Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Following Up on the Follow Through

I posted "When Following Through Sucks" on my personal Facebook page, and some friends suggested that the kiddo might have sensory issues. I think that may be the case (I know I did when I was little!), but I'm wondering why they just popped up recently. The leggings and tights in question are the correct size, and once she has them on, they do not appear too small at all. However, that being said, by nature both leggings and tights are supposed to be snug fitting; they are not pants, after all.

One friend suggested that giving away her dresses and jumpers might be interpreted as a punishment; that is not my intention. I really can't let her wear dresses or jumpers in winter without some covering on her legs, but I am willing to put them aside and let her wear them as play clothes if she won't wear leggings or tights with them. Two have already been put in the pajama drawer to be worn as nightgowns (fine in my book, since they are showing signs of wear), so hopefully this won't be too traumatic.

There are several books in my library that mention sensory issues: The Highly Sensitive Person  (I think) and Raising Your Spirited Child, so I do have references to consult if she really is starting to suffer from this problem. However, the screaming and fussing and whining are not OK.

Monday, February 25, 2013

When Following Through Sucks

Gah! It's time for me to follow through! The kiddo threw a fit this morning because her leggings were snug. She tried a pair of tights, but they were too--you guessed it--tight. Both are the correct size, but she is rebelling against snug-fitting clothes. That's annoying, but OK. However, she was trying to put on the leggings (and then the tights) so that she could wear a dress; she certainly can't go to school with bare legs in February, even with global warming. She suggested pants, but I really don't like the dress-over-pants look. After too much time spent listening to her whining and fussing and wasting precious morning minutes, I marched into the kiddo's room and took the offending leggings and tights--and the dress, too--and handed her jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. I told her that we will give those clothes away if they are so awful. Tonight before bed, I went through her closet and picked out dresses and jumpers that have to be worn with leggings or tights, and told her that we would give them all away to her friend A, who would look adorable in them. The kiddo became upset, saying that she loves her clothes and doesn't want to give them away.

Now, here's where I need to follow through. The dresses and jumpers are for winter, and though they fit her now, they might not next year. Trying to get the kiddo to wear the appropriate leg covering is futile and not worth the drama it causes. But...I love some of those dresses, too! I don't want to give them away yet. We compromised on two of them: the kiddo can keep them as nightgowns. But the rest...they are in a pile, waiting to be put in the bag going to A's mommy. Sigh.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Follow Through

Want to win your tennis match? Remember the follow through. Is golf your game? Remember the follow through. "The follow through", of course, refers to sports, as in "the concluding part of a stroke, after a ball or other object has been hit or released" (thank you, online dictionary).

In parenting, the follow through can take many forms, but a good, basic definition would be "actually doing what you threaten to do when your child misbehaves", or "following your threats with (a reasonable) action that will communicate to your child that you are serious about making him change his behavior". Whether you use the word "punishment" or "consequence", it doesn't have any meaning if you don't follow through and implement it.

I'm sure  you have all heard something similar:

"Ashley, pick up your toys.
Ashley, I said to pick up your toys.
Pick up your toys NOW!
If you don't pick up your toys, I will take them away from you.*
I mean it! Pick up your toys now!
I'll count to, two, three...
Ashley, I'm serious! Pick up your toys!"

The * indicates the perfect opportunity for a follow through (although I would say something like "...or I will pick them up and put them away for you"). Ashley's mom could act on her threat and start grabbing toys and putting them in a box, then taking them out to the garage or somewhere that Ashley can't get to. Yes, Ashley would cry or yell or throw a tantrum--the first time. But once she knows that her mom will follow through, she will be more willing to pick up her toys. At this point, Ashley's mom is doing all the yelling and not accomplishing anything. One tantrum from Ashley might be unpleasant, but at least it would be productive--she would be learning about the follow through.

I inadvertently mastered the follow through when it comes to getting the kiddo to pick up small toys from the floor (hello, Legos!): the vacuum cleaner sucks them right up without any problem, and they make a clinking sound when they go in (oops). The kiddo knows that when I get the vacuum out, she better get everything off the floor because I am dangerous! My follow through with her hair seems to be improving; although she still whines, she has been letting me comb and/or brush her hair without too much trouble. I have a feeling I will get a chance to work on that, though.

OK, mommies, go forth and follow through!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Yesterday's post got an unbelievable number of view! Thank you all for letting me vent! Is the secret to getting a lot of page views using the word "bitchy" in the title? lol

Friday, February 22, 2013

Are You a Bitchy Mom?

