2005-10-07 - 9:47 a.m.
I'm once again just amazed at Westley's parenting genius. There is that fine line they speak of between genius and insanity, and when he comes up with parenting methods my initial reaction that I have to curb is almost ALWAYS "YOU ARE INSANE!"
But I have learned to reserve judgement, keep my mouth shut, and let him parent.
(THat wasn't always the case!)
Last night, after weeks of reminders to the girls that LIGHTS HAVE TO BE SHUT OFF when you leave a room, he laid down the law and announced: "That's it. We are going to end this bad habit ! We had a $400 electric bill last month! I am giving three warnings. If you leave the lights on three times between now and CHRISTMAS, you won't get Chistmas presents!"
This morn he came downstairs and said "WARNING # 1. Someone left the light on in the bedroom upstairs."
OOPS that was SADIE who had just run down to show me her writing of Hellowgaket WHich really was YELLOW JAcket, although the Y did look like a H that was missing it's right line, and she hadn't yet caught onto the concept of SPACES between words. THis morn she discovered picture cards with words on them she can copy! SHe and I were so into the idea of learning about SPACES and also the COOLNESS that when she drew a picture of a YELLOW colored jacket I then drew a BUG.... you get the idea. Lights and energy bills just were not on our minds.
So the consequence was made clear again. And then the funniest thing happened! I was cooking in the kitchen, Westely was showering in the nearby parlor shower (THE ONE WHICH RENDERS WATER PRESSURE PROBLEMS SO at the time I was washing my hands in the pot of water that just happened to be there as it was soaking from the night berore! I'm sure he's find that gross... but hey he wanted me to make breakfast to help him be on time as he got in from travel last night and was tired and awoke late.)
I was hysterical, laughing so hard I couldn't speak as I tried to relate this to WEstely through the shower curtain. I think I got the message out as when she NEXT went into the bathroom and SHUT THE LIGHTS OUT ON HIM he responded:
By then I was laughing so hard I was crying.
I thought it a great justice he get to shower in the dark!
And at the same time was just amazed once again by his brillance.
He'll have the problem of leaving lights on nipped in the bud for the three, four and five year old within the week no doubt.
AND I'll tell you a little secret: THese kids get SO MANY CHRISTMAS GIFTS from Grandprrents's and Aunts and Uncles that WESTELY and I haven't actually had to SHOP for Christmas for the little ones in years! We just head to the basement stash of things the relatives bought that were stashed away as they were age inappropriate at the time and find the new stuff that they are then ready for! We always feel A LITTLE Guily recycling Grandma (WESTLEY's MOM's) gifts, as the ones from us THAT IS, until we visit them again and the kids are just showered with more toys than they know what to do with at the time! We stash a few away and bring them out (letting them know who those are from!) in the months following Christmas, with the exception of the ones that are not age appropriate that we hold and "recycle"!
And the girls already got their lovely matching red pea coats for this winter! (Can you tell I feel a bit guilty still!)
Oh and then there is always the gifts from SANTA who is fantastic at KNOWING JUST WHAT They want and giving it to them! Maybe we'll be lucky this year and get requests like last years ones for a slinky, a Christmas mug and something else so basic and simple which gave such joy. (Maybe it was a balloon?)
Thinking of Westley's parenting, this morn did remind me of the final resolution of Soren's years of being in the bad habit of being a pathalogical liar. HE was getting TOO OLD to still be doing that, and after doing all sorts of things as incentives for telling the truth and following all the MODERN PARENTING ADVICE, including that which says kids lie as they are AFRAID of punishment, I finally one year GAVE UP MY RESISTANCE to allowing WESTELY to parent his way. I decieded to allow his to SUPPLEMENT with his Attempt at addressing Soren's lying. I had first thought it CRUEL. BUT after NOTHING ELSE WAS WORKING, and Soren was getting too old to be standing there telling me "I did pick all the burrs off my sweater" NOT BECAUSE HE WAS IN AFAID OF being in trouble... as he hadn't been disciplined for lying, but because HE WAS CONVINCING HIMSELF that there were no more burrs as HE JUST DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT... and I stood and MADE HIM TOUCH them and HE still resisted the reality that there were some there... when I read about lying in kids and how it is a REAL WORRY and CONCERN when kids at his age (I think seven?) do this. And when Soren himself KNEW it was a chronic problem and WANTED TO STOP but he couldn't seem to know how.... Well then I sat back and watched Westely's parenting magic: Now it may seem cruel, but SOREN NOW IS AN HONEST KID to my belief! So I decided one moment of making Soren upset would in the scheme of things BE WORTH IT IF IT WORKED and saved him YEARS of PAIN brought forth from being a liar! So that year when SANTA left candy in everyone's stocking, and a lump of coal in SOREN's along with a poem about being honest and trying harder.... the coal was a difficult thing for me to support (I wrote the poem thinking it was at least a bit kinder!) but I was just AMAZED at HOW IT WORKED !! Soren was one of those kids WHO STILL BELIEVED IN SANTA! And yes he had tears and was upset, but the kid STOPPED LYING. HE needed that EXTERNAL MOTIVATION which nothing else provided! I got sick of setting up positive reinforcers that he just couldn't earn! Westely had pointed out that the TRADITION OF COAL IN STOCKINGS came from SOMEWHERE... it isn't a myth because NO PARENTS ever used that as a reinforcing parenting tool! WESTLEY LOVES SANTA as he is the ulimate parental authority for kids when we are not ourselves effective enough, and the FEAR OF THE LORD which used to work so much is not as effective since we don't believe in the fire and brimstone and SPARE THE ROD SPOIL THE CHILD type of teaching that goes along with that! SO SANTA works for us! That was the last straw in kicking the lying habit! AND IT WORKED!
I swear this is in fact the easiest time of year for parenting!