Parenting pitfalls

Last night, after our oldest son shipped himself off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house nearly three hours away, we decided to watch “Parental Guidance” after the twins were tucked in bed for the night.
(P.S. I say “shipped himself” because he actually wanted to get away during his Spring Break, and frankly, I didn’t have any fun activities planned.)
So, anyways, the movie is about an uptight mom who asks her parents to “grandparent-sit” her three children while she and her husband go away on a much-needed vacation. The grandparents are played by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler (Bette and I go way back to our “Beaches” day … so she has a soft spot in my heart) who try to follow their daughter’s way of parenting, until it slaps them in the face.
Instead of telling her children “NO” or “Don’t DO that …” she asks her children, “What would the consequences be if …” or “What are your OTHER options?”
In my opinion, asking my children, “What would the consequences be if you smack your sister one more time” would be pointless. Plus, frankly, that is way too many words to spit out when they are testing my patience. A quick, “NO” and “the look” typically does the trick around here. And when that doesn’t work, I usually just announce, “I am telling your DAD!” – that worked tonight when Derek refused to take his bath.
As for the “other options” – again, not going to ask this stupid question to a 4-year-old who hasn’t thought that far ahead. “I can either smack Katie or play with my toys. Let’s see what one my mom will enjoy the most … smack Katie is the winner!”
We also have a sticker chart that looms over their heads … the more stickers they get, the quicker they are to getting a prize in the prize box. You can call it bribery. I call “IT WORKS! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
When the twins were born, my parents came to help out and often offered their own “parenting suggestions.” At one point, they had so many, we decided to “toss them into the suggestion box.” Is there really such a box sitting on my counter? Hell no. But, whenever my parents have a “suggestion” on what we “should” do now, I tell them I will “toss it in the box.” It’s a nice way of telling them, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Granted, there are times they are still right – plenty in fact. But sometimes, we just need to pretend.
Here’s a list of things that I do, or my husband does, that I know annoy my parents:
1. I make my oldest son’s bed. It’s one piece of bedding. His bedroom is basically in the middle of the house. I am OCD and I prefer to have it made nicely that way when people walk into our house, they don’t see a disaster area and set off an alarm. “CODE RED. WE HAVE A CODE RED. WE CANNOT SEE THE FLOOR IN THE FIRST BEDROOM.”
2. We play “the airport” at night. This is actually a sound machine and all of the kids have one in their room. It’s NOT used to put them to sleep; it’s used to DROWN out the noise from the loud family members who are still up after the kids go to bed. I know it’s annoying, but so is having a kid come emerge from their room every 5 minutes telling us we are loud.
3. We make the oldest his breakfast. I “think” this annoys them on some level because another family member asked me “Who gets his breakfast?” Well, here’s the thing, yes, I make his breakfast some mornings because if I didn’t the boy would eat Pop Tarts EVERY.SINGLE.MORNING. And, he hates cereal (by the way, I HATE cereal too …), so there are times I “make” him pancakes (via the microwave). But yes, I am starting to agree he can do more of this himself. The same goes for helping make his school lunches. Since he insists on packing “every day for the rest of the school year” he minds well par-take in this festival I call “I HATE PACKING LUNCHES!” every morning.
I know there have been other suggestions over the years that I have “tossed” into the box, but they must not have been that great, because I don’t remember what they are at the moment.
The point is, we all parent differently. All parents screw up because not one set of parents is perfect.
And that is one suggestion perfect for the box – “TRY YOUR BEST. NO ONE IS PERFECT. TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.”