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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Challenging...

What a week it's been, and it's not over yet!  Just to warn you now, this is not a card post.  This is a venting about children post.

I have 2 adorable children - that I have screwed up.  Isn't that the downfall to our job as parents, we do our best, love and cherish them, guide them through life...but somehow, after EVERYTHING we think we have done right; something happens to show us we weren't as great as we thought.  Or perhaps that sweet adorable child becomes more independent, develops a mind of their own, gets influenced by others outside of our control.  Yes...that is what I am blaming this new development on....forces that influenced her beyond my control.

Yesterday, my sweet adorable 6 year old was having a great morning.  She didn't antagonize the baby...not too much anyway...was helpful and loving.  She has had a questionable behavior the last few days, as she is looking forward to her trip with her grandparents, her behavior gets a bit rowdy...to say the least.  But yesterday, my perfect daughter was back.  Ahh the joy....  Around 11:00 she asked if she could go outside and play with the 9 year old neighbor boy and out she went.  I had our sliding glass door open so I could keep my eye on her and they played together well.  Usually when the neighbor boy's sister is home (she is 5), he becomes a pain in the butt older brother, picking on the girls and bothering them.  But this morning, he was sweet and put up with Lily bossing him around.  I fed them lunch and off they went to play some more.  I put the baby down and sat at the kitchen table to take care of some bills.  Taking a break from the calculator, I looked up at Lily and AJ in her playhouse playing with leaves they had picked.  Next thing I knew Lily slapped AJ across the face!!!!  BEYOND shocked and angry, I called both of them down and onto the deck.  Rage engulfed me as Lily began to cry and yell that AJ took one of her leaves.  When she finally made it onto the deck, I asked her "Did you just slap AJ?", "......no".  My blood was now boiling over, as my eyes became larger than softballs and I'm sure blacker than coal.  I turned to AJ, "Did Lily just hit you?", a sheepish nod was my reply, he could tell I was about to explode.

Every fiber of my being wanted to beat the tar out of my child - how could she do this?  Where had she seen such behavior that she would think it was acceptable to show another person such disrespect?  Where had I gone wrong as a parent?  Why did she lie to my face?   I flashed back to when she was a toddler, her hitting another kid for taking a toy in the daycare room at the gym.  That was typical behavior for a child without the words to express themselves, not for a 6 year old going into 1st grade.  I began to ask her the same questions I did when she was 2...'how do you think it makes him feel when you hit him?'...'is it nice to make someone feel that way'...'how would it make you feel if he hit you?'...'what do you think you can do to make him feel better?'  I received the same answers she gave as a child...'sad'...'no'...'sad'...'say I'm sorry'.  She then gave him a sincere apology..thank goodness... and I sent her to her room.  I then apologized to AJ and let him know this will NEVER happen again.

Now, that brilliant bit of parenting I would love to take credit for, but it's not my idea.  It came from my mother and a book she gave me.  Jane Nelson - look her up she is a brilliant coach on parenting skills...so is my mom.  I called my husband to let him know what HIS daughter had just done.  As a fun, loving dad he is great, but as a disciplinarian - he sucks.  We had tickets to take Lily to a fun evening with the players at the ballpark - a rare opportunity for a hitting clinic in the batting cages.  I declared we were canceling this.  His response was, 'just have her stay in her room until the event, then let her go, that will be enough'.  I boiled over...gave him a tongue lashing got off the phone and then calmed myself.  I still need to talk to Lily about her behavior. 

When I was a kid, spanking and grounding was the punishment of choice.  We tried spanking when Lily was younger, just the threat of a spanking was enough to get her in line, for a while.  Then we had to use it.  It is always the last resort and is as heartbreaking to her as it is to me.   We haven't had to spank for nearly a year.  Now that she is 6 and has a younger sister, I try not to use that as her punishment.

As I made the very short trip up the stairs...how did we go from 20 steps to 3?...I began to think about what punishment would make the most impact.  Limit tv? ...yes...no playing outside...oh yes....lock her in her room until she is 20? ...yes, yes, YES!  Grounding was the way to go for the hitting.  Now what to do for the lying?  My anger got the best of me and I decided no trip to grandmas...yes, the ultimate punishment...no spoiling for a full week...a devistating loss. 

I walked into her room, there she sat, red eyed and wet cheeked as I explained her punishment for the hitting.  Stay in her room for the rest of the day and grounded until our weekend trip.  Then I explained that she was also going to be punished for lying to me.  This honestly is what I am most upset about now.  Where did this lying start?  Is it from the little secrets her and Gramma keep?  Is it from kids at school?  I have told her before, I will get more upset about a situation if she lies about it.  When she does something wrong that she knows she will be punished for, don't lie or the punishment will be worse.  Is that the right way to handle this?  I don't know....  We always tell her there is nothing she can ever tell us that would make us not love her anymore.  She is the most precious Lily in the world and we will never love another Lily as much as we love her. 

Well, I didn't say she wasn't going to Gramma's, I told her I had to think about it, she had better be on her BEST behavior.  After I talked to my mom about the situation, she had some great advice.  After dinner, I sat her down with a spiral notebook and had her write 'I will not hit anyone' 27 times (that's how many lines are on the paper).  I must say it made quite an impact.  She spent the rest of the evening in her room writing apology notes to me, AJ and her dad - without any prompting.  And even though they are difficult to read (she just finished Kindergarten and still spells phonetically) they were from the sweet little girl I love, not the stinker from earlier in the day.  Perhaps I am doing something right....only time will tell.

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