Monday, July 25, 2011
I don't know if any of you have seen Date Night, but it's a comedy starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell. The movie is about a harried couple raising two children, who try to have a weekly "date night", but this one goes horribly wrong when they take the reservation of a couple of no-shows.
So why do I bring up this movie? The first scene reminds me of a recent visit with my daughter's family and her two kids. In the movie the mother is always using the counting system before taking action with the kids just as my daughter does. It goes like this with my daughter and son-in-law.
"Put up your toys, and go wash your hands. We're ready to eat supper."
Response: None. They keep playing.
Two minutes later in a firmer voice..
"Okay, I said to put up the toys and go wash your hands, it's time for supper."
Three year old Stomps foot, "No! I don't want to."
Eight year old. " Can't we just finish the game?"
"No. put up the toys. Go wash your hands now."
Three year old. "No, I said no, no, no.. I want to play. Waaa..."
Eight year old. "Oh here we go again. Quit rolling on the floor Tessa."
Three year old. "No. No. No. Can't you understand me? Waaa..."
Eight year old. "Quit kicking the box. Stop it right now. I'm trying to put up the puzzle. You're the winner okay?"
One minute later..
"We're having hot dogs, Mac and Cheese and fruit salad for lunch. It's getting cold."
Side note: They love Mac and Cheese and hot dogs. What kid doesn't?
Eight year old. "Wow, I bet you can't get the puzzle in as fast as me, ."
Three year old."Yes, I can. I'll beat you to the table."
"Go wash your hands first."
Three is the number that signals punishment--taking away a favorite toy, a fun activity, banishment to their rooms.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember doing that, but there was no counting system. When one of my daughters, whose main interest in life was riding, slacked off at school, my husband called her in and asked her to sit. He looked at my daughter ( an A student) and said, "We got your report card today. Now if you were mentally retarded, we would be really proud. But you aren't and we are really disappointed." Then he took away her riding privileges. That was the last time, we had to resort to that type of parenting. Side note: I mean no disrespect toward parents of children who are mentally challenged, because they have to be blessed with patience and caring that most of us don't have.
We don't grow up with parenting skills and there were many times I wished I had taken a course before I had children. Because of my nursing background, I knew how to care for sick children but I'd never been around well children. There's a big difference. I never spanked my children, but as they got older I learned the firmness needed and the word "No."
My daughters said we were too strict and they wished that I had been willing to negotiate. But they survived and became nice responsible adults. That's all any parent can hope for. But parents need a few survival skills. Here are my thoughts.
Parents need some quiet time. And that means getting kids involved in activities that involve strenous exercise during the day.
If kids are at home, they need an hour alone in their room without video games, computers and TV. . They don't have to go to sleep, but they need to slow down for an hour, maybe with a book.
Limiting TV time to one hour a day and giving kids chores is important. They need to learn they are contributing members of the family who follow rules to make the home better and that means going to bed early so that they aren't falling asleep in school.
Sharing activities as a family: meals, cooking, gardening, chores, sports, church , but also parents doing things alone and giving themselves some time to catch their breath and enjoy their own and each other's company. A date night is a good thing to preserve sanity.
As a parent today, it's difficult to keep your children happy, healthy, and prepare them to be responsible future adult citizens. What lessons are you teaching your children each day?
If you are a writer and parent, what do you do to get some writing in if you have children? What are your time management skills.
And just for fun, you might enjoy "Date Night."