Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Birthdays and Teenagers and Houses, Oh My!

Last night, we took the kids to the house we saw on Sunday. They were thrilled, running around and fighting over bedrooms and playing little possibilities in their heads. Pretty much what adults do in those situations, only less apologetically. By the end of the tour, however, Tyler was starting to develop an attitude.

In the car on the way home, the question of ice cream with the homemade blackberry pie was raised, and I said I would stop and get some on the way home. The kids had been involved in some sort of distracting wrestling match in the back seat, and I had already warned them that if I had to reprimand either of them once more, there would be no ice cream.

Tyler, who had been pointing out fault in the extreme all day long, said that we should have stopped at Husky Deli for the ice cream. I replied that it was too far back to warrant turning around. He then chose to tell me that we had been closer to Husky at one point (in that very accusatory way that says, "not only are you not giving me what I want, you're stupid for not giving it to me.").

Which warranted a reprimand. Which meant no ice cream. Which meant tears from Kayleigh and a stream of verbal abuse from Tyler, which included the shock of my life: being repeatedly called an asshole in front of my daughter and girlfriend (who sat quietly in the passenger seat, looking shocked).

Now, keep in mind that Sam & I were all about attachment parenting and creating as non-corporal an environment as we could. Even so, Tyler has been spanked upon occasion by both Sam and myself (although not for years now), and as a parent who has tried both corporal and non-corporal methods, I can honestly say that corporal methods do not work and have never worked, with me or either of my children. So, when dealing with genius level kids in a non-corporal household, we are maneuvering on a much higher, cerebral plane.

I was very proud of myself. I told Tyler that he needed to shut his mouth immediately for his own good, and that when we got home he was to go immediately to his room pending a very intense discussion of his atrocious behavior and what penalty he would pay. My tone was ominous and authoritative, and I could tell by the way both kids shrunk back in their seats that it was being effective. But I never once lost my cool. No slamming of brakes, no fist flying wildly into the back seat in some half-assed macho disciplinary motion.

We got home and Tyler went to his room, and I consoled Kayleigh, then said goodbye to Raechelle after she assured me that I'd done the right thing and that, contrary to the way I feel sometimes, I am a good father. I informed Tyler of the severity of his transgression, and put him on restriction for the rest of the week, and took away his cell phone for a whole day (Tyler responds to gadget deprivation much more strongly than to physical coercion). After that, he was docile and contrite, and he went to bed shortly thereafter.

Kayleigh has a birthday camping trip to attend this afternoon, but before that can happen, we need to get her cell phone SIM card replaced and get to the store for a gift for her friend.

I got the inspection report from the home we looked at, and there is an action item list that will need to be attended to. A potentially expensive list at that. So I don't know how possible a move will be at this point, unless one of our projects gets a green light and I start drawing a regular paycheck again.

On the upside, four days to California!


Ali said...

We're a non-corporal punishment household too. I've often wanted to change this, as corporal punishment is so much easier. Shame it's so ineffective. Consequential parenting is really taxing on the parents, but I really believe it's the most effective on all sorts of levels.

You're doing a great job Todd and (this is the hardest part) in a few years time you'll reap the rewards. Delayed gratification is such bummer :)


Ann said...

Kids are hardwork and you're doing a great job! We figured out that non-corporal punishment worked much better on M & V pretty early on. It's tough work, though (as you already know) but it's worth it. They're at a tough stage right now but you've given them (and continue to give them) all the right stuff to grow into smart, capable adults. They're lucky to have you! :)