Thursday, December 29, 2011

Six (or so) Easy Steps to Taming Your Feral Child

In doing some research for my blog and it's new direction, I came across a whole bunch of blogs written by Moms.  However, most blogs are written by happy stay-at-hom moms with small children and talk about crafts and their latest trip to Disney and poopy diapers.  That ain't me.  I'm past that phase.  I'm worrying about my kids applying to colleges and staying away from kids who steal their parent's liquor at the moment.

Oh, I know how that world is, I was there once, sans the Disney trips.  You think you're the first one to ever have cute little kids and enjoy being a happy family, and you think we are all eager to hear about your kids... endlessly.  Oh, no offense to those moms, I've just been there, you want to share your joy.  But I just wanted to say that sometimes in reading about all the cutsie wootsie stories you tell of all the adorable things that little McKenzie did... I think, I would have booted the kid across the room.

And then the mommies even make jokes about being at their wits end with said adorable child.  Oh honey, I feel like that everyday, but it's not from having annoying kids it's from having busy kids.  Oh my children aren't perfect, I just figured out how to nip bad behavior in the bud.  I'll still get cranky kid attitude steered my way once in a while, but I don't get disrespect.  Want to know how?

Well, buy my book!

No, just kidding.  That's how the pitch usually goes... brings you right to the brink, and then chops you off at the knees, just like a girl in a short skirt.

Well, I'll tell you how, because I'm nice like that. (donations accepted, though)  Parents... stay in control.  Ain't no child ever paid attention to or respected a screaming, cussing parent.  Did you when you were a kid?  When my Mother went off, I just thought she was crazy, and as I got older... embarrassing.  But when she just stopped and looked me in the eye, oh I had the fear of God in me.  Oh and the worst was when she was just quiet and told me I had dissappointed her.  OH!  Stab stab stab in the heart!

Easy Steps for when your child talks back or has a tantrum:

1.  Physically get down to eye to eye level with them.
2.  Talk to them calmly, yet firmly, maintain direct eye contact.  (you can't sound like Mr. Rogers, you must   be firm)  If they look away, say "you need to look at me".
3.  State with authority that that behavior is not acceptable and we do not do that in this house.
4.  Ask them if they heard you and to repeat it.
5.  Tell them when they can act in a civil manner, you will discuss it or continue whatever.
6.  Stand up and continue what you were doing.  (unless there's blood to clean up or something)

If a problem is more involved you may need to discuss it with them.  For instance, "Would you like it if I threw a Matchbox Car at you?"  Or "Why would you deliberately take the paints out after I told you no?".  Sometimes "No, because I said so" isn't the best answer.  Kids need to learn logic and reason.  Explain to them "We don't have enough time to paint, becuase we are having guests for dinner and I need the table".

Adults, do you feel better after someone explains why they said no, rather than just saying no?  I rest my case.  "Can I have a raise?"  "No."  My first thought is "I suck".  But after they tell me they lost money in the 4th Q and just can't, then I accept it.

I won't lie, it takes a great deal of patience on the parent's part.  Oh and , some kids may still flip out, it's not a cure all.  But if you remain calm and CONSISTENT, I can almost guarantee you'll see the behavior improve over time.  It needs to start as soon as they start talking though.  Just laughing off that behavior because they are "little" only creates monsters. (Have we not all learned anything from Toddlers and Tiaras?)  It's never too early to start expecting respectable behavior from a child.  Most important thing is, don't stoop to their level!  Yea, I know we all have our limits, but even if you do have a flip out, apologize to the child and use it as a lesson that we all get stressed out, you know how the child feels.  Keep the faith and have a cocktail after they go to bed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chill Out, it's Just Christmas Not a Death Penalty Trial

I've seen so many Facebook and Twitter posts lately that state how stressed out people are with the holidays.  I was about to call the suicide prevention hotline for one woman, she seemed so on edge.  I also saw another post that was so smug about how far ahead she was of the game with all her shopping and wrapping, I wanted to throw a shoe at her.

For the record, I would just like to state...


Notice, I didn't say holidays?  I just said Christmas.  Ya' know why?  Because I've never heard any of my Jewish friends stress out about Hannukah!  Ok, I've only heard one Jewish friend complain but it was just mostly about having to get on a plane to see her older parents who like to eat the early bird at Howard Johnson's.  Which, is usually purely for comedic value. However, she never complained about buying presents and decorating.  Jewish folks make it simple, no tree, no decorations, one simple light fixture, eight days of presents so in case you forget something the first few nights... no pressure.

Kwanzaa, I admit I hardly know anything about and I don't know anyone personally who celebrates it.  And most things I've read about it, anyone who does celebrate it, they celebrate Christmas too, it's not like it's an exclusive thing.  I also believe it focuses on virtues and stuff like that, so again the principal is not about sweating stocking stuffers.