Take this short quiz and find out:
  • Do you rule with an iron fist? 
  • Do you have zero tolerance for anyone or anything that is not up to your standards? 
  • Do you badmouth people and invent reasons for disliking them? 
  • Do you insist on being in charge and doing things your way even when others don't agree with you? 
  • Do you respond to requests to discuss your decisions with a resounding "NO"?  
If you answered "yes" to any the above questions, you may very well be a bitch (or a 20th century dictator). Neither of these things are particularly good, but if you are also a mom, you may be guilty of the more serious offense of teaching your particular skill set to your kids.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

So, I Was Talking to the Cat...

I think I'm becoming my mother. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing; my mom has many good qualities. But I was shocked to make this realization after a conversation this morning--with the cat.

Back story: when my dad was in school, he hung around some kids whose English grammar wasn't very good, and he picked up some of their bad habits that stayed with him long after he was done with school. My mom, on the other hand, should have been an English teacher. She is a stickler for good grammar and good vocabulary. My dad's frequent errors drove her crazy, and for a while, she tried to correct him, but he didn't appreciate that very much. So, she backed off. However, when I was a kid, my mom used to correct my grammar and vocabulary, especially in front of my dad, hoping he would get the hints.

I find that I correct the kiddo's English, too, but that's not where I'm going with this.

This morning, I found myself lecturing the cat on good manners in front of the kiddo. He was getting in my way and meowing for his breakfast. (A good translation might be: "Bleep it! Could you bleeping give me my food, you bleeping human? I'm bleeping starving here!") I told him that I didn't like his tone and that he could speak to me in a nicer way, since I'm the one feeding him. This is really similar to an admonishment I use often with the kiddo: "I don't like your tone. If you want me to do something for you, you need to ask me in a nice way. When you give me attitude and speak to me like that, I don't want to do anything for you".

This technique works on the kiddo. The cat, not so much.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Update: From Grumbling to Galloping!

The schools have already passed their 100-day mark, and the kiddo has attended all 100 of those days! That means that every day, except the very first day, we have walked her to school in the morning and back home in the afternoon! We have been lucky to avoid torrential downpours and gale-force winds and sub-freezing temperatures that might require her to be a car rider--nothing we can't handle with an umbrella, rain coat, or lots of layers. After a few early complaints about not being able to ride the bus, the kiddo settled into the routine and is happy to walk (and hold hands) with hubby and me. She is getting better at getting her book bag and lunch box packed, getting her coat and shoes/boots on and getting out the door in the morning. Unpacking her things in the afternoon is a little more challenging (see my previous post about that!), but Kindergarten is all about learning, right? I know I'm still learning!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kiddo Chores

Today after school, we went to the park! Because the kiddo had to change her clothes and have a snack before we left, I told her to leave her back pack and lunch box on the stairs and unpack them after we got back. Well, after over an hour of running and climbing and playing, she was "too tired" to take care of her stuff when we got home. "You do it!" was her suggestion. You can imagine how well that went over. I was still worn out from the "hair" incident from yesterday, and I just didn't want to have another argument. However, there was no way that I was going to do her chores for her. (Disclaimer: in the event of illness or injury, I will gladly take care of the kiddo's belongings for her. "Tired" doesn't meet the criteria.)

Instead, I used the "family obligation" argument: I reminded her that every member of the family has to help out so that the household can run smoothly. Then I asked, "Don't you like being a member of our family?" Then she said "Fine!" and did as she was asked. I was happy and relieved and a bit worried. Here's why:

First, she said "Fine". She may as well have rolled her eyes and stomped her foot. 5 going on 15. Yikes. My second concern isn't that one day she might tell me that she really doesn't like being a member of our family--she might say it, and it might sting, but I know that she won't really mean it. No, I'm worried that one day, probably soon, she will question what my job is in helping the household run smoothly, and come to the conclusion that my job is to yell. Or, she might ask what the cat's job is. I don't have a definite answer for that...entertainment, maybe...comic relief...?

Hair It Is...Again

Yesterday, an old problem reared its ugly, um, head at my house--the kiddo's hair. We were getting ready for church, which has a pretty relaxed dress code, but still...good grooming is always appreciated. I was not trying to tease or braid or (God forbid) straighten the kiddo's hair. No, I was just trying to brush it, with yet another type of brush. I wasn't even trying to completely eliminate the "bed head" look, just tone it down a bit, but even that was too much. The kiddo cried and wailed and shrieked that I was hurting her, which, yes, I admit might have happened when I accidentally brushed her arm (because she was trying to block me) or when I brushed her ear (because she turned her head).

Fresh off a night out with some friends celebrating Mama Power, I decided that I didn't need her terrible behavior. I put the brush down and finished getting myself ready. Then I left without her (she stayed home with hubby).

