The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Discipline

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on May 15, 2011

I’m having trouble laying down the law with the kids.

First off, I waver between extremes. When I’m consciously thinking about my parenting style, I practice Love & Logic theory. I’ve even taken a six-week class in it — twice.

But then there’s the other extreme, when the house looks particularly squalid and the kids seem unfocused and out of control. I bellow orders like the quintessential Love & Logic “drill sergeant” (the poster boy for what not to do.)

(I used to think I was a “helicopter,” but I’m really not. It may not be pleasant to think of myself this way, but my natural tendency is toward drill sergeant.)

The other day, for instance, Eva came home from a sleepover at a friend’s house. She was groggy and sugared up (she’d had a cinnamon roll and watermelon for breakfast, and the night before, had eaten a bunch of cupcakes.)

Three things happened in quick succession. Jane played hostess to the neighborhood kids and started passing out popsicles. I told Eva she couldn’t have one because all she’d had all morning was sugary stuff and she needed a real lunch instead.

Then all of the other kids started riding bikes in the street. This is our major new thing in the neighborhood, and I’m still figuring out how to handle it. Hopefully nobody dies while I’m working out a plan.

I told her she couldn’t ride in “the gutter” (what she calls riding in the street where a bike path would be if there were one.) Everyone else, including three kindergartners and the two year old who lives next door were riding in the street. (Seriously! He was on a Big Wheel.)

Finally, I walked into the house and found her bracing with her hands and feet against the hallway walls. You know that segment on Ninja Warrior where contestants have to propel themselves forward by bracing between two walls? That.

I told her to stop.

“Did you just wash this wall?” she asked.

See, that is the type of question that I find rude and disrespectful coming from child to parent, but Scott thinks is just Eva on an uber-logical fact finding mission.

A few minutes later, she came out to the garage, where I was sorting through old paint cans and dog chew toys. Silently she handed me a note and went back inside.

“So I guess I’m never allowed to ride my bike in the gutter, eat a popsicle, or touch the wall. Love, Eva.”

I found her inside and we talked. Per Love & Logic, I decided she’s old enough to make sugar-hangover related decisions on her own, and I reminded her that eating lots of sweets can sometimes leave you feeling crappy afterward, especially if it’s not as part of a balanced meal with some protein to temper it. She decided a popsicle is basically like a few ounces of juice and she’d be going to a Mexican lunch in a few minutes anyway, so she had the popsicle.

Then I told her how drivers can hardly see kids on bikes, and how I’ve personally had some scary near-misses with kids on bikes or scooters. We agreed she can ride in “the gutter” only if she stays right next to the curb, watches carefully for cars, and always stops to walk her bike across if she wants to go completely to the other side of the street.

(That’s not a permanent solution for us, but I am not sure what to do.)

Then I told her she is welcome to use my new Ninja Trainer Wii game as much as she wants, but she is never, ever allowed to purposely touch our walls, even if I’ve never cleaned a wall in the house the entire seven years we’ve lived here. That’s just common sense.

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