Don't forget to remember

I watch some weird tv. The names of shows I watch will be withheld to protect the innocent, namely me. It's funny how there is stigma attached to what a person watches on television, how we tend to look down on each other for what our tastes in entertainment are. I'm as guilty as the next person although I certainly don't have any right to be considering some of the trash I watch. See? I'm judging myself!

Yesterday I was half watching a program discussing kids being mean and part way through my son and his fiancé arrived and sat down with me. I explained what the show was about and added my two cents on an aspect I thought was being missed in talking to the children who thought it was cool to be mean and it's why they were popular. It was my thought someone should be telling this kid that the other kids aren't friends with her because they like her, they're friends with her because they're afraid not to be.

The show fell by the wayside as my son and I began to talk about kids and parenting. We talked about how his desire to be friends with the class asshole(s) was thankfully short lived, that I'd taught him he need never be so pathetic as to need "friends" so badly that he'd put up with anything just to hang with the cool kids. Of course this is much easier when you have a home where you're loved and feel safe, a place to forget for a few hours the evil deeds of school peers. Yes, he did suffer through this age of constant contact with social media but I was savvy and aware and monitored his online behavior as well as that of his "friends".

As we talked, a child of six years was discussed on the now ignored program, a gorgeous little kid who doesn't listen at all to her mom. Time outs, spankings, yelling etc. be damned, this kid was having none of any of it. As we semi watch, my son (half)jokingly asks his fiancé and myself if it would be so wrong to just tie a kid like that to a chair to which we responded with a resounding YES it would be wrong, which led to talking about what I did with my son when he was little.

I was never a mom who went to someone's house and asked them to childproof their home. It was my job to watch my son, to tell him "no" and remove him from whatever had caught his eye. I remember being at my mother-in-law's and feeling exasperated, feeling like I'd be doing this for the rest of my life. I'll never forget her supporting me and encouraging me to stick with it, that it would pay off eventually, and it did.

I asked my son if he remembered my taking his doorknob out of his bedroom door. He didn't remember and asked how that wasn't like tying a kid to a chair. I explained that it was a consequence he knew would happen if he came out of his room for the seventh time and that there was a big difference between free reign of a bedroom and physical restraint. I've never believed in forced sleep because I remember how I hated that as a kid, laying in bed wide awake for hours. I did have 'bedtimes' for my son but what that meant was him in his room with a book or listening to a bedtime tape with the only expectation being that he stay in his room and sleep when he was actually ready to. When he was very small but first in a real bed, he, like most kids, would continue to come out for this reason or that. I would get the first glass of water, chase away two or three boogeymen, enjoy two or three more hugs and kisses and then I'd lay down the law. "This is the last time you are allowed to come out dear. If you come out one more time, I will take the doorknob so you can't." Of course he had to test it, it happened, and that was it. Consequence laid out, enforced, and as a result, believed. It was up to him to make the decision about whether or not his doorknob was intact or not.

The three of us talked a bit more about parenting strategies, things we thought were cool and things we thought were not so cool. My son talked about how now when he looks at the things kids struggle with it seems like they should just should know better than to succumb to peer pressure or push matters until their doorknobs are removed, and because of that maybe his fiancé should do all the parenting of any kids they may have in the future.

Hell no, we both said, kids need both their patents to be in on the action. Hey, I asked my son, have you forgotten to remember what it feels like to be a kid? I've always taught you how important that is. That although kids' problems may seem trivial or silly to adults, they are very real and as much if not more of a burden because kids are just learning to problem solve.

Oh no, he replied, for sure I remember, it's just that it seems sort of separate now from what appears obvious.

I tell him not to worry. As long as he doesn't forget to remember what it feels like to be a kid, he'll be a great dad.


  1. “I tell him not to worry. As long as he doesn't forget to remember what it feels like to be a kid, he'll be a great dad.” - *High five* yes, that is my theory as well.

    We went through a similar thing with my oldest and slamming her bedroom door. I told her if she continued to slam her door that she would lose the privilege of having one. She went on to slam it again, I told her that would be the last time she slammed a door in our house. Again, she slammed the door so I removed it and put it in the basement for 3 days, and told her if she wanted privacy she would have to get it in the bathroom. About a week after she got her door back, she slammed it again and lost it for a week. That was almost a year ago and NOBODY has slammed a door since. I cannot claim that I did exactly the right thing. I made my expectations clear; I made her consequences clear to her in advanced. The consequences were directly connected to the behavior. I kept my end of the bargain and followed through on my word. And the desired affect was achieved. No more slamming doors.