That sounds simple, but it took a lot of effort. When the kiddo realized that she wasn't coming with me--really, that she wasn't going to get to see her friends--she became upset and contrite, but it was too late. I held firm...and felt bad. I mean, her tears were real. But so were the tangles in her hair and her screams in my ears. The logic of Mama Power was telling me that:
  1. This was a teachable moment. The kiddo must learn to deal with her hair; she can let me brush it, or she can do it herself, or she can agree to a shorter, hopefully easier cut.
  2. If I caved, the only thing I would accomplish would be teaching her that whining and tears and insincere apologies are a good way to get what she wants.
  3. I don't need to subject myself to a temper tantrum and out of control behavior.
When I got home, I got a warm welcome from my (now) happy kiddo, plus a picture of the two of us holding hands with lots of hearts and "I love you" on it.    Mama Power!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mommy Talk

Last night I spent some time with a great bunch of moms! Of course, we caught up with what has been going on in our lives, and that includes our kiddos, but, child-rearing problems did not make up the majority of our conversations. However, enough kiddo-behavior tales did come up to remind us of a very important lesson which I will share with all of you:

                   Train your kids, or they will train you!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Red #40 Day

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook yesterday:

"Might as well call it Red #40 Day. Bedtime can't get here fast enough!"

She is referring to the common food coloring Red #40, which is over-used every February 14th (aka Valentine's Day). 

Red #40 is acknowledged as having an effect on children's behavior, causing hyperactivity; even my kiddo, who does not "officially" have any sensitivity to any food coloring, has been known to be out of control after indulging in red-colored treats. I first made the connection when the lady at the post office gave my kiddo a red lollipop, and not even 10 minutes later, she was acting up and giggling and not listening (more than usual--a friend of mine noticed the difference, too). This gives the term "going postal" a whole new meaning.

Red #40 can be such a problem that there are websites devoted to awareness of it. Check out for info, especially their list of candies that contain Red #40 here.

There is no realistic way to escape the onslaught of redness on Valentines Day, unless, of course you have already established uber-strict dietary restrictions. I try to keep the crap away from the kiddo, but she loves celebrating the holidays, and fake coloring is a well-established part of that. The key is limiting how much she can eat at one time. And waiting until she is in school and tossing some of the crap. And putting it in the big garbage can so that she doesn't notice it in the kitchen trash.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

It was time for me to start my post for tomorrow, and I was griping to hubby that I didn't know what to write about. He looked at me as if I had grown an extra head, and said, "You don't know what to write about for Valentine's Day?". OK, I get the point. Valentine's Day is all about love, and love is the inspiration for all of my Mean Mommy decisions. If I didn't love my kiddo, I would stuff her mouth full of junk food to keep her happy, and then shove her in front of the TV all day to get out of dealing with her. I wouldn't care whether  she got enough fresh fruits and vegetables. I wouldn't make her be clean and groomed and presentable, and I certainly wouldn't waste my time and energy making sure she had cute clothes to wear. If I didn't love my little girl, there wouldn't be framed photos of her all over my house. I would settle for DVDs instead of books, and if she had books, I certainly wouldn't waste my time reading them to her. I wouldn't show her what good manners look like; I would just slap her if she appeared rude. Heck, I'd slap her silly any time she didn't do what I told her to.

Good thing I love my kiddo. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone, and be sure to show your kids how much you love them (even if that means cutting them off when they've had too much sugar).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 10 Mommy Contradictions

Have you ever asked or told your kids to do something only to change your mind and tell them something completely different? Is it any wonder they get confused and drive you nuts?  Happens to me all the time. Here are my Top 10:

1. Share your toys. 
Don't share your toys with her! She just sneezed into her hands!

2. Be nice to everyone.
Stand up for yourself!

3. Sure, you can listen to your CD.
It's too loud! Turn it down!

4. Go play!
Don't make a mess! 

5. Go outside!
Stay away from the street!

6. Be nice to the cat!
Put the cat down!

7. Time for bed!
Get out of bed and brush your teeth!

8. Get ready for your bath.
Don't run through the house naked!  

9. Please feed the dog.
Don't give him that!

10. Get dressed!
You can't wear that

Parenting Now Versus in "The Good Old Days"

Back in the old days (no, I mean way before I was a kid!),  parents were very strict; children were punished for the slightest infraction of the rules. Some of us look back at outdated parenting and criticize those parents for being mean, harsh, even cruel. Other modern moms and dads want to emulate extremely strict parenting ideals--this is a personal choice, of course, but I think it's important to understand where the need for such strict parenting comes from.

