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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Stop the Excuses!

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Here is a blogpost I had written a while back for another blog I had started called “Your Child Sucks”. It was going to be a blog with a bunch of posts on things I’d see happen at stores, school and the park…then I decided I’d make a lot of enemies that way and went a different direction; but that doesn’t mean I can’t share just ONE of my posts from that blog. 😉

‘Stop the excuses!’

With entitlement and disrespect in the upcoming generations being so prevalent over the past decade or two, I feel I might have an answer as to what the cause is; YOU. The only question I have is WHY do you allow it?

So many parents have this need to care too much about their child’s feelings. I know it might sound awful to some of you, but I seriously believe that it’s ok to not ALWAYS get down on their level and explain in a loooooooong drawn out way why they shouldn’t do something. Best response to ill-behavior should sometimes simply be “Cut it out!” or “Knock it off!” “Do it again and you go to your room; or can’t watch cartoons later; or won’t get to go to the park after lunch…etc, etc.” Then follow through.

All too often I hear parents saying, “I’m so sorry about ‘so and so’ being crabby (more like a mean jerk). I had her running errands with me all day. And she’s probably hungry. Poor baby.” No, not poor baby. She’s 4 and has some self control. Your child is being horrible to mine and not only are you giving her excuses (in front of her, mind you) but you aren’t even correcting the behavior. What irks me the most is when a parent gives excuses IN FRONT OF the child making them interpret in their heads, “Ya mom, it’s YOUR fault I’m acting like a brat. Now I can continue without getting in trouble.” Cue more rudeness. Glad my kid is the punching bag to your child’s intense hunger pains and fatigue. My thoughts: she was rude and impolite last week AND the week before. Excuses always being, “She’s hungry,” or “She’s tired.” Same excuse, same behavior.

I understand that kids have an “off” day here and there and my kids are no exception. The problem is allowing the mood that they’re in to have power over everyone around them.  My kids have absolutely been little turds at get togethers, but they ALWAYS got called on it with a consequence to follow, which is usually to go to their room until they can act nicely to their friends. It’s just not something that should be ignored and left for them to “work it out”. You treat someone badly or you talk rude to an adult, you should get corrected on the spot because it’s just not okay. I’m sorry, but I’ll intervene as much as possible when my kids are little; ESPECIALLY if it’s a consistent thing that never seems to be addressed by the other parent. In my experience it’s usually the parents who say, “I just think we should let them work it out themselves,” is usually the parent of the child who has the consistently rude behavior. Or better yet, they say something pertaining to “Let me figure out a way to make my child happy.

A great example is the whole “SHARING” policy amongst everyone these days. I am not a fan of it. at. all. Not that I don’t think sharing is a valued lesson that people should know and practice, but to expect sharing at all moments is ludicrous. If there are 50 things to play with and my son is playing with something, why should he have to “share” with your child? They don’t need to take turns just because your child wants, therefore he gets. No ma’am! Your son can go find one of the other 49 toys and stop throwing a fit to get his way. Situation from the not too distant past: We were at an acquaintances house who had a ride on toy. Actually not one, but three. So Roman chose one and wouldn’t you know, her child wanted THE SAME ONE! Go figure! Since it was not my house, I let the mom decide how the rules were going to go. She decided to give each child two minutes and take turns. Um, WHAT?!? There are two other ride along toys and my son had this one first. It was so lame. She literally kept time and after the two minutes were up, he had to get off. Well that caused more of an issue when her child didn’t want to give it up after their allotted two minute turn. Because of the ridiculousness of the situation, I just told Roman to ride on one of the others, so he did.

