Things between T-Bird and I are… not so good. I basically refused to respond to her e-mail, especially around the anniversary of the death of her daughter, 11 years ago. I called her yesterday to tell her I’d been thinking of her and Little T.
I guess that might have gone okay had she not taken her digs by saying, “Well, at least when my kids do something wrong, they get in trouble.” This is her whole problem with me and Nate, that I don’t discipline him the way she wants or when she says so or for her reasons, not mine.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but when children are together and separated from the parents of said children, all children involved will point the finger at the other children when things go wrong. So, I ask you, other parents, what is your first inclination? A) Believe the other children B) Believe only yours or C) Try to determine what actually happened?
Also, parents, when involved with children of different age groups it is common sense not to allow older children to pick on or hurt younger children. However, if the younger children, say in the 3-6 age group jump on the older children 9-12 years of age and hurt them, would you expect your child to A) come and tell an adult B) Take it because they’re older or C) Retaliate. Now, lets forget what we would all like to happen and tell me in your experience what actually does happen.
Then, parents, I want you to tell me what its like when other people tell you how to raise your children. I want you to tell me what its like when they make negative comments about your parenting style or your parenting skills. Then I want you to tell me what it feels like when they tell you how horrible your child is and how they would raise him/her differently because they don’t agree with your parenting style and they obviously could do so much better. And, I want this to all happen after they spend a grand total of 3 hours a month with your child, if that.
My son’s triumphs and not so glowing moments have been chronicled here. He’s not an easy child, he’s a very complex child, with multiple facets. How and when I decide to discipline him is my business. Only in extreme cases does he respond to a good old-fashioned spanking. He’s gotten plenty and I figure he’ll have a few more and I’ve popped him in the mouth a few times for sassin’ me.
However, as he grows older, I find it more important to actually take a moment of my life, restrain the fact that I want to throttle the life out of him, and actually make him think about what he’s done, the consequences, and the feelings of those around him. I don’t even tell him what I expect out of him anymore, I just say, “You know what I expect from you.” When we went to walk/train my friend’s dogs (a ginormous Newfoundland among them), I told Nate, “I expect you to act like a little gentleman.” He asked for clarification, which I gave. He didn’t disappoint me.
When the moment calls for it, I jerk a knot in his ass. He is left with NO, and I mean NO questions as to what he’s in trouble for and why immediate action was taken.
I assure you also, he will push your buttons. He is the kind of kid that will see just how far he can push you but he also has a great respect for anyone who stands up to him. I know this to be true because he came up against Cybele, and I know Cybele had to let him know who was boss and she wasn’t going to be pushed around. He adores her and he adores her because she put her foot down in a calm, rational manner (although I figure she wanted to kill him in the morning *inside joke, folks, no need to call Social Services*) without yelling at him, shaking her finger in his face, calling him names, or spanking him.
Perhaps you don’t agree with the fact that I give Nate a perameter in which to operate in. Every year that perameter gets a little bigger, not because he gets taller or older, but because he matures. Perhaps you don’t agree that I chose to guide rather than control. I’m sure we would all prefer that our children not make mistakes, but I assure you, without mistakes, and consequences, they won’t learn a damn thing. Perhaps my consequences aren’t the same consequences that you would have. That’s your business.
I like to recognize that children learn by playing with other children. That means the high-five after a great shot or it means they may bicker or get pissed off at each other, but there are important social clues involved in that process. I don’t believe it should progress to physical confrontation, but I’m willing to let things progress so that they learn to work things out without adult intervention. I have bitten my tongue a number of times to keep from refereeing and allowing that social process to work itself out. I think it has done Nate a world of good to learn from those interactions because it came from his peers, not his mother.
Jeff and T-Bird are the exact same kind of parent in that aspect. Control, control, control. A child will never learn to think for themselves if you continually think for them.
Let’s get to my last pet peeve… Nate’s hobbies. Nate likes to read Harry Potter and he devoured “Bridge Over Terabithia” while we were in AZ and he likes for me to read to him as well. He likes to paint and draw, he plays the clarinet (and would play a psaltery if I could ever afford one), singing, and playing Rock Band drums. During the summer he’s a total water dog and although he has stage fright, which cut short his modeling career, he has expressed interest in the theater, He likes to fish at my parents farm and go out with my dad on the four-wheeler, hike with Mom in the Grand Canyon, and basically any puzzle intriques him. He loves our cats and plays with them and he likes to watch TV, but that comes and goes. He collects Pokemon cards and Bakugan figures and he and his friend Cameron play games that I don’t understand with them.
But, Nate’s greatest passion is video games. He loves video games, whether its Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Pokemon, Rock Band, or Guitar Hero, NATE LOVES VIDEO GAMES. He got a PSP for his birthday and Lego Indiana Jones to go with it. He was thrilled this evening to reach 4,000,000,000, yes, four billion, in fake money. That’s as high as the game will go and he beat it. He’s rather disappointed that his PS2 has hit the skids because he loves playing the Rock Band drum kit and singing the songs, alone or with a group, he’s all about it.
He goes through cycles. Sometimes he’ll watch TV, like Total Drama Island on Cartoon Network and he’ll go for a week or so and not even play a video game. Then he’s all about it again. Think what you like about video games but for hand-eye coordination (I can’t even begin to play the drums or guitar on Rock Band) and to increase his attention to detail, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
He doesn’t play violent video games. You won’t find Grand Theft Auto in this house although he’s lobbied for it. He’s totally psyched to have used his allowance money to put the upcoming Lego Batman on hold at the mall. He’s learned how to buy-sell-trade old games for new games and as you can tell from his pictures, he’s neither obese nor pasty white.
I hope your children have hobbies that they enjoy as much as Nate does his. I may not agree with your child’s hobbies, but they’re not my kids. I can’t stand wrestling, boxing, or ultimate fighting, have no love for it, no more so than I have for Grand Theft Auto, but if your kids are into it and that’s okay with you, that’s okay with me. I don’t feel as though I have a right to tell you what your kids should like or be involved in. Good for you and for your kids if they play four sports a year, my kids likes swimming, video games, and music. Maybe you’ve got an Andre the Giant or LeBron James, maybe I’ve got a Michael Phelps or a Bill Gates.
I don’t think that Nate’s interests make him more special or less special than any other child. I don’t think it makes me a bad parent to allow my son to come in, climb up on the side of my chair, and say, “Wow, Momma, check this out, I got FOUR BILLION on my game! FOUR BILLION MOM!” At least he knows what a BILLION looks like! The Lego games have definitely reinforced his ability to accurately read numbers.
So, all in all, raise your children the way you see fit. After all, you know them best. I’ll do the same with mine.