I do not claim to be a parenting guru or a historian, just curious; I googled all kinds of variations of the basic question "Why were parents so strict in the past?" and everything that came up had to do with why modern parents are so strict about grades or why parents from certain cultures are strict. The underlying answer is that those parents want their children to be successful (good grades) and/or they want to keep them secure/safe from harm (restricting social media, rules about acceptable clothing, dating, etc). [Having successful kids means that they will have the capability of providing for their parents in the future, which is another kind of security.]

Here is my take on it: many years ago, children were expected to actively contribute to the household and had responsibilities, starting at a young age. Smaller children were required to do chores like weeding the garden or collecting water. As they got older, they were capable of doing more. (Of course, the most fortunate children were able to attend school, and were expected to spend a lot of time on "reading, writing and 'rithmatic".)

If a child didn't do his or her task as expected, he or she was punished. I'm not talking about a time out or a "consequence"; most of the time it was a spanking or some other type of corporal punishment. I think that the objective then, like it is now, was success and security--however, not the success or security of the individual child, but rather the success and security of the family unit.

Think about it: your child goofs around all day instead of collecting water, and there is nothing to drink, nothing to cook with, nothing to wash with. He doesn't shut the gate to the pasture, and you spend all day trying to round up your cows, hoping that something doesn't eat them. She is careless near the kerosene lamp and everything goes up in flames. Your very survival could depend on how you discipline your child.

In the 21st century--at least in a First World country--we don't have to worry so much about our kids jeopardizing our survival. Certainly, we admonish them if they get too close to the stove or fireplace, try to play with sharp objects or anything electrical, or if they unlock the door to the outside, but really, there are all kinds of gadgets we can buy to safeguard us and them against these behaviors. If you don't believe me, check out the catalog One Step Ahead and you will see what I mean.

Modern parenting requires safeguarding our children against a whole different set of dangers. We have to worry about someone else trying to harm our kids, and about them engaging in dangerous activities and harming themselves. Our idea of successful children (good grade, acceptance to the best schools, sports prowess, musical talent) reflects upon us as much as upon them, sometimes more so.

Let's take success out of the equation, since everyone's definition of that word is different. Let's focus instead on our children's security, which in our day and age means protecting them from negative factors, both external and internal. It also means teaching them how to be productive, conscientious, and contributing members of society. This is where Mean Mommy parenting comes in! If we take the time to carefully consider our parenting choices, then this is our end goal, no matter how we word it. The obstacles that might get in our way, the dangers, if you will, are not as obvious as running out of water or letting the cows run amok, but can still derail our kids' futures if we don't teach them what is important.

Finally, going back to the idea of success, if our children do turn out to be productive, conscientious, and contributing members of society, then we will have been successful, and they will have learned how to find their own success.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Might Doesn't Make Right

A large stature can make things easier for a bully; just his size alone may deter anyone from standing up to him. That's why I have to share this story of the kiddo's friend, A, who told a bully in no uncertain terms to leave her alone.

S is  the biggest kid in his Kindergarten class, and I thought he was a nice boy, but apparently he had been giving A a hard time for quite a while. Now, A is petite and sweet and always ready with a hug for my kiddo, but A reached the point where she had to make S leave her alone. So she got him down on the ground, pinned him, and said "Stop being so mean to me!". S was startled, but learned his lesson, and now the two of them are friends. A's mommy is proud of her daughter for standing up for herself, and I have a feeling that, when the time comes, A is going to make a great (mean) mommy.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

An Alternative to "Clean Up Or Else!"

What's a Mean Mommy to do when the kids don't want to clean up? The ladies at Annie's Mailbox have addressed this issue many times, but I especially like how readers have chimed in with their own experiences.

Best one: Honolulu Housewife. Second best: Missouri. But read them all and decide for yourself!

Friday, February 8, 2013

For My Daddy

When I was growing up, my dad smoked. As concerned as I was about his health, my main concern was that I just plain hated the smell. Having to endure that in the house made me furious, so my goal was to make him quit. Rather self-serving of me, I admit, but I figured that getting him to quit would be good for both of us. Telling him that he smelled bad didn't work, so I went a step further: I told him that if he stunk, I wouldn't give him a hug or kiss, and that when he was in the hospital dying of lung cancer, I wouldn't visit him. (This was when I was a teenager, so cut me some slack.) It wasn't a fight between me and my dad, but rather a battle between me and a disgusting chemical addiction with my dad in the middle, so I had to encourage him to join the fight--on the right side, of course. Was that mean of me, or even harsh? Well, it was right around that time that he quit smoking, so as mean as I was, it worked. (See? I have lots of practice being mean.)

