Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"I'm sorry, you must have my child confused with someone else."

"What's going on here, Mom?" my 7-year-old daughter asks in a commanding voice.

Frankly, I'm intrigued that's she noticing a change so quickly.

You see, earlier this week I started reading a book entitled, How to Have a New Kid by Friday.

Don't get me wrong. I love my kids and don't really want new ones (well, if the new ones came with owners manuals and big bars of chocolate, maybe...) but I admit I've had my moments when I was ready to pack 'em up and ship 'em off to anyone who would take them.

Simply put: I can't handle the attitude.

When they're little, it's the tantrums and the whining. When they start school they get tired, cranky and apparently lose the ability to communicate like a human being. When they're elementary age, they begin to believe they know everything. At every stage, however, they think they are the BOSS.

Of course they're nearly angelic for anyone else in authority. School teachers report a well-behaved student working hard to meet or exceed expectations. Sunday School teachers rave about how well they get along. Mothers from birthday parties comment about their good manners.

Huh?!? Where's that kid?

I get the one who forgets how to use a fork at virtually every meal, and can't seem to eat over their plate even if it were 3 feet in diameter.

I get the one whose photo is next to "sibling rivalry" in the dictionary, finding just the right action to completely set off World War III on a daily (or hourly) basis.

I get the one who refuses to take responsibility for their actions, and works hard to meet or exceed the pathetic excuse from 2 hours ago of why it "truly wasn't their fault."

So yes. When I saw the title of the book, I was more than just a bit curious.

And guess what? The book makes a lot of sense, and I understand why it can work.

So I begin implementing "the plan" the author proposes. And I have to admit, it is kind of refreshing.

Instead of a morning of exasperation and fits, there are boundaries.

Instead of time-outs and idle threats, there are loving responses.

Instead of a day filled with fights and screaming, well, there's still fights and screaming...but I'm handling it differently than I ever have. And it seems to be working.

We had a very tough day, but toward the end I think perhaps we achieved something...a desire to make tomorrow a better day. Genuinely better.

I'm not expecting my children to morphe into little cherubs with these parenting techniques, but I'd like to think we're on the road to recovery...recovery from a world where I felt so out of control that I had given up hope that parenting could be any different.

Because when my daughter asked that question, I felt like I was doing something right. And that maybe, just maybe, things were going to be okay.

And maybe...just maybe...

I'll recognize that kid their teachers rave Friday.

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