(This is going to sound really self-congratulatory for a minute, but I swear I'm going somewhere with it...)
I would like to ramble on a bit about discipline. I get asked a lot about how I discipline my children, I guess because if you were to meet us for the first time, out somewhere, perhaps in public, you would meet 2 very well behaved boys. The girl? She's one. I haven't had enough time with her yet.
My boys refer to adults with a Mr. or Ms. in front of their name. I hate hate hate when kids address adults in a casual manner. It's rude. Sorry, that's just how I feel. They know please and thank you and may I and all that good stuff. This is very misleading to passers-by, causing them to think I am the proud mother of angels straight from heaven.
And when people ask me what I do, what my secret recipe is, the only thing I have ever been able to reply with is this: They're kinda scared of me. I don't fuck around.
I don't do time-outs. I never could grasp it. Nor do I spank, though my kids, I am quite sure, would argue that point with me. I definitely use the threat of the spanking as a bargaining chip. But, being beaten to a bloody pulp most of my life, I get it that spankings suck. We have a spanking rule. 3 swats, butt only, emergencies only. You ran into traffic? Spanking worthy. You traded daddies WWII pistol for new Yu Gi Oh cards? Totally spanking worthy. We agree on this, we stick to this. That way, it's predictable. Ifin's they get a spanking, they know what's coming. Though, honestly, it's been so damn long since they've gotten one, I don't imagine they can remember what the deal is with one. But I am sure they have vague memories of them and I KNOW that they remember that if I say they're getting one, then one is what they get.
That's the other thing I do. I never, ever say something's going to happen that doesn't. If I tell you that the next time you stick your french fry up your sister's nose you're going to bed, then you will go to bed. Period. My boys also know this and they do not test it.
I am not big on the large punishments. My kids have never had their bottoms swatted with anything but my hand. They have never gone to bed without dinner. Yet. They have never had to throw every toy in their room in the trash (though they almost did once, but I'm saving that for when they are 15 and have bigger attitudes and more expensive toys). I have never sent them to their room for an arbitrary amount of time. Some people do time-outs, or go-to-your-rooms, by the one minute for every year of life guidelines. That, also, has never jived with me. I do, instead, go to your room until you can behave like a decent human being. If it takes them 2 minutes, great. If it takes them 45 minutes, tough. But they had better be back to normal before they come down. I like this because it takes it off of me a little, in that it lets them dictate their own punishment. It doesn't force them to be sweet and pleasing before they are ready, which never, ever works. And it doesn't force them to sit in their room steaming at me because they have calmed down and are still being punished for no good reason. They both, however, have eaten their fair shares of soap and I have one thing to say about that: Totally. Underrated. Punishment. My oldest has done it once, and will never, ever repeat that offense again. 2of3 has done it 2 times, because he's slower to catch on. He is downright afraid of it. That one gets saved for the biggies: cursing and lying. I am mildly annoyed by the cursing, but goddamn it I fucking hate the lying.
My point is that I have the discipline thing down to a science. I know what works for our family. And my kids know who's boss. It is, in short, not a democracy 'round here. I don't ever get to 3. If I say "one", they jump. One seems to mean, "oh shit, we're fucked". Sometimes I get to "two". Two seems to mean, "this is gonna hurt". I have never, ever once made it to three. I couldn't guess what they think three means.
I give them input on things around the house: what chores are best for them and what we eat for dinner and such, and then I try to lay out my expectations as openly as I can. We discuss screw-ups and try to figure out how to do better next time.
I say all of this because all of this is quickly taking a leap out the window. I'm at the point with my kids where I have to re-format, and I am at a loss. 1of3 is at that tween age, where my opinion means less and less, where his emotions are getting the better of him. He is starting to see me as fallible, and that is when the fun starts. Still, he is a thousand times better than 2of3. That boy, man, that boy is making me mumble. He's got this over-blown middle child syndrome thing going on. We've all been pretty lax on him, considering that the last year sucked ass for him and all of us, but sheesh. When he sits down to dinner, unless it's McDonald's or Hamburger Helper, he gags. He gags. He nags at me all day long. He doesn't ever say one sentence that doesn't include "can I?". He deliberately disobeys me on big things, like, oh, I don't know...like putting his little wanker on the foot massager in the middle of the living room? Come. On. I get it, your a boy, you've got that thingy, you have to mess with it. But in the living room? Seriously? And I can't punish him for messing with his weiner unless I want to give him a complex and so I have to get creative. After I sent him to his room for what I planned on being the rest of his life, I stopped, thought and figure it out. I called him down.
"Dude, exactly how many times have I asked you to do that in your room?"
"Exactly how many times TODAY have I asked you to not do that in my living room?"
"That's right. And now you get thirty minutes in your room for each time you ignored me today."
Crisis averted. One less therapy bill to pay for. My point in all of this? Well, I think it's this: I run a really tight ship here. I have rules, I expect them to be followed. I try to use some common sense in that. I feel like I've done a really good job with these kids. But lately there have been whispers of mutiny. The oldest one? I'm not so worried. He's left-handed. Logic works on him. But that middle one? Man, he's slipping through my fingers. He's testing me and defying me and pushing me and has turned into this ungrateful, unsatisfiable monster. Nothing is good enough for him. He makes me debate every bite of food he eats and bemoans every gift he is given because it's not big enough or good enough. And I am at a loss. I have to tighten the straps a bit and I am not so terribly excited about it. I like being the kind of parent I am. I like having them participate in their upbringing, to a degree. But I think I have to turn into bitchy mom for a while, just long enough to remind him who's boss. I know I can do it, I also know I don't want to. Yeah, my boys are a little scared of me, as they should be, but we have always kind of done this together. It's time for me to step out of my comfort zone and I think this kid needs his wings clipped for a while.
And that sucks.