Day 4: one step forward, two steps…

Laura and (un)relaxeddad chimed in on yesterday's discussion with some interesting thoughts:

Laura wrote:

See, now
… that's what we realized we didn't want. The adversarial
relationship with our kids. I mean, in a relationship like that, the
parents always have the power. It's just a matter of choosing your
weapons. Power always "works" to change the behavior — when little
power doesn't work, things escalate to Big Power, but power always wins.

Yes, in the most fundamental way the parents have all the power.  And it's not just a function of having the advantages of age, money and experience. The real power is the emotional power that comes with the parental territory. Our kids have no choice but to need us desperately and love us passionately.  And it is my children's vulnerability to my power that makes me want to choose my battles wisely and with care. Whenever I feel really powerful, I try to remember that a battle between a parent and a child is never a fair fight.

A long time ago, when Youngest was in Second grade, he filled out a little questionnaire for a Mother's Day present devised by his (blessed) teacher.  It said, "there are a million reasons why I love you.  Here are five…"

The first thing he wrote, in his so-careful second grade hand was, "You know what is OK and what is not OK."

This power, the power to know what is OK and what is not OK, this is the place I like to parent from.  In this instance, I am absolutely sure that it is not OK for the boys to carelessly litter a communal floor with their personal detritus.  Working from that knowledge, and if I inject a little patience into the process (not my forte, in case you hadn't noticed), I think the lesson will find itself learned.

(un)relaxeddad was wondering about the utter lack of communication around the whole issue:

It kind
of gets you to the same place but what if they just plain haven't
noticed? Or maybe they've put it down to the tidy elves…?

I'm pretty sure they have moved past the elf stage, but they may well not have noticed ANYTHING.  Being the only woman in a house full of testosterone has made me quite aware that things that I value can have zero meaning to the men in my life.  Reminds me of the time we all got in the car to go snowboarding. When we were all piled in and ready to go, I turned around to the boys in the back seat and said brightly, "We have five hours!  What are we going to talk about?"

Dead silence.  One beat.  Two beats. Then Oldest broke the news to me gently.

"Mom," he said, "this is a road trip.  We don't talk."

Back to the dilemma at hand. We are now on Day 4 and the morning photo, taken just after they leave for school, revealed this:

P1020061 

P1020062

The good news is that someone is still reading The Week, which is a significant step up.  The bad news is self-evident, right?

Since I'm underparenting this dilemma, I confined my reactions to a)one silent, internal "WTF?!!?" and b)picked up the magazine and tossed it in the recycling. Note to self: only put out-of-date reading material in the boys' bathroom.

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19 thoughts on “Day 4: one step forward, two steps…

  1. Amazing, isn’t it? I think anything on the floor, they just don’t see. I think it may be because we have taught our children to always hold their heads up high (in any situation) and as a result, they can’t see the floor.
    The city-girl daughter just keeps telling me I am “ridiculous” when I ask her to please, please get things off the floor.

  2. Whenever I ask, “Why, why can’t they chew with their mouths closed, clean up after themselves, be considerate,” their father likes to chime in…”Because they’re kids.”
    And always, I turn to him and say, “Then what’s your excuse?”

  3. I frequently threaten to scatter kitty litter on the floor of my sons’ bathroom. Your boys’ reading material is certainly a step up from the kitty litter.
    ‘Way back in grade school my son had a male teacher whose mother was so disgusted with the situation in her triplet sons’ bathroom that she removed the toilet seat. They had to come and ask her permission to borrow the seat. Now THAT’s ueberparenting!
    Btw re: war games: “Defcon” stands for “defense condition.”

  4. The Girl finally has her own room and all of a sudden, she’s totally responsible for putting away her own clothes – which she hasn’t been doing. So it’s been a struggle to respond to this respectfully AND still get her to put her own clothes away….

  5. So is this what I have to look forward to in ten years with my boys? Right now we have one bathroom for the five of us (interesting with a potty-training little one) and the reading material ranges from Brain, Child mag (mine), Graham Greene’s short story collection (hubby’s), Dr. Seuss’s ABC and Molly:The Goldfish Fairy (boys’). Of course, stepping on that toy seaplane on the tub floor when showering in the early AM is no lovely matter…

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