My children are not the children I thought I would have. For a long time I blamed that on the fact that I was not the parent I imagined. I would see parents in grocery stores or I’d be at friends’ houses and their children would be incessantly trying to get their attention, to no avail. “Mama. Look at me. Mama. Mama. Look at me. Mama.” The endless chatter. I would judge those parents. I would think that if I were so blessed to one day have a child, or two, I would delight in every single thing they said. Everything. I didn’t realize that at the end of a long day, or a long week, or a long month, after work and parenting and dog puke and missed dental appointments, that the 24th time your child says your name, could be 23 times too many.
And other times I absolutely delight in everything they say or do. Yesterday on Veteran’s Day, both kids were off of school but Cassidy had to work. We arranged for him to drop both kids at a friend’s house for a playgroup so I could go to work. Then I came home with both kids and while Des napped, I played with Scarlet for two straight hours. When else do we get two full hours just to play? And it was lovely, and it was also so very Northampton. We were both parents to baby Ariel, the mermaid. Not only was Ariel a mermaid, she was born to two Mamas. Not only was she a mermaid born to two Mamas, but she was sick right after birth because the mother who carried her, Scarlet, scooped cat litter while pregnant. The baby got toxoplasmosis.
It was a little grim with the toxoplasmosis, but mostly, playing with Scarlet was delightful. And I originally thought that parenting would be.. a lot more of that. A heck of a lot more. And what it is is challenging and enthralling. Very frustrating. Sometimes boring. Intimidating. And mostly? It’s work. You can call it the best work of your life, or you could save that title for marriage. Or whatever else you do that is good work. I’m not the parent I thought I would be. And then therefore, they are not the children I thought I would have. In real life and in 3D action, they are even better. Sometimes. We probably all are better. Flawed and broken at times, but the ways we come together are more magnificent than I could have imagined.
Disclaimer: You see, I received a free copy of the book “Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate!” by Deborah Gilboa, MD for review purposes, and because I really wanted this book too!
Reading this book gave me the delightful permission to admit it readily here. I struggle. We all struggle. Parenting is some hard stuff – probably the hardest I know, and may ever know. This book isn’t a magic wand to turn you into the best parent overnight, but it does give you the tools to use methods other than threatening, bribing, yelling, guilting, or any number of other things most of us can admit we do. “Dr. G.” tells us how to use our parenting superpowers for good, to be in charge, and to garner respect AND teach it. If you’re wondering, “What parenting superpowers?” That’s where this book comes in!
There was the time Scarlet was so whiny and I was so fed up, that I told her I didn’t speak whine. I told her I had a hearing issue which rendered me unable to hear voices at such a high-pitched frequency. I suggested she lower her voice so that I wouldn’t have to learn to speak Whine. You know what she did, right? She blinked at me and whined some more.
WWDGD (What would Dr. G do)? She would tell me to repeat Scarlet’s requests and questions back to her in the tone I want. If that didn’t work instantly, we might go back and forth until she lowered her tone. Perhaps I would ask her to whisper.
I actually did read the whole book, but I did it as Dr. G suggested. I read it out of order and while scanning the Table of Contents to the chapters most relevant to me RIGHT NOW. After that, I’d also read the sections on children older than mine because it’s helpful to know what problems and solutions I may encounter and solve within a few short years.
The book deals with teaching children respect, responsibility and resilience and how these three “R’s” will help teach children to grow into confident, successful and self-sufficent adults. I read with interest the chapter about teaching children strong decision-making skills, and the ability to resist peer pressure. Scarlet has a little friend in kindergarten, who joined her one day when she was playing with a second grader on the playground. The second grader told Scarlet to ignore her classmate because she’s “annoying.” Scarlet knew how wrong that was and kept playing with her classmate. Truly, we’re not out of the woods, by any means. Maybe it’s just her very young age and her innocence and the claws will come out when she’s older.
I also read chapters about the top five manners, how to praise your children, and how to take responsibility for hygiene. Diversity was another topic, and I’m happy that my kids are being raised in a town in which it’s not at all unusual for their friends to have two moms, or two dads, or even more. Or to be Democrat or Republican. Or to like the Yankees..
Resilience may have been my favorite section, because I read about age-appropriate ways to share bad news with your children, if need be. I remember that the thought of telling Scarlet that my grandmother, her Nana Jane, had passed away made me too upset. I listened with tears streaming down my face as Cassidy told her. She had a lot of questions about death, and then she decided she wanted to draw a picture for her Nana, my mom, that night.
It’s not always necessary to tell children under eight about bad global news, and we don’t tell my two and five-year-old about school shootings, or war, or murder. I know we will in time, but I’m not in a hurry.
I loved the last section about actually getting your kids to do what you want them to do! After I finished the book, I closed it and said, “What do you know?? A parenting book that actually helps you parent, and see fast results.”