Here is another “fun” true story. This was a while back and no, it’s not anyone I still have contact with and that’s the only reason why I’m sharing the experience of this “playdate”:

“My sweet ‘Susie’ has had a really long day of running errands with me so I’m sorry if she isn’t playing nicely with Carissa. This is very out of character for her and it must be because I took her to a doctor’s appointment, Target AND to get the car washed.”  In reality, this is what she needs to say, “I’m aware she is throwing the toys, crossing her arms, ignoring your child and stomping off when she doesn’t get her way, but if I just blame myself and ignore her, maybe you will too.” I can’t. Sorry.  But you can continue making excuses if it makes you get through this tough job of parenting. The funniest part was this comment, “Plus, she had a donut and that always makes her act a know…(lol) crazy!” Yes, I do know that sometimes my kid can act a fool, but you better believe that you won’t hear me apologize and make excuses for their rude behavior and inability to play normal with your kid. If my child was acting like this, he’ll be in his room until he feels he can gather his freaking emotions and not torment your child bc of his “exhaustion” and/or sugar intake.
My thoughts this whole time: What was your ‘sweet Susie’s excuse last week? Or the week before? All I know is you need to still put her down for a nap and feed her more because she is hungry and tired a lot.  I don’t believe for a minute that your child is this magically kind, respectful and gracious little girl the moment she gets a granola bar and a nap in her.
The funny thing is, when offered a snack at my house she crossed her arms, made a scrunchy face and said, “I don’t WANT fruit! Mommy, I don’t want any fruit! I just want my peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bar!” Cue ridiculous parenting: “Well sweetheart, Serena (That’s Miss Serena or Mrs. Heuser to a child, thank you!) doesn’t have any of those, but what about a cereal bar? Or maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?” “NO! I WANT MY GRANOLA BAR!” As I pretend to not pay attention, the mom looks in my pantry in a panic to find something that her daughter might not freak out over. “Do you mind?” she asks me. I feel like saying “Yes, I mind. Not you looking in my pantry, but of showing my kids who are eating FRUIT that they might have had an option….which then I have to reiterate to them that THEY DON’T and they eat what I give them or they don’t get anything.” But instead, I bite my tongue and nod my head while my face is burning bc this is not the first time it’s happened. “What about popcorn?” Kid shakes her head. “Graham crackers?” shakes head. “Do you have any cheese sticks? She LOVES cheese sticks.” “Yes, I have some.” Hands the mom a cheese stick to give to her. ‘Sweet Susie’ uncrosses her arms, lights up in the face and says “CHEESE STICK!  I get to eat a cheese stick!” as she then shows my kids her special snack in a teasing manner, while mom looks adoringly at her little girl.  I felt like saying, “You’re welcome! Now go home!”

But these situations always provide me with a nice teaching tool for my kids. I have no problem using other kids as examples of how NOT to act. “Did you see the way Susie acted? When you go to someone’s home, you eat what you’re given with no questions. Do you understand? I don’t care one bit that Susie ended up getting her way, she’s not my child and that’s her mom’s problem to deal with.” Even if they don’t act perfect at someone else’s house, at least I’ve addressed it and if I find out they weren’t respectful about the food provided I know that they knew better, which makes it easier to give them a consequence or a lecture afterwards.

Now I’m going to reiterate this part because I don’t want anyone expecting perfect behavior from my kids at all times because that JUST AIN’T HAPPENIN’!  My kids aren’t perfect, but I’ll be damned if they speak to an adult disrespectfully or treat your child poorly. That is on the top of my priority list of raising a good child.  Every so often they might test their tone of voice with me, but I’d much rather it happen in the home than test it with another parent, teacher, or any other adult we come in contact with because at least I can address it immediately. To hear the way some children speak to adults (sometimes to me) in front of their parents is horrifying! I wish I had the cojones to say in front of those moms, “It’s not okay to talk to me that way,” but it’s so hard when they’re standing right there as if it’s not a big deal. Well it is to me and I know to many other adults standing around. The thing is, I wouldn’t blink an eye at the disrespect as long as the parent said something. Anything! Just don’t stand there and allow it.

I’ve said my peace; for now. 🙂


Just call me Olive Oyl…everybody else does

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     I’m going to watch the documentary ‘Bully’ at some point over the weekend and after viewing the trailer it sparked so many emotions. We can all think back to junior high and high school and remember someone who was less than decent and at times downright cruel. Right? Or was I one of those rejects that got teased more than others? I was nothing but kneecaps and elbows, big feet, buck teeth and with no boobs to compensate. I was a sight that gave sore eyes. 😉 But it still didn’t give anyone the right to call me “bones”; thanks Pete for that creative name. “Skeletor”, “Stick-figure”, “Gumby” and my all time (least) favorite “Olive Oyl”. If I was wearing shorts, walking to the teacher’s desk was my living nightmare with my heckler whispering his hurtful names to me as I passed him. It made me so upset one day that I teared up and ran out of the room to ball my eyes out in the bathroom.  That was 8th grade.

