Post Title: The Mama Mafia If there's one thing I've learned from the Mafia and the Supernanny, you gotta demand respect. It's the key to effective parenting. So when my three-year-old spit on me, I had to take action. Here's how it went down.
Elizabeth has a lot of good ideas. Asking me to carry her on my shoulders after a long day of work was not one of them. She doesn't take "no" very easily, and when I insisted that I would not be carrying her on my shoulders, she spit on my shirt. She thought it was cute. I didn't.
No doubt about it, I'd been dissed, and this needed immediate correction. I briskly took her to the car, put her in her car seat, and said in a calm voice, "I do not like that. You will not spit on my shirt. That was not nice."
She giggled at the frothy spittle on my shoulder. Once again, my attempt at a cool, icy demeanor had failed. But, something told me that threatening a time-out wouldn't work either. We wouldn't be home for nearly an hour, and I wanted to fix the problem now.
Then a light bulb clicked on.
"Fine," I said coolly. "I'm going to wipe it off on your dress."
This was a gamble. There was a 50/50 chance she wouldn't care and would just laugh at me again. But to my delight, there was genuine concern in her eyes. I knelt down and pulled out my shirt to wipe it onto her dress. She struggled in her seat and started to cry, "No! Don't get my dress dirty!"
The closer I got, the more she struggled. Tears welled in her eyes. Her expression turned into genuine terror. I started to falter.
God, what kind of mother am I, wiping spit on my little girl?
No! I shook myself out of it. Mobsters can't afford self-doubt. I'm sure the Supernanny knows that small children smell self-doubt on a parent a mile away. I persisted despite her shrieks and, shielding myself from her kicks, wiped the dreaded spittle onto her dress.
Then I calmly closed the car door and sat in the front seat. She continued to cry. I continued to console myself. My husband and our other daughter waited.
When the wailing died down, I explained why I did what I did:
"I didn't like it when you spit on me. You didn't like it when I wiped it on you. But, I did that to show you what it was like."
"I didn't like that, Mommy!"
"I know. But here's the deal. I promise I won't wipe spit on you again. But you will not spit on me ever again, either. Do you understand?"
She wiped her tears. "Yes."
"I love you, sweetie."
Within minutes, she and her sister were singing songs, making up stories, and talking about going back to Disneyland. Most importantly, respect was restored -- respect for Mommy and respect for self. Just call me "Icy Mama."
Post Date: May 7, 2007
Post Title: There Is No Karma for Parents I hate it when I do something mean as a parent. The other night, as I put the girls to bed, my oldest resisted. I told her she couldn't keep playing this game (this is a nightly ritual) and that she had to stay in bed. Of course, she started to follow me out, so I raced to the door. She was right on my heels as I got to the door. My thoughts were focused, you stay...mommy free. I weaseled out the door and slammed it behind me. Right in her little face. There was no contact, but the look of pain on her face will be imprinted on my brain forever.
It didn't take long for me to feel like shit, and in case I didn't feel like shit, she came out to remind me. Sobbing, she looked right into my eyes and told me how I'd hurt her feelings. Again and again, she told me. "You hurt my feelings! You hurt my feelings!" I picked her up and rocked her in the rocking chair, and I told her I was really, really sorry.
"I'm really tired tonight, sweetie, and I read to you for 30 minutes before bedtime. It's already really late, and my throat is sore." She didn't look convinced, so I tried some honesty.
"Sometimes you guys wear me out. You've been very demanding tonight...asking me to get things for you constantly, and I just needed a break." She still wasn't convinced, and I still felt horrible.
Finally, with tears and snot running down her face, she looked at the nice black Gap Perfect T I was wearing and wiped her entire face on the front of it. Then she started to giggle, and I knew that her pain was almost over.
After laughing and kissing and making up, I finally put her to bed an hour past her normal bedtime. I still felt bad, though. I was still sad when I went to bed, so it's no surprise that I didn't sleep well and had nightmares. When I awoke the next morning, I thought, "Okay, this is the karma for being so mean. I had really horrible nightmares, and this is my punishment." But then I realized that I didn't feel any better -- I got my karmic slap, but I still felt bad.