16 June 2008

In a tough world, you get first shot at your kids

Do either of these exchanges from this morning make me a bad parent? I'm often struck by that thought after I let loose some of my initial reactions to things.

D- (walking into the room first thing this morning): Hi Daddy, can you make me something to eat?
Me (coughing like I just pried open a dusty old crypt): Whoa, we need to brush your teeth!

This was my gut reaction-- I couldn't acquire enough untainted oxygen to come up with a "Hey, let's go get cleaned up for the day first!" or something else innocuous.

M- (after reaching up, opening a kitchen drawer, inserting her finger, and deliberately closing the drawer): Oww! Fin-gerrrr!!*
Me: Yes, 'Ow, finger!' indeed. We've been down this road before, many times. (I find it amusing to speak this way to a 17-month-old, on occasion.)

Disclaimer: She closed the drawer pretty slowly, and she seemed to be expressing less pain than disappointment (bafflingly so) with the result of her experiment. She got over it in a second.

On a similar note, I haven't yet gotten around to writing a manifesto of my parenting philosophies, but this morning I found out I don't have to. The folks at The Art of Manliness (a great site, by the by) have done it for me:

Quit Coddling Your Kids

The only tweaks I can think of offhand after reading this a couple hours ago are that, as seized upon by some people in the comments, they don't mention much if anything about being appropriately supportive of your kids or consistently telling them that you love them. I think they just forgot that since the focus is more on people who insulate their children from everything negative whenever possible, especially by blindly supporting every choice and action, whether selfish, hateful, or otherwise ill advised.

One of the comments mentions world-proofing your child instead of child-proofing his or her world. That just sums it all up perfectly-- it needs to become a new proverb.


Natalie said...

well...the brush your teeth comment made me laugh. i have never thought about it honestly...saying it in a nicer way. i mean i don't say it like i am about to die...just more of a matter of fact kinda thing. i guess i should take notes. it is better to say...why don't you go get cleaned up first. ok...we'll see how i do tomorrow!

Kori said...

If that makes you a bad parent, then I am screwed. I tell my kids to go brush their teeth or take shower because they stink; no sense sugar coating it. And when my now 14 year old son went through a period where he didn't ever shower, I told him that it would be his fault if he never got a girlfriend because he smelled bad. It worked. As for the coddling your kids? Love the new proverb, since that is how I feel. I believe in expressing unconditional love, and giving praise when praise is due, but I refuse to save my kids from natural consequences of their choices. We aren't talking ignoring basic safety or allowing them to run rampant, but really, how much are we supposed to protect our kids from reality? I think we are doing our kids a great disservice if we do that. I have four; the oldest is 15.5, the youngest is 2. And if the baby falls down, I tell him,"oops!" and we move on; if he is crying, of course I look at it and see if he needs help, but for the most part I just keep it matter of fact; and usually if he falls doing the same thing more than once, he learns. The rest of life is the same wya, I think. And I didn't mean to go on and on, but I feel pretty strongly about this one.

cathouse teri said...

I think we're in need of a Depression. ;)

Kevin McKeever said...

You were far too easy on the stinky breath. Stop by and get a whiff of my daughter's feet after two days of wearing the same socks. There's no polite way around those things, LD.

SherE1 said...

What sucks is when you get the comments BACK from your child about stinky breath or stinky ANYTHING. Not that I would know or anything. I just heard that it sucks. You know. From my husband.

Mama Dawg said...

I'm going to read that post right now.

No, I think your responses were fine. You should hear some of the ones I think of for my daughter.

Anonymous said...

You're not a bad parents, you're 'give a shit' may just be broken. It's okay...mine crapped out long ago. I always talk to my kids like that...even the baby. She just coos so I can get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Is it bad that when my 17-month-old throws a temper-tantrum, I look at him and laugh, telling him that mommy can do one oh-so-much better?

I've also been known to plug my ears, and walk out of the room saying, "that just hurts mommy's ears."

I think it is called life.

