Monday, May 24, 2010

What I know, don't know, and may never know about kids...

Since I got such a positive assessment from part one of my saga, Facts, Falsehoods, and the Undecided, I thought I would report, as promised, on what I have learned about kids and family life. The funny thing is, after I started compiling what I know, I soon realized that there are more things I don’t know, but I'll start with things I do know now.

It’s a given that whenever the whole family goes on a “fun” outing, at least one of the members turns the fun to none, either in the car there, at the event, or in the car ride back

Don’t ever tell your children what the consequence for their bad behavior is while they are in the midst of a tantrum. For some reason I still haven’t learned my lesson on this one, mainly because I have it in my head at the time that if they hear what they are going to lose (I.e. computer time, their action figures, etc.) the tantrum will stop. Silly me...

Emergencies, at least in your child’s eyes, will always occur when you are, A) in the shower, B) on the toilet, or C) naked. Enough said about this one.

A closed door is still an open invitation, so either learn to “lock yourself away” or deal with the many uninvited guests that will appear at the most inopportune moments. And if you leave the door open, expect traffic to flow in and out of the room at a constant pace, even from family members with four legs instead of two. (My dog tends to "trap" me-he won't leave until I've scratched him behind the ears, and only then when he's determined that I have scratched him enough!)

Mom, I’m bleeding,” is generally no cause for alarm- you’ll come flying into the room only to have to poke and prod just to see the tiny scratch. Now when there is no announcement and only blood curdling screams, this is the time to worry.

Expect to be the only one in the household who sees the dirt, water, toys, and etc. on the floor, and expect to have exchanges like the following:
How did all this water get on the floor?”
“What water?”
“In the bathroom.”
“On the floor in the bathroom. Come here… See?”
“Oh yea.”
“Well, how did it get here?”
“I dunno…
” The whole exchange was so exhausting I just wiped it up-you win some, you lose some, and sometimes it just isn’t worth losing your sanity over.

Requests must be specific. For example, if you tell your kids to clean their room, tell them exactly what needs to be picked up, but still expect some miscommunication on occasion-like when I told my son to clean the things out from under his bed and he piled them on his dresser, and when I told him to clean the top of his dresser he piled everything under his bed. My daughter may be older, but she still thinks the same way. I have told her that I don’t want to have to step over anything when I enter her room and that I want to see the floor. So what does she do? She piles everything on her desk, dresser, and bed, but I can see the floor, right?

What I do know is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” consequence when it comes to disciplining children, but what I don’t know is why. I realized this rather quickly with my two, but I sometimes forget and flip-flop in my approach. If I say “Boo” using the look and a stern tone of voice my daughter is crushed, and if she “lost” a toy due to bad behavior, it’s the end of the world-and I’m talking any toy, even if it’s one she hardly plays with anymore. But my son is another story. The look and tone of voice things don’t work on him-he just shrugs it off and goes his merry way. And even though he’s pretty stuff oriented, there is always other stuff he can play with. Once I took his coloring books away for a two-day time out. Later that day he found a couple more and actually brought them to me to put with the others. He may only be seven, but I’m convinced that he is secretly plotting my demise…

There are other things I don’t know, like why I only get grunts and one word answers when I try to talk to my kids when they come home from school, but when I’m in the middle of something like getting dinner ready or when I announce it’s time for bed they want to have in-depth conversations. Here’s a recent conversation with my son as I was trying to type some things up for this post:
“Mom, did you know when you drink water you can here it wobble down there?”

“Yes, I guess so. Are you ready for bed.”

“Yes. Did you know that when you drink too much water and shake back and forth you can hear it splashing?”

“Um, I guess you’re right. Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes. You know I always wanted to know more about a stomach. I mean how does it fit all the food in there and where does it go? Oh, I know where it goes but I don’t want to say cause it turns into brown mushy stuff that you have to get out, but your drink turns yellow. Do you know your drink turns yellow?

“No I didn’t know that. Is that all you wanted to know? It's time for bed.”

“Well, when you’re at a dog show and they pull out the name of the dog that’s the winner, how do they know it’s the winner?”

I just looked at him. “What?”

“Never mind.”

Now he starts shaking his belly. “Can you hear it Mom?”

