Here at MomBrain HQ we have been watching burly men blow insulation into our attic. The house is draped with octopus-like tentacular tubing that’s right out of a B movie — “Attack of the Killer Squid” right here in the ‘hood. You can’t buy that kind of entertainment for a seven-year-old. Oh, wait … I did … I did buy it.
MomBrain wears many colorful hats. The orange one with the large peacock feather is my MotherTalk hat, the one I wear when I’m wrangling bloggers to review books for a Blog Tour, or — like today — running a Blog Bonanza. So, in honor of No-Cry Friday, here is MomBrain’s single pearl of wisdom when it comes to discipline. Yes, I have only one pearl, but it’s a big one and the Little Guy likes it a lot. This is because my pearl keeps me from totally losing my cool, yelling, and saying or doing things I regret later once the temperature has cooled down. Here it is: are you ready?
Discipline is about control, not punishment.
When the Little Guy misbehaves, he’s out of control — usually because he’s tired, hungry, overstimulated or emotional. When he cannot control himself, I do — I declare quiet time, feed him, remove him from sensory overload, or help him name and manage his emotions (in time out if necessary). Later, when everyone has calmed down, we talk about what happened and ways to handle it better next time. But punishing him just doesn’t work — it pushes both of us into emotional overdrive, and — more importantly — it doesn’t fix the underlying problem. Okay, maybe spanking or yelling would make him stop throwing rocks at the playground, but he’s still hungry and overwhelmed, and now he’s crying and embarrassed and confused on top of it. Far better for us to just leave the playground (a natural consequence), get something to eat, have quiet time at home and then talk about it (including what will happen if he ever throws another rock again).
Ultimately, my goal is to teach the Little Guy to control himself and his environment so that I don’t have to — to recognize when he’s hungry and feed himself well, to find a quiet corner or room when he’s overwhelmed, to go to bed early if he’s tired. In other words (this is big), to have self-discipline. But until he can do that, I will have to don my Captain’s hat (the navy blue one with the rank insignia on the brim) and take charge myself.
MomBrain has spent the better part of today bowling with 30 first graders. While the Big Guy was no doubt sipping tea with the Queen, I was tripping the light fantastic at a glow-in-the-dark bowling alley, complete with disco balls and a subwoofer in each lane. Two hours into it the kids were chasing the swirling spots, beaning each other with 8-pound bowling balls, exposing their white underwear under the black lights and screaming at full volume. Then the glazed donuts appeared, and all hope of control was lost. Jesus wept.
I am sure you will not fault me for the wee margarita I drank with lunch. It was for medicinal purposes only.
Pity Poor MomBrain. The Big Guy is in Chicago, sleeping on clean sheets in a king-sized bed sans boy and sans cat. Although he is at a Very Important Conference with many Very Busy People, he somehow found time today to see an art museum, have drinks at a rooftop bar, hear the symphony, and take in a Cubs game.
I am bitter. I will not share with you the condition of my sheets, but I will say that my bed is crowded and I wish the dang cat would stop shedding. Sightseeing included the grocery store and many late-model SUVs in the school carpool lane. Did I mention I am bitter?
PunditMom has issued a challenge. She writes “The term mommy blogger, for some, has a stigma and conjures an image of a woman in stained sweats, a couple of toddlers in tow, using a blog as a journal of her daily toils and troubles. What if we came up with some phrases that more accurately describe what tens of thousands of us are doing here in cyberspace — trying to harness the power of social networking for business and political purposes.”
She suggests moving away from the word “mommy” and more toward words like “mother” or “maternal.” I dunno. Is it really the word “mommy” that’s inaccurate? Or is it society’s assumptions that are wrong? I admit, I feel the stigma, too – it’s the same icky feeling of going to a party and telling someone you’re “just a mom.” And even if you finesse it — even if you say you’re a fulltime mom, or home with your kids, or that you work from home as a freelance writer and editor so you can spend more time with your kids — the listener still hears “just a mom.”