  2. Did taking the doorknob off mean he could not get out of the room, like he was locked in? That sounds terrifying and possibly dangerous if there was a fire. What if he had to go to the bathroom? It seems a harsh punishment for the crime of leaving his room, especially for a small child. I don't see it as much less awful than tying the child to a chair. It is still restraint and the child is helpless, and it is not like he did anything dangerous or horrid.

  3. I see that as pretty creative Sunday and obviously effective. As you know, there are several things I've read that you've done that gave me a chuckle or thought to myself, ahh good idea.

    Anonymous 1:02 ...get real. The doorknob was not left off into the night and I was right outside his room.

    For anyone dumb enough to take off a doorknob and leave a child unattended or ignore a plea to use the washroom, don't.

  4. I locked my kid in his room once, because we just couldn't stand his constant unnecessary demands ( He didn't really want water or to go pee. He just didn't want to sleep. But we did, desperately) . We were lucky we had the kind of door that had a key, but it amounts to the same thing - he couldn't get out unless we let him.
    Anyway, it did help to bring it home to him that he was driving us nuts.

    Some kids do think it's cool to be mean. I remember a kid I went to grade school with who was like that. Nobody really liked her - they were just intimidated and didn't want to be the objects of her meanness. Eventually the tide turned when she attacked someone who fought back, and all the other kids started cheering that person. She ran home to tell her mommy, but things were always different after that and she got much nicer.

  5. This was a nice, light-hearted story to read. It sounds like you have a wonderful son and that you're proud of him.
    Your story made me think of an incident that happened at my home just a few weeks ago. It was a really hot day here in Chicago, so my son and I went to a nearby store and bought a slip n' slide for his 3 year old son. We brought it home, set it up and guess who was the first one to slide on it? Yup, my 37 year old who claimed he just wanted to make sure his son knew what to do. Needless to say they both had a great time! So I guess it's important to remember what it's like to be a kid!

  6. Love that story Gail, thank you! You made me think of my brother and the kind of dad he was : )

  7. "The names of shows I watch will be withheld to protect the innocent, namely me."

    My daughter and I love Toddlers and Tiaras immensely but anyone who watched us watching it would be horrified by our commentary. We make mean comments about bratty behavior and overly ambitious mothers living through their children. I don't actually have any problem with the parents who are calm and kind, don't claim that their child is the cutest, teach the skills appropriately, and help the kid understand that this is a contest, after all, demanding a certain standard of behavior . . . but the show doesn't usually focus on those.

  8. Yikes Anon 7:25, no wonder you posted anonymously haha. I've seen Toddlers and Tiaras and am guilty of some critical commentary myself. It's one I can't watch watch, just something to gasp about when I flip from the commercials of the other crap I watch. I hate commercials, big time. I remember seeing an insane stage father who was so obviously living vicariously through his little girl. What I did enjoy the couple of times I caught the show was when the kids would rebel, usually right after the parent said, "little so and so LOVES doing this". Gotta love editing.

  9. You know, it's almost exasperating...

    When "older" adults say to me "When I was your age, I was doing xyz. You may think xyz is hard at your age, but when I was that old, I had already done a, b and c."

    And I feel like saying "Well, expectations for a, b and c have changed in these times. Just because *you* did xyz at that age doesn't mean the way I'm choosing to do it now is wrong."

    People are always saying "I remember how when I was 18 I was doing...."

    And it's like "Yeah, you remember. But you're NOT 18 right now. You're looking through it in a reflective lens and comparing it to the different norms of what it means to be 18 today."

    (P.S. For the record, I am not actually 18.)

  10. Mei Ling? I don't get your point. Well, I do but I don't see how it's applicable to this post.

    What you're talking about is a slight, and indicative of a person who doesn't remember how they felt when they were young. Unless that's what you're getting at?

    Are you saying my advice/philosophy that parents do better if they don't forget to remember how it feels to be a kid is bad, bordering on exasperating?

  11. "What you're talking about is a slight, and indicative of a person who doesn't remember how they felt when they were young."

    Actually, I thought I was talking about a person who *did* remember how they felt when they were young, and then comparing it to different standards of today.

    A 40-year-old mother telling her 18-year-old daughter she remembers how it felt to be 18 and doing certain things isn't the same as *being* 18-years-old.

  12. I would try and explain what my point is Mei Ling but I get the feeling you really aren't interested in my take on parenting so I'd be talking to the air.

    Hopefully others can grasp what I'm saying.

  13. ....last try.

    A person who truly remembered what it felt like to be 18 wouldn't talk like that to their kid.


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