MsPicketToYou said...

after Giant 4 Year Old had been a total PAIN IN THE ASS to me and his two siblings, he tripped out the back door and totally bit it. I said, "Karma. It's a bitch."

I'm sorry about the "bitch" remark but not much else.

So, yeah, don't worry about it.

And PS: I did pick him up and kiss him afterwards because I am THAT GOOD.

Robin said...

Congrats on your Best Daddy Blog award!

Looks I'm goin down in flames with you then..My exchanges are pretty similiar with the exception that, in my house, they tend to revolve around bodily functions..blachhh..

LiteralDan said...

Natalie: Maybe it's just my guilty conscience, then.

Kori: I like that you called your son out on the showering thing-- I have found quite a few people who need that service. And it sounds like we totally agree on parenting, which is always reassuring.

cathouse teri: I love this comment-- it's the kind of potentially shocking/offensive blanket statement I love to make. That being said, I think we may be unfortunately getting your wish soon, or at least something close to it.

Always Home and Uncool: I think I'll respectfully pass on your offer. I guess I was just thrown off my normal rhythm since in my experience, little kids' breath doesn't usually suffer the same fate as adults' overnight.

SherE1: Yeah I'm surprised I haven't gotten that more often, given how often I put off showering till the afternoon. My saving grace thus far is that I honestly thought D- might be anosmic (look it up-- it's a great vocab word) until one time he correctly informed us that M- had filled her diaper, just a couple months ago. So at best, he has a horrible sense of smell or at least doesn't care about good smells or bad.

Mama Dawg: Well now I wanna-- start collecting them and post some!

MamaNeena: J- and I both loved this concept-- we may have to adopt it ourselves. I do often like to both amuse myself and teach my kids to reach higher by raising the level of discourse when lecturing or teaching them.

RC: No, it's not bad, it's just the way things go some days. I also take the edge of the kids' crying and screaming sometimes with the old "you're hurting everyone's ears/disturbing everyone". It works surprisingly well.

Ms Picket To You: Kids have to learn about karma sometimes, right? Best when they're young.

Robin: Thanks! Bodily functions are definitely a regular topic of discussion, humor, and arguments around these parts as well. I've stopped noticing it anymore.

Leslie said...

1. Thanks for the visit and comments. I love comments.

2. These do not make you a bad parent. I actually do fake fainting spells over one of my kids' breath. (Sometimes it could actually make me lose consciousness.) And I firmly ascribe to the belief that one is never too young for sarcasm.

LiteralDan said...

You're most welcome-- I saw you at The Wind In Your Vagina and figured I would stop by. Thanks for coming by here!

Ooh, a fainting spell, ay? I should take some notes for next time. And my kids were baptised in sarcasm before they could talk, so I'm totally with you on that. I can't help it-- it's who I am.

Maria Melee said...

Hey! Thank you for the comment. Your boy-kid looks a lot like my boy-kid. It's creepy, they could definitely be siblings.

I love the Backyardigans. It's shameful. S was watching the Secret Of Snow the other day and I'm all batshit hormonal and I got weepy over the happy little snow alterative end credits. Yikes.

LiteralDan said...

Maybe they don't just look alike, but rather it's the next wave of the Children of the Corn, after they learned their lesson and made kids instead with nondescript brown hair and eyes inside of icy blonde and blue.

Those Backyardigans have some damn catchy tunes, I tell you what.

Allison Rankin said...

Great blog...thanks for "keeping it real"! Which, BTW, is something I tell my son all the time when I say things about his behavior or personal appearance. Now when he makes up a story (he's five...it's what he does) and I call him on it, he tells me he's just "keeping it pretend". Ha!

LiteralDan said...

I love that-- he sounds like my son with his distinctions between real and pretend. You'd think that once you have such a grasp of the difference, the imagination would go away, but no, it's still rarin' to go.

Now you just have to get him to come up with a rap featuring him shouting about the importance of Keepin' it pretennnnnnnnd".