Friday, February 25, 2011

Last night’s lesson.

Dinner last night was horrendous. Not the meal itself, if was actually quite enjoyable (lemon butter chicken served on a bed of whole wheat couscous yum!) It was those damn children wreaking all kinds of havoc at the table. I had literally finished my meal, (and I’m a chew each mouthful a billion times before swallowing kind of gal) and they had not even put a dent in their meal due to goofing off, teasing each other, blowing bubbles in their milk and other nonsense that makes razors pop out of my knuckles, claws grow out of my toes and pop a new wrinkle out. This was not an isolated incident; in fact, it has become the norm lately with Jo and I getting angrier and angrier at the table (well, not AT the table, the table didn’t do anything wrong, just we feel angry whilst sitting at the table witnessing our offspring acting like feral beasts). So the scenario has become I slave away in the kitchen to make a nice meal, can’t enjoy it because the kids make me angry, then waste time sitting at the table in negotiations with them while I could be cleaning up and moving on with the evening. Funnnnnnn.

Last night, instead of losing my shit and freaking out, I quietly got up, cleared my dishes, went to my happy couch and picked up my magazine (new Rolling Stone with Justin Bieber on the front – interesting article on the Clash fyi). I also put on my headphones and completely tuned out the cacophony (haha I said caca) going on at the table.

Of course this action raised the eyebrows of the nine and under crowd. They HATE it when I ignore them. I simply stated that I had no desire to dine with them if they could not behave in an appropriate manner (I have to admit, I said it in the most condescending way possible) and when they could prove that they could meet my dining expectations, (I listed them again, even though they know perfectly well what they are) I would consider re-joining them. There were protests, tears (Edie, obviously) and “give us one more chance!” begging. Uh uh. Headphones back on, return to reading article. I didn’t put my music on as I wanted to hear the ensuing conversation. Grace eventually asked Edie about her bus ride that day, Edie replied. They conversed. They ate. They called me every two minutes asking if I would re-join them. I declined, as I had already finished my meal, and told them to focus on their own. When they were finished, they cleared their dishes without being asked. It worked.

I always forget that a bit of tough love works. It is a lot of work, you have to put up with a lot of shit, and if you are like me, made to feel soooo guilty about laying down the law (Edie has no problem accusing me of breaking her heart and screeching “you don’t even love me if you do dat!”). I am not going to lie, that shit works on me, she’s got me figured out. Grace pulls the old “all my friends are allowed to stay up late/watch this show/get Fruit by the Foot in their lunches” – again, sometimes this works. Pretty weak, right?

I was reading a great post by RudeCactus (Feb. 24 post) the other day and it really hit a nerve with me. I don’t want coddled, spoiled kids who don’t ever have consequences to their actions. I have been lazy lately in this department, and it is way too easy to become complacent and give them whatever they want, whenever they want, and let them win.

I’m putting on my suit of armour and putting an impenetrable cage around my heart. Meanoldmommy is back in town.


Mary said...

I LOVE IT! The picture is great, and your response seems to be just what was needed. Sometimes I feel like we're going to be grousing at our daughter at the table about her manners and her pickiness until she's 40 years old.

Pauline said...

Right on! My parents taught me the importance of setting boundaries and didn't let me get away with everything and they had the right idea! Children need a moderate amount of discipline and it sounds like your tactic at dinner worked very well!

elle bee said...

Meanie you are hilarious.