Saturday, February 10, 2018

Be nice, or go to bed!

    Every parent has made this statement in utter frustration at one time or another.
    Unfortunately, it is not one of those teachable moments either, and more or less makes little or no impact on permanently correcting a child’s behavior. You lash out first, and get nothing in the form of results.
     For starters, I will own up that I have borrowed this title, “Be Nice or go to Bed,” from a writer friend’s post on Facebook. He has young school age children, and I can picture what must have led up to that final snap. Two working parents, plus tired, fussy kids equal a significant meltdown including casting the puppy into the act, too.
     Maybe not. These particular parents are soft-spoken, intelligent and take their child-rearing seriously.   There might have been another whole scene playing out. Could company have been there, and children being children, have a way of getting in each other’s hair at the wrong time? Brothers and sisters are like that.
     I can surmise all I want. I’ll leave it at that.  
     The further you get away from raising young children, the more you can laugh over those words and say to yourself, “been there, and done that.”
     Which puts me in that category of battle fatigued older adults with much sympathy for my younger friends with kids.
     Just to make it clear, the writer gave me permission to use those words, too, since the phrase caught my attention and made me chuckle.  Those of us that write are sensitive to gently reusing other people’s words verbatim. Personally, it’s a line I will not cross.
     From here on out, I am on my own with this column.

      You should know better. That’s my second least favorite thing to say to a kid.      
     You’ve shouted that phrase out, too, and wished you could take the words back before they are out of your mouth. Don’t deny it.  
     Idle threats are useless. How’s a child to know whatever it is they are suppose to know if they aren’t taught right from wrong?
     I used to yell at my daughter at various stages in her life, “you’ll never learn.”  Well, she did.
     Or you’ve threatened to take away the device for an ungodly amount of days until you realize what an impossible task you’ve imposed. You’ll be the one to suffer as the meany rule giver and now you’ve added more gray to your already dulling hair.
   Play fair.
    Children’s work at school learning to socialize and often this comes in the form of play. There are rules to be followed.
    As adults, we’re the ones to set a good example. Members of Congress haven’t gotten it yet, but then I might go off on a tangent and get political. Not going to do it.
     Life isn’t fair.
     How’s that going to help your bawling child when he comes running off the bus having lost out in a spelling bee?  A few hugs and kisses while listening is the better medicine to swallow when disappointment rears its ugly head. It comes more often than not, too.
    Be good and everything will turn out fine.
     Hah. It doesn’t take a child too many years to figure out that statement is a simple lie and adults can’t be trusted to tell the honest truth. Kids are a lot smarter than we want to give them credit.
    I’m going to tell your father (mother) when he (she) gets home.
     That was ringing in my ears all my childhood until I figured out that I could save myself by rushing down to my father’s store a mile away to tell him my side of the story first. My father would hear me out, and call my mother to get her view. I didn’t get away with much obviously. My parents were on the same page.
    Savvy modern parents favor talking issues through with their children, and giving them time out. Those paddling’s of yesteryear are nowhere in vogue. You and I could debate that one, too.
    ‘No’ means ‘no’ for real.
     There was a decade where parents questioned if saying ‘no’ to a child would harm his little psyche. There were workshops on how to say ‘no’ to your child and build healthy minds. I don’t think “the feel good” way of child rearing lasted too long.
    Recently I was in a restroom at JFK airport and a mother was busy applying some refreshing make-up while leaving her preschool son to his own devices.  Like any unsupervised child that hasn’t had discipline much in his life, he started pulling paper towels off the roller and laughingly throwing it on the floor in clumps. I looked over at the mother and she wasn’t paying any attention to her child.
     I had a couple choices. I could ignore his behavior, or get involved. I knew I would be taking the risk that I would get told to mind my own business, too.
     You can guess the choice I made.
     I firmly said, “stop it.”
     The boy looked up at me like he was hearing a foreign language. He checked his mother for her reaction.
     Mom’s soft-spoken reply,  “don’t do that,” was useless in my book. I walked out. Some battles can’t be won.
     I watched the squirmy boy later in the terminal and he was one handful. I went back to my computer and ignored him.
     In a decade where there is an overall lack of respect for traditions and other folks, combined with a general casualness about life, let’s make a correction back to the center.