“I think so…”

“I wonder what would happen if someone punched you in the belly if it was full of water. Would you throw it up?”

I chose to ignore this one and started moving him towards his bedroom door.

Still other things confuse me, like the fact that I have to repeat, that I have to repeat almost everything at least ten times just to be heard. Are kids ears not fully developed until they’re twenty-five, or do their brains have some sort of shut off switch when it comes to negative requests like put your dishes in the dishwasher or brush your teeth?

Then there is my darling husband-his antics confuse me all the time. For instance, washing his pants is like playing the slots-I retrieve at least a handful of nickels, dimes, and quarters out of every load. My first thoughts were that I was earning a little something “back” for doing a chore he could certainly do himself, but now I can’t help wondering if he leaves this change in his pockets on purpose to “pay me” for doing his laundry, and if he does, am I only worth a handful of change? Another downside is that along with the change there are items like pens, stray screws, dirt, and a tissue or two, so maybe he needs to start leaving some green along with the silver just to make it worth my while…

And while my husband does a fare share of things around here, if the task at hand is one he doesn’t want to do, he doesn’t give it his full attention. Take for instance bath time-I usually take charge of our daughter, running the water in the shower, making sure her hair is rinsed, and my husband is in charge of our son. The other day I was kissing my son goodnight after he supposedly (it is entirely questionable how much cleaning did occur) got a shower.

"Your face smells-didn’t daddy help you get a shower tonight?"
"Your face doesn’t smell clean-did daddy wash you."
"No, I did it myself."
"Did you use soap?"
"Yes, soap."
"Um… Yes."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I rubbed it on my face like this and rinsed it."

I rubbed his hair and it felt a little slimy.
"Who did your hair-did daddy?"
"No I did."
"You did?"
"Daddy put the stuff in my hand and I rubbed it around.
" I need to talk to daddy.

Well, there you have it, my take on what you can control and what I consider out of my control when it comes to family. (I had a few more to add about my husband but he saw his name mentioned and keeps looking over my shoulder, so I'll save those for later...Just kidding honey-stop reading my blog!) Goodnight everybody!


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  2. Pretty spot on. However, this is the unwaivering truth. A hard rule of the universe - "emergencies, at least in your child’s eyes, will always occur when you are, A) in the shower, B) on the toilet, or C) naked."

    Take heed readers. There's no getting around this!

  3. Dang. "Don’t ever tell your children what the consequence for their bad behavior is while they are in the midst of a tantrum." I was just hoping that when my 3-year-old got a little older that this would start working. You're telling me that it doesn't? Now what am I supposed to do?

  4. Their questions never end:)Don't they?

  5. HAAAAAAAAAA!!! To everything in this post. You are dead on. Esp. for the in-depth philosophical bedtime conversations. And my favorite? "Emergencies, at least in your child’s eyes, will always occur when you are, A) in the shower, B) on the toilet, or C) naked. Enough said about this one." I agree. I'm not going to tell you about all the naked emergencies I've had to handle. While naked. Of course.

  6. I am positive that I am the only one who sees dirt or stains or dirty clothes on the floor and I am the only one who smells funky smells in the house like dirty dog or dirty diaper. My husband's eyes and nose apparently aren't working.

  7. These are all so true. I always kick myself for telling my two what will happen if they keep acting up and it makes it sooo much worse!

  8. My kids like to flood my bathroom counter daily. As soon as they come out, they walk by me like nothing happened. They will say to me, "It's not THAT MUCH water!" Sure...

  9. All of these are totally true. I can't sit down at the computer without an audience or someone asking a question. My girls are supposed to do dishes every night, this has stood for 3 years. If I don't direct them to it the dishes will sit and they will say,"but you didn't tell us to". The only reason they are not behind me right now is because they are washing the dishes they didn't do last night. And the other day my husband decided to wash his own stuff, which means it sat in the washer after the cycle was over, until I needed it. After I put his things in the dryer I handed him his shiny clean drill bit. Someone is coming down the stairs I need to hide now : )

  10. You are The Speaker of Truth with each and every point made here, except the change in the laundry thing for me--my husband never has two coins to rub together, so I have to work for free. ;)


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