There wasn’t a day that went by where someone wouldn’t comment on my chicken legs; and I’m not kidding it went as follows, “Oh my gosh Serena, look at how skinny your legs are!! Eew!” “You need to eat a cheeseburger and gain some weight. You’re TOO skinny!” Way to boost my ever deflating self-esteem you guys!

     What I always dreamed of saying back to them was, “Screw off you fatty magoo!” or “Your one to talk, pizza face!” Can you believe the reason why I couldn’t say those things was because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings? What the heck kind of a raw deal was that? You say something mean to me, I should feel 100% ok to say something cruel right back, don’t ya think? Well, not the case. Even moving out of state (unrelated to this) didn’t save me from the ridicule and so I went through my Sophomore and Junior year of high school very rarely wearing anything but pants or long skirts because I was so embarrassed of my sticks that carried me through the hallways wondering if there was anyone staring at them disgusted. I know, my self-esteem was pretty pathetic.

Volleyball pic Sophmore year. Still no clue why I chose that position for my hands for our yearbook pic!! How embarrassing! lol

First day of my Senior year at a new school. Check out THOSE guns! 😉

On to another city my Senior year (fun times!) I finally said, “Who cares?!” So I wore shorts and skirts and felt a little bit better about myself because I did start to fill in around the joints and bones making me feel less awkward. Yes, this was all at 17; total late bloomer! Not to say the comments stopped completely, but I got a bit better at recognizing the source. It was usually a jerk who was rude to just about everyone and didn’t have a lot of friends. Same thing back in 8th grade, I just didn’t know any better.

Now, as Tom and I are raising our kids it’s a whole other ballgame. Not only do we have to worry about our kids being bullied (yes, it happens this young), but we have to make sure they never become the bullies. I am always questioning my daughter about this little boy in her class who is a tad awkward and will probably be the target for cruelty in the next couple of years. “Does he have friends?” “If he’s alone on the playground, you should ask him to play with you!” Fat chance, mom, is probably what she is saying on the inside; I mean, what the heck do I expect from my 6 year old daughter? To start a movement at school making fellow 6 year olds find a loner and befriend them? Don’t worry, I just offer the idea to her, I don’t really expect it to happen. I just want to plant the seed so maybe one day she might act on it.

For a book exchange at school I thought it was a book donation and sent Carissa with a bunch of old Dora ‘Learn to Read’ books. When I got word it was a classroom exchange I laughed and asked her if anyone wanted her books. She said yes and it was the boy aforementioned. She said she, along with two others, were asking him if he still liked Dora. She said no one was being mean, but were just asking him. I immediately said, “Hold up. Why else would he have chosen the Dora books if he didn’t like them? Do you think he might have felt you guys were making fun of him?” “No mom, he said his mom still makes him watch her show.” “Probably not the case, Carissa. I don’t think he would have chosen those books with several to choose from if he didn’t really want them. And you know what, he probably went home and was not as excited to read them as he would have been had you kids not said anything.” She agreed and all was well, but I made sure she REALLY understood that if some of the kids in class were poking fun at the books she chose, it probably wouldn’t make her feel very good. Great. My job was done making my kid feel bad while once again keeping someone else’s feelings in tact. lol Not really, but now maybe she’ll think twice when something like that arises again. What makes me feel better is knowing that she’ll never be the bully. I’m sure parents of bullies would have either 1. Never asked. 2. Laughed alongside their child teaching them that it’s okay to make someone feel bad for no reason.

However, I do struggle with the fine line between initiating cruelty and defending oneself. Such as when the kids were calling me names, why did I care so much about their feelings; they sure as heck didn’t care about mine? I should have been able to say a thing or two to make them know they were no prize either, but instead I cried. Why did I always freaking cry, dangit?!?  And so I continue to make my kids understand the idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes all while I’m still learning to not raise ultra-sensitive kids who crumble at every negative comment made to them, like myself at that age. It sure isn’t easy trying to raise kids with solid character AND a backbone these days.