So, in the spirit of this being an adult survival guide, my advice to you is... chillax.  What gets done, will get done.  No one will notice that you forgot to put out your Wayne Newton dressed as Santa statuette.  No one will notice that you only made a batch of sugar cookies and not peanut butter cookies.  The kids won't care if you wrapped their stocking stuffers or didn't wrap their stocking stuffers.  Just try to enjoy the spirit of Christmas, family and friends. (yes, even if you hate your family)

And you might even say, "What about the kids?  It's important for the kids."  Guess what?  The kids will get over it.  I believe you might be teaching your kids a far more valuable lesson in life if they don't get everything they want this year.  I kid you not, there were years my kids got construction paper or earrings or mittens from the Dollar Store.  I cried and cried.  Yes, I feel terrible that I can't give my children everything I want, but my children have learned that life isn't fair and to be thankful for what they do get.  I'd like to think I won't be raising a bunch of spoiled ingrates.  Oh believe me many times in my heart I wish I could raise spoiled ingrates just so they have nice things, but I realize the life lesson is ok too, and will last a lifetime, unlike an iPod.

Hey, didn't that Christmas angel say, "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men"?  THAT's what it's about!  Please everyone, spread peace and good will to others, and accept peace yourself.  That's really the key, peace within yourself, and it's uncanny how it spreads to others.  Take a deep breath and relish the simple joys.  And remember, you will not be put to death by lethal injection if the silverware isn't polished or the stuffing is dry.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus, Happy Kwanzaa to all and to all a good night!  Peace!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let the New Blog and Life Begin...

So, I'm on a mission.  I think I've figured this out.  The last couple of years I have been floundering with this blog.  Wondering how to still be funny but with less raunch, more purpose.  I have been trying to decide which direction to take, what focus I'd like to have.  In essence I've been wanting to re-brand myself.

My Myspace blog years ago, to which I had a rather large following, (over 800 followers) was focused mostly on my dating and parenting life post divorce.  That was pretty easy since I hadn't been in a relationship for years.  But really, how long can you write about that?  It gets old after a while. Besides, my kids are teens now, I don't want them reading my dating exploits, and I'm sure it would be a major creep factor for them. 

Think, think, think.  What else do I know about?  Well, it kind of hit me today... I know about survival.  For those of you who know me, know that I have had quite a struggle over the past eleven years, well ok 20 years.  For those of you who don't, here's a not entirely brief synopsis:

I thought I married a really nice, well educated, successful engineer and ex Div. I hockey player.  But in 2000, I got out of a marriage to an eventual verbally abusive, alcoholic man, who had an affair on me while I was pregnant with our third child.  Well back up a little, after a job transfer moved us from NY to Denver in 2000, where I didn't know a soul and had three children ages 6, 3, and 14 months. we divorced and he quickly moves in with the girl he had an affair with.  He buys them a home and starts spending all his money on them.  I'm stuck to find whatever rental I can afford.  I had to keep finding jobs where I could take care of my children 90% of the time because he always traveled with his job.  I had been a stay at home mom for 5 years, I could only get crap jobs, I was in radio and TV before that.  I kept having to quit before I got fired because I'd have childcare problems.   In 2004 he moved back East, leaving me in Denver to raise them alone, making monthly visits, which towards the end were cut short with kids calling me crying.

I was a realtor at the time and the bust hit Denver in 2006.  I could no longer afford to live there and I was losing my mind raising the children alone.  So I moved back to Rochester at the end of 2006 with the promise from my ex that there would be all kinds of help from him and his parents.  I started over, trying to find jobs, etc.  Things were looking up after about a year, I decided to go back to school while working a decent job, then my ex went off the deep end.  He sunk deep into his alcoholism and disappeared, skipped town, stopped paying support, stopped talking to the kids and me.  The children were devastated.  He did have his moments of being a good Dad, and they missed that.

That was over 2 years ago.  I had to quit a job because it was a half hour drive and couldn't be that far from my kids with no other help, and they weren't happy with me because I was a mess.  I was having a nervous breakdown. First I lost half my income with losing child support, then I was jobless, I was left with a pile of extra bills he was supposed to be paying (braces, sports, etc.) got evicted, had to apply for foodstamps, medicaid, free lunch at school, and clean friend's toilets to get gas money.  There was even a point where I had absolutely no income before I got approved for aid, that was a complete nightmare. But I did lose 20 lbs from not being able to afford food!  Hollah!  (Important Tip: always look for silver lining)

Blah, blah, blah, there were many years before that of having to rescue my kids from torturous behavior by their Dad that I won't even go into.  Eventually I collected myself, got a few part-time jobs, then after a couple years re-directed myself into resuming my marketing career, and worked my way up to finding a full-time contract job (no benefits).  My kids are thriving, they are all A students, and active in sports and music/theater.  My oldest is a senior and has applied to some of the best colleges in the country.  I got financial aid all by myself for my kids to go to 2 of the best schools in the area, because they had the grades and drive to go.  And amazingly we've talked our way through this and stuck together and have all remained well grounded.  Nobody has started acting out, not even me.  Ok, well I couldn't have gotten through this without cocktails now and then, but I'm an adult, I'm allowed.  And most importantly friends and family, couldn't have made it through without them either.  Oh and one other thing, I didn't seek out a man to save me.  Although, a few years and pounds ago, that stripper pole was looking like it could be a way to eat.

So, why the long story?  (what's sad is that I left a whole bunch of stuff out, oy)  To give you background on what I know.  How to survive.  My blog will be about how to survive adulthood.  I will touch on all the adult subjects: financial, emotional, parenting, dating/relationships, jobs.  I don't have all the answers, but I can share my experiences and tips for making it through some tough spots, all with a little laughter.  Because really humor makes it all bearable.  At the very least, let my life and this blog serve as an example of what mistakes not to make.  :)  Happy Holidays!