Friday, February 22, 2008

MPJ the Muse

MPJ and I have become very good online bffs, even though we have some rather differing views on many things; although we both love Hilary and hair-twirling so it's all good. It's more a Yin/Yang thing, the way I see it.

MPJ has recently posted her 'parenting manifesto' and thinking about how much she believes her thoughts differ from mine, as per my earlier post on irresponsible parents , she was eager to see my response. I'm happy to oblige, but the comment box would have been jammed full, so I thought it more appropriate to post my response. I don't absolutely disagree with Mary, but I do think differently about many things.

First of all disclaimer/disclosure; my views are based on the average, everyday kid, notwithstanding neurological or behavioral issues/disorders, which clearly are exceptions.

My experience with the issue comes from having 3 fantastic teenage boys, despite coming from a 'broken home' (and at one time, 3 boys under the age of 4 years, so there was definitely a need for some order and control, in order for me to retain any sanity). I was also once a ~ firm but lovingly parented ~ child myself after all. As well, I am the second-oldest (by 6 years) of 13 cousins in a very close-knit family, so I did my fair share of helping out with child care.

I do agree with Mary in that ultimately, we are who we are, and nothing I've done to this point has made my boys' basic personalities what they are today; and those personalities differ so much that you would think they grew up in completely different homes. I do take credit however, for their deep compassion, consideration and knowledge of right from wrong. When I was stopped in the grocery store with my 5 month old baby and 2 and 3 year old boys, to be told that it was "so refreshing" to see such nicely behaved little ones, I happily took credit (after all, the first time they tried such sillyness as behaving in an unruly manner or demanding items from the shelves, they were swiftly and surely shown the boundaries). They knew that if they behaved nicely, there would be a sucker or a Kinder Surprise for them to enjoy on the long drive home.

It is a fact that the most formative years are from birth to 5 years old. If we do not teach our children what is and what is not appropriate behaviour in that time, society does end up dealing with the fallout. Now please do not mistake that I mean one must do bodily harm to 'get control'. Often times, a stern word and an unpleasant consequence is plenty enough.

I was parented and did parent my boys in the old-school manner, when poor behaviour was simply not tolerated; spare the rod, spoil the child and all that. It was not 'who we were' or 'what were were supposed to be doing' to act out in pubic, back-talk, be impolite, or run rampant through department stores. There was a 'time and a place' for running, jumping, playing etc., and it was absolutely unacceptable to be disruptive or disrespectful, particularly in other peoples' homes or public places. This does not mean that I didn't misbehave, as children are apt to do. I was just like a child that way. I pushed boundaries and I was put back in my place.

Parenting, to me, is sort of like running a pack. I am alpha dog. I lead by example. It is my job as a parent to socialize my children appropriately. It is not acceptable for me to allow my children to do as they please, such as bothering one's things in their home or ruining some poor unsuspecting stranger's serenity while they're trying to accomplish some daily task such as shopping, simply because they are children. Left to their own devices, with no discipline or guidance, all children will behave like wild animals; they simply don't know better unless taught.

When my first boy was born, my aunt gave me the book Parenting Isn't for Cowards. This is an awesome book that advocates a stern, loving style of parenting. It is written by child psychiatrist James Dobson. One interesting story in the book covered boundaries, and tells of a study of a group of kindergarten children; when the movement toward children's freedom started to unfold, this particular school removed the fence surrounding the field, so as not to hem in these poor repressed beings. What they found was that these children no longer used the entire field for their play. Suddenly, they were huddled in the centre of the field, not venturing to the outer parameters. The conclusion drawn by this study was that children need clear boundaries to feel safe. Of course there is much much more to it, but that story serves as a metaphor. James Dobson also advocates corporal punishment in certain circumstances, and talks of the confusion children feel with no clear idea of what's expected of them, particularly when there is a lack of consistency.

As in any relationship, the parent/child relationship is about finding a balance that works in that unique situation. My boys were not all parented exactly the same, because they are not the same. My interactions with them were tailored to their individual personalities. The message was the same for each child, but the delivery was not necessarily the same when it came to discipline; my oldest boy was spanked, whereas my youngest never was.

Today there is an epidemic of confused, overindulged people, who believe that the world owes them something. This is absolutely due to irresponsible parenting (and schooling). They're stunned to find that they're no more special than the next person and they actually have earn respect in the real world. They really can and do fail!!? There is an epidemic of bullying and swarming, the likes of which have never been seen, and the worst of it is that it is now the girls who are doing a whole lot of the violet bullying these days (anything boys can do girls can do better right?). There is absolutely no doubt that children today are far more unruly than the children of past generations. This is direct result of the fact that too many parents simply aren't up to the task of properly disciplining their children; it is more important that little Johnny be happy than it is for him to have to be polite and well behaved. Parents have lost sight of the fact that Johnny can be happy and well behaved, and Johnny does not want you to be his buddy. He needs a parent who knows what it means to have to say "this hurts me more than it hurts you".

