What’s Happening in Vegas? I Bet It’s More Fun Than Here
Las Vegas (photo from Wikipedia)
I think the happy member of the family award goes to Jim this week. His sister Jo asked him, all expenses paid, to accompany her and her husband Randy to a medical conference in Las Vegas. Jim’s job is to make sure Randy, who is turning 50, has fun, while Jo attends conference meetings.
Even though I’ve seen Jim gamble too much, I’ll admit that I didn’t exactly try to prevent the whole thing. When Jim asked me if he could go, I suddenly thought, four days of dinner without poopy jokes, a quiet house that lets Connor focus on his homework, and no one getting upset about the way I load the dishwasher. I gave Jim my blessing. I guess I also thought, without being subjected to Jim’s moody discipline, the kids will be cooperative and less bratty.
Thursday was my first day to myself, and by the time the kids arrived home, I was kind of glad to see the them coming off the bus and running into the house. Much to my disappointment, without even a “Hi, Mom,” they dashed over to the Halloween candy they collected the previous evening and began speed eating mini chocolates. Since they wouldn’t listen to my insistence that they eat the candy after dinner, I rushed to put an easy meal of hotdogs and cucumber slices on the table so they could eat something remotely healthy first.
We all sat down, and I began to ask the Chloe about her day. She looked away from me, irritated, grabbed her plate, and began to walk downstairs to eat in front of the TV.
Remember, Chloe is 7, not 17. I said something too nice, like, “Come on, don’t eat in front of the TV. Won’t it be fun to all eat together?”
“You’re so mean! It’s so much more fun with Daddy here!” Chloe siad. But she did come back to the table and throw down her plate.
Connor agreed with her.
Trying to see if they can manipulate me now that Jim’s not home, I thought. They’re not going to get away with it.
But somehow, during dinner, Chloe managed to go downstairs with her hotdog and turn on the TV, and I let it go – who wants to deal with that much conflict, right?
The nonsense continued all evening. I told Chloe she had to stop distracting Connor while he was trying to do his homework, and she burst into tears. I tried to comfort her, and explain that I understood it was hard to be the one who wasn’t getting attention, but she said if Daddy were here he would make everything better. At bedtime Connor lay down in the middle of the hallway and refused to brush his teeth.
When Jim called I told him that Chloe really missed him; I didn’t want to get into the details.
But the next day, I kept thinking about how obnoxious Chloe had become, even before Jim went away and how I could never maintain a tough discipline method for long, and how unfair it was that none of the specialists who help me with discipline take my passive personality into account.
The most frequently recommended strategy is 1-2-3 Magic, a method and book created by Thomas Phelan which gives kids three chances to be good before sending them to time out. It never works because either my kids won’t go to time out when I tell them, or I become uncomfortable with the lack of warmth it creates in our relationship. Sticker charts are also recommended all of the time. Honestly, I’m not enough of a supermom to remain consistent with the number of charts it takes to cover all the ways in which my kids need to improve.
No one ever recommended it specifically, but there is a method with a whole series of books called Positive Discipline created by Dr. Jane Nelson. I had to discover it on my own, in the library. I can’t remember why I stopped using it, but it definitely reflects my conflict averse personality. I realized I would have to look back at my binder full of parenting notes to remember the different aspects of the method, but I did remember that you’re supposed to say something like “I can’t talk to you when you talk to me like that,” when your kid says something obnoxious.
I tried it on Chloe when she came home that day and began giving me lip for telling her to stop eating Halloween candy before dinner. No lie, she backed off and came back all sweet and apologetic. So that’s my latest “happy family” plan. I’m going to review my notes, go to the library and get the most appropriate book from the series and try it for a week. If it works, I may just have to lie to the specialists who are pushing me to be a tough mom with a reward box. If not, nothing lost.
As for Las Vegas – when Jim called last night, he told me that his oldest sister, who lives in California, surprised them by arriving at their hotel with her son. Not surprising at all, if you know the family, but five people squeezing into the same hotel room doesn’t sound like a ton of fun. Poor Jim, I hope it doesn’t put a damper on the vacation.
Honestly, I doubt it’s getting too much in the way of his fun. He’ll probably be missing that hotel room this afternoon when he comes home to a messy house and a wife who wants him to learn the principles of Positive Discipline. In fact, he’ll probably be so overwhelmed that he’ll criticize the way I loaded the dishwasher, and then say he just got off the red-eye and go take a nap.