Saturday, September 11, 2010

Both Sides

I haven't forgotten about you.
Or the last part of the back to school story.
I had intended to post that tonight, but then, "kids happened," and I have to get this off my chest;

Are you a parent?
How old are your children?
If you're not a parent, you're obviously someones daughter or son, and that being the case what are some items that stand out with their parenting styles from when you were a child?

I've been on both sides of this fence.
I will admit it.
But never have I been on the 3rd part of the fence, or at least from what I can remember.
Until today.

Today I found myself on the 3rd part of the fence. The part that might hurt if you sit down on it.
Have you ever found yourself in a restaurant and witnessed a family with out of control children? The parents making ridiculous "if you don't," statements, impossible to follow thru on?
You know the, "if you don't eat your butter burger I'm going to call your teacher.." "who's phone number I do not have."
You're there, you're seeing this, what do you do?
Do you do?

I have done 2 things with this fence.
I have played the 'Audience' and the "Avoidance."
Before you get all, "that so is not the right way to word it. Not here it isn't.
Here you CAN use it in that format, just as much so as when you over hear a woman tell another one of her friends out at a bar, "I'm sooo going to get cougared tonight." Or, "I am going to cougar when I'm out tonight." The only difference is that my word, 'Avoidance,' doesn't lead to sex. Matter of fact, 'Avoidance' is what happens many years after the night of being cougared.

I can't tell you what feels worse right now. Although I have never cougared anyone. So to compare on something I don't know, isn't really fair of me. Plus I don't ever plan on cougaring someone, unless its part of the RP factor.

What happens in 'Avoidance,' when you're a parent, is to ignore the stage that is breathing obscene gestures around you. These stage dwellers are not part of the category deemed friends or family. They're strangers. The only thing you have in common with these people is the restaurant you're seated in.

Being me, typically I ignore the situation. As a Mom I can imagine the humiliation the parent(s) must feel at that point, so I try very hard to avoid looking at them. Plus who knows what else may be going on outside of the restaurant: death, an illness, a divorce, a sickness, college football, cosmetic surgery, hemorrhoids, you just don't know what sort of dysfunction is going on back at their empty home.

Which is why I prefer to ignore it.

However there are times that I I'll watch and at the same time, I'll be whispering to the boys to "look at that and understand how disrespectful that child is acting towards their Mom or Dad" sort of dialogue.

Sort of like how you'd translate a subtitle on a movie to someone illiterate.

The fence is based on double A; 'Audience' or 'Avoidance'.

Except for tonight.
Guess what?
Do you soooooooo know where I am heading with this?
If you're a parent, you will. If you're not a parent, but someones child, you will as well. You don't have to be a parent to get this situation, because you yourself have been privy to this at some point of your life.

Tonight, I was the one on stage with my children, and the audience was everyone in "CULVERS."
The third and sharp part of the fence. The one part of the fence that feels sorta rotted.

There are no excuses for this. Except to blame myself. Because respect isn't born, it's taught.
Somehow I failed today on it.

I failed after I was cool with Jack and Sully spending the afternoon at their cousin's house.
I failed after I was cool to take my boys after spending $20.00, to a rubber ducky river race, in support of the town's river rebuild.
I failed after I told them to stop throwing sticks as 1000+ yellow ducks floated past everyone on the embankment towards the self inflated finish line.
I failed after I approached the 5 police officers congregating around the table outside the beer tent, after I asked them if they would pose in a picture with my boys. Well, my three boys, their cousins and the 5 police officers.

Correction, at least with the Police it was only a one person fail, versus all 3. Because the 1 failed attempt at doing something fun was Sullivan.
He refused to have a picture with them. Should I be myself and say, "I am not going to label Sully and assume that he's going to be a trouble maker when he's a teenager because he refused to have a picture taken with police officers?" I didn't think so. Except I do have to say he refused to take a picture with some soldiers at another event sometime back in August before school started.

I failed after I spent $ for the oldest to go do a 9hole mini golf that was part of this first ever river redo celebration. It was neat to see the mini golf set up as it was build and designed by the boy scouts of this town. Simple, and creative and just the way I like things.