I just have to have my say on co-sleeping, because it is a pet peeve of mine. I personally believe the marital bed is just that. It is a place where husband and wife (or whatever other variation of spouses) have their own place. It is a place of lovemaking, closeness and intimacy that simply should not involve children (you do what you like, but my kids have wonderful, cozy beds of their own). Children are special and important, but we cannot forget that our spouses are special and that relationship requires love and nurturing every bit as much as the relationship with your children.

Thanks MPJ for giving me another reason to espouse my beliefs! Loving you....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Five of My Charming Idiosyncrasies

A while back, I read MPJ's list of sensory issues
and since she was too tired to tag anyone, I took it upon myself to tag me. I don't really have sensory issues, but it occurred to me that I do have some oddities. Here are a few:

1. I twirl my hair. Constantly. I roll it and twirl it and twist it into knots. There are special areas of my hair that are favourites ~ somehow, softer silkier hair than the rest ~ to manipulate. It is somewhat compulsive and quite feverish when I'm stressed or angry. When I'm happy, relaxed or merely thinking, it's slow lazy twirl. My man tells me he can place my mood by the manner in which I play with my hair. When I was about 12, my rather mean stepmother told me that it was a sign of schizophrenia, which had me terrified; this leads me to number;

2. I am frightened of mental illness, particularly of suffering from mental illness. In the city that I live, there is an abundance of mentally ill 'street urchins'. Our weather is so beautiful it attracts the homeless, who would obviously rather sleep outdoors in a warm climate. Certain areas of town make me nervous because of the mentally ill, and the drugged out. This lack of control makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Speaking of lack of control;

3. I am a control freak; my chronic anxiety is surely the worst symptom of this. My anxiety attacks take the form of feeling as though I'm going to 'lose it', perhaps start crying or screaming, or maybe light myself on fire and run through the streets, thereby making a 'fool of myself', which would be a fate worse than death. In the past, my control issues would have me obsessing over my home, making sure it was clean enough that you could eat off any surface (including bathroom surfaces) at any given time, if you so chose to do such an odd thing. I had this fear that a neighbour or friend might stop by and see that there was some form of mess in my home and they might feel I was not controlling my environment appropriately. This was no small feat with 3 boys under the age of 4, a large dog and a husband who enjoyed clutter! I've come a long way with that one. (um, I suppose this is a mental illness isn't it??)

4. I need to sleep on a certain kind of pillow. I simply cannot sleep without my viscoelastic pillow. When traveling, we actually take our pillows with. For years, I would wake up with aching ears from laying on my pillow. I would 'fluff' my pillow, turn over and go back to sleep several times a night. It wasn't until I was with my current mate that I finally learned the reason for this, and that all are not created equal in the world of ears. C is a former professional UFC fighter. His ears are fine, but I noticed that some of his friends who also fought, have these messed up 'cauliflower' ears. It turns out that the more cartilage you have, the worse they get damaged by being smashed into all the time. So this is why my ears hurt. I have more cartilage than your average person. My ears are snugged up all tight and taut against my head, solid but for the lobe. If I were to take up 'grappling', they would be ruined. Good thing I'm not interested in that idea.

5. Speaking of sleeping; I cannot abide pilly sheets. My sheets must be washed every 2nd or third day and they must be silky soft, with nary a mark or a wrinkle. I actually used to iron my sheets, but I don't do that anymore; a friend of mine saw me ironing my sheets once and she reacted as though I was rather crazy, so I stopped.

I'm going to stop at 5, because I'm starting to be concerned by how strange I actually seem to be!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Love Scout

I have been completely vacant of ideas for posting recently. I want to post really interesting, funny, wise, thought-provoking material that makes me seem smart and makes you love me, but I just can't seem to think of anything (I'm sorry I'll try harder and do better). So much going on and so much time in the talky box (hehe, don't mention the box!).

Scout gave me this award today though and I couldn't wait to post it!!! I love Scouter! She's the awesomest of all my blogger bff's and this award is so touching. Even though it was given to all of us, I still feel special.


Now I'm going to go gt ready for our romantic weekend getaway. I'm so excited! Tomorrow is snowboarding and then dinner and then on Sunday....massages. wohooo!!!