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cinderella Wants to go to the Ball. Or at Least Sit Down for a While.

I've noticed an interesting correlation: I am often mean when people don't let me have time to myself. Of course, when the kiddo is about to fall on her head, wants too much tv time, or exhibits rude, unacceptable behavior, I fall into the "mean" category, but there are other times I can be mean, too. This is not exactly something I'm proud of, but it really can't be helped.

For example, I clean a lot. I like things clean, but I hate the act of cleaning. Paradox, huh? So, when something is pristine and/or just the way I like it, it pisses me off to no end when it gets messed up and I have to redo it. Really, I could be reading, talking to my bff, eating chocolate from my secret stash, or even cleaning other things, so having to re-clean something does not make me happy.

In those instances when I have to redo something, I tend to get mean. I mutter under my breath, stomp my feet, and, yes, yell. Then I feel bad. Most of the time the kiddo is just being her exuberant--and often careless--self, and I certainly don't want to put a damper on that (well, maybe on the careless part).

Even when everything is squeaky relatively clean, she can turn me into SuperMean Mommy by demanding too much of me when I haven't adequately taken care of myself. Like the time I came home from the gym famished, and she demanded yogurt with honey and this and that and the other thing; she had already eaten breakfast, and I had eaten nothing at all that day. I snarled at her, but really, can't I eat without feeling like Cinderella, never getting to go to the ball? Why do I have to be mean in order to take care of myself?