I failed after I spent $ so that my middle and youngest could go jump in a bounce house with their cousin.
I failed.
Plan and simple.

Because I had to add one more level to this cake, way to much of a good thing, and took them out to eat after we went to this cute occasion in the downtown of where we live.
You guys, my 3 sons acted like douche nuggets in this restaurant. Mainly Ben. Although Jackson sure was a big groupie to the antics of Ben.

Don't even get me started on Sullivan.
I can list in detail the poor decision making skills they displayed this evening, but it's best to sum it up with 2 words for this event;
I failed.

Tonight, I became the one on stage and I heard another table (A Dad and Mom with their 2 kids) say, "it's a testament to how the parents do at parenting, based on how respectful their children are to them. I'm proud of how you're acting here."

Although I have to admit that this particular table had tween girls. Okayyyyy "Papa Don't Preach," Let's meet up when they're 16, shall we? Although I do agree with what he said to them, as much as I'm poking fun at what could be his future, it's nothing that I haven't said to my boys. I've used very similar words when I've been part of the 'Audience.'

What happened was that my children blatantly disrespected me tonight.
In front of their Aunt.
Their cousins.
The Public.

How do I do a better job at teaching respect?
I don't want to do it with 100% fear, although a certain amount of fear is necessary.
I don't want to do it with 100% control, although parenting with control is necessary too.
I don't want to do it with ignorance and closed for business ears, although sometimes it's best to turn your head and let them figure it out.
I don't want to enable. I don't want to make them victims.
I don't want to put soap in their mouths-but I will. I will spank too, although 100% of discipline based on spanking isn't necessary either.

Holy Uterus!! It was far easier caring for a fish with Pop Eye, then it was getting three boys to eat their very healthy french fries for Olive Oyl sakes.

Have I mentioned I'm BIG on the respect thing?
No matter why, what, or how, the fact remains that children need to be taught respect. They need to be taught self control, self love, self confidence, empathy, sympathy, giving, taking, loving, sharing, walking away.{ INSERT OTHER LESSONS HERE}

When they act like they did tonight, and disrespect me, not as teenagers, but boys that are 4, 6, and 8, it's not their blame, it's mine. I as the parent is failing.
I am failing.
I failed.
Well, I failed with this is the point I'm trying to get across.
I'm not sitting here crying about it, but what I am doing is trying not to over analyze it too much, and instead try to figure out how to make it better. How to mix the right balance of respect, self control, strictness, guidance and whatever else accompanies the chicken noodle soup of raising 3 very active noodles.

Children are not born with respect, they are taught it.

I'm looking for some more ideas in my own parenting wish bowl, because right now I've over analyzed it and cannot think past the image of the restaurant showdown tonight. I've got nothing to draw from my wish bowl jar, I'm clear out of ideas.

You've been part of the 'Audience' before, right? If so, what did you think, what did you do and what did you say you'd never do, "when you have/had kids."

You've been part of the 'Avoidance' fence post too, right? If so, tell me what you did.

You don't have to admit if you're been part of the pokey part of the fence such as I was this evening. Because that won't fix this. You are welcome to share them but you do not have to. What I'm looking for is ideas to put back into my very empty, yet dust free wish bowl.


Happyone :-) said...

I think you are being way too hard on yourself. It happens. Kids are just horrible at times. The best thing is to just take them home.
You seem to me to be a great mom!!

Jamie said...

Yep, I'm with Happy, above. Sometimes, kids just plain SUCK. And then, the next day, they don't. They need the basics, and you have done a very good job of that. However, it wouldn't hurt to let them know that you won't be taking them to any event such as yesterday, for quite awhile, and make sure they know why.

I have been escorted out of a grocery store by the children (the two boys) had six thousand hands that day.

Don't stress or worry about it any longer, it happens. To all of us. Hugs, honey.

KathyA said...

I had three all under the age of 4. They were well-behaved in public, but we didn't dine out frequently and when we did, went to places that were family-oriented and had really good service.
Had they been obnoxious we would have gotten up and left.