Today is the 13th anniversary of the day he died of complications from congestive heart disease, although smoking was not a primary cause of that condition--a minor victory for me, if you can call it that. While I'm sorry for all the nasty teenage behavior and attitude I gave my parents, I don't have any regrets about pushing and yes, bullying my dad to quit smoking. If anyone you love--parent, child, friend--engages in an unhealthy, harmful activity, use your voice and don't be afraid to be mean, as long as it is done with love. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Update: Book Recomendation

A reader mentioned a book that will tell you how to Protect Your Kiddos! It is called Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker and it is available at booksellers like

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Protect Your Kiddos!

As awful as this is to think about, I have to share this post, This goes along with my previous post, More Mean Mommy Duties. Actually, it kind of reiterates what has already been said, by me and a gazillion others, but it is worth repeating ad nauseam if it keeps our kiddos safe.

Mommy Bargaining

Do you ever cave in and allow your kids something just so you can use it as leverage later? It has to be something that is OK for them to have, at least in small amounts or once in a while. For example, I might let the kiddo have a treat at school just so I can claim the last cookie. Or give her the go-ahead to watch TV so that I can claim my right to the same privilege later in the day. I usually phrase it like "well, you did x earlier, so I get to do x now". I could just go ahead and eat the cookie when she is in school or record a TV show and watch it when she is sleeping or at school, but my goal with this approach is to teach her about fairness, and that Mommy deserves a treat once in a while, too.

(Sometimes, though, I treat the kiddo and myself at the same time--like on Monday, we went out for tea/hot chocolate.) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Repo Mom?

The other day, the kiddo came home with a cute folding hair brush. She said that one of her friends gave it to her, and she loves it because it is pink. (I've already written about her aversion to letting a comb or brush anywhere near her hair, so the irony shouldn't be lost on you.) The kiddo herself has given plenty of her own possessions to her friends, things like stickers, jewelry that she has made, and drawings. Some of that stuff--well, I'm happy to see it go. But I got to thinking, what if she gives away something that has real value? She has received nice jewelry from me, her grandmother, her buddy, and my friends--not valuable, but nicer than the gazillions of pieces she makes from one of her kits. Then there are things that I have given her that used to be mine (a Snoopy necklace, a stuffed bunny...). Some of these things are absolutely not allowed to be given away. I'd be pretty steamed if they were even inadvertently misplaced.

So, what would I do if the kiddo did give away something she shouldn't? The first step would be to have her to tell her friend that she made a mistake and shouldn't have given the item away. The second step would be to ask for it back. But...what if the other child didn't want to give it back? Or had given it away or misplaced it? Hopefully, a true friend of my kiddo's would give something back if she asked. Or if I got really mad and asked. Otherwise, I would have to talk to the parent, and this is where I might have a problem. I'd be afraid of being too wishy-washy and come off way too mean and pushy. Kind of like this:

And if that didn't work, I'd have to do this:

So, in the interest of keeping my cool, I need to make sure that the kiddo knows what she is absolutely not allowed to give away. She seems to understand, so I'm hoping I won't have to do this:

Enjoying Kindergarten While it Lasts

1st grade is not that far away, but there is plenty of time to read this and take it to heart:

We can't prevent our kiddos from growing up, but we can reinforce what is appropriate and what is unacceptable--and grit our teeth at the little irritations. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Going 'Round in Circles

Family Track Time at the gym! Ideally, this is for moms with kids in strollers or older kids who want to be fit. However, since today was yet another snow day and my goal was to go to the gym every day this week, there we were. The people who didn't realize that it was Family Track Time and were irritated need to get over it. The other people, however...they either think that I am a super-diligent mommy or a raving maniac. Here's why:

The kiddo was excited and thrilled to go to the upstairs part of the gym and hang out with me and see where I do zumba, kickboxing, etc. She was also a bit out of control--wandering in front of other people, doing cartwheels on the track, stopping in mid-stride to watch the basketball game on the court below...Every 31.8 seconds I was saying something to the effect of "move over!" or "get out of her way!" or "get up!". I thought that one lap around the track was interminable when I was trying to run. Walking with the kiddo was another story entirely. Eight laps later and I was exhausted.

Some good did come out of this adventure, though, and I'm glad we went. First, I met my goal of going to the gym every day this week. The kiddo wasn't bored on her snow day, and she got to see where I spend a lot of my time (and I let her punch the bag--she's got a great hook!). Lastly, the kiddo should get a very good night's sleep.

(And for the record, the cartwheels she did on the track were awesome!)