Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy New Year - Let's get busy!

I know I'm coming in a solid 18 days late, but Happy New Year!

Before I start firing off about the specific thoughts in my head, I would like to take a small moment and go over how you should pronounce the current year. If you have read this somewhere else, please feel free to skip to the next section. However, if you're one of those people who isn't quite sure how to say the current year when speaking to others, please take a moment and indulge yourself in this community service message.

We have grown accustomed to saying "Two-Thousand and..." for the past nine years. If you shortened it, I'm sure you've said, "Oh [number]" as in "Oh-nine". This, however, should be erased from your memory for the next 90 years.

To start, I'd like you to say out loud (or in your head if you're in the office and people would think you a freak.) (unless they already do... then out loud is fine) (and probably expected)(... freak)


How did you say it? Probably "Eighteen Ten", which is exactly the correct way of saying it. Let's try another:


Now how did you say that one? If you said "Nineteen Ten" then you're doing great. Let's do one more:


This one is tricky. If you said, "Two Thousand and Ten" then I should smack you in your little melon head. Why in god's name would you purposely add 2 extra syllables to the pronunciation of the current year?

The correct way to say this year is: "Twenty Ten". Look at that amazingness! Only 3 syllables and a consistency through the ages.

Now you won't look like a colossal douche-bag when you say the date to your friends.

You're welcome.

But that really isn't the point of today's post...

Let's all beat the crap out of our kids.

Straight up!

Punishment is never a fun topic to talk about, especially with friends. We all have our own ways and our differing opinions on the topic and sometimes it even gets to the level of religion or politics when the discussion comes up in a group setting.

I like the generalize the crap out of people (helps my little mind understand oddities), so I've come up with a list (squeee!) of the typical groupings of parents with their ideas of punishment.

- The "my child is an angel" parent.
No, no your kid is not. All kids are hellions with spacklings of cute. I've seen your kid scream and cry when he doesn't get his way. What you're doing is raising a child who is destined to victimize themselves throughout life and demand that all things should be handed to them while in turn they think that they are flawless.
Expert Level: Your child is a full blown narcissist.

- The "if I ignore it, it goes away" parent.
Go ahead, turn the TV up louder. If you can't hear it, it must not exist. Maybe stay at work extra late so you don't have to deal with it when you get home since they'll be asleep. Turn your back in the store and pretend that it's someone else's kid (pretty sure the clinging to your pant leg is a total give-away though). Your child will be lucky if they grow up at all.
Expert Level: You leave your kid at the store.

- The "my child fell down the stairs" parent.
Calling DCFS, calling DCFS, coming DCFS - we have a "person" who isn't worth the dirt I walk on. In all seriousness, if you've ever purposely and intentionally hurt your child to the point of injury, consider not being a parent anymore, cause I'm pretty sure I just stopped considering you a human.
Expert Level: Let's not go there.

- The "threaten with no follow through" parent.
Now this one I see a lot of, and I understand that you have to pick your battles wisely, but I'm focusing on the parents that ONLY punish this way. Maybe it's the hope that the threat will be enough to properly train a child. Here's a little news flash: It's not. Kids are smart. Wicked freaking smart. And they can totally tell when you're full of shit. Then, they'll start manipulating situations so that you threaten them, and they play "hurt", and then they still get their way. You're training your child that warnings in life don't apply to them.
Export Level: "High Voltage" signs excluded your child.

- The "emotional rage" parent.
These are also pretty common (at least when I was growing up it was common). The child (remember, they're all hellions) goes off and does something sassy or stupid that really pisses you off. Then, in the whirlwind of rage you fly off the broom handle you rode in on and unleash the fury of pent-up aggression from all aspects of life through a wooden spoon or a belt or the hand soap in the bathroom.
Export Level: Screaming and anger no longer faze your child.

Obviously this is satirical...

... but I'm sure we've all crossed the borders of some of these here and there.

I have this feeling, though, that the general thought of discipline and punishment is becoming more of a taboo and I can't help but feel a little sad about that. Why WOULDN'T you punish your child? To not punish your child for their stupid and out of line actions only exacerbates the pussification of America. I don't know if you've noticed but we've become some pretty hard-core sissies lately.

Humans are stubborn to learn and quick to forget.

Think about the times in your life when your outlooks and views and actions throughout life really changed. During that period of change, was it emotionally easy? No, probably not. The emotionally and psychological turmoil was, no doubt, the reason for the change. But kids to don't the "hard-knock" life, as they say. They don't have bill collectors knocking down their door, or the lawman watching their every move. They don't have great responsibility to get food on the plate and shelter over the head. They pretty much play, eat, sleep, and poop... and if you're lucky to have an older kid - go to school.

That is what discipline is for... to, in a small way, create emotional and psychological turmoil in their own heads so that they don't do that dumbass thing anymore. But you have to understand that the turmoil is not going to be something you create, it has to be created in their head so that it burns an image onto their memory. As a parent, what you have to do is create a situation in which that turmoil gets conjured by them.

It's age specific too. Any kind of punishment or discipline for a 6 month old is a waste... they don't have the mental capacity to understand any sort of reasoning behind your actions. A full on spanking for a 1.5 year old is pretty worthless because they don't have the mental capacity to understand what the meaning behind the swat is. They can't create the turmoil from the action - all they create from that is fear. But a timeout - a removal of what they want to do - that creates turmoil. Spankings for a 3 year old actually mean something, because they "get it" and why you're doing it.

But it's not easy...

I recently gave my 1.5 year old a timeout. And she cried a mournful little wail from the timeout step that she was sitting on. Not only had I removed her from the situation she was in (I believe it was pulling all the DVDs off the shelf to create a little musical tap dance stage), but, to her, I had also abandoned her as I was walking away.

I hate that cry. I hate it because I know I'm the one who created the situation for her to feel smitten. But I'll never stop disciplining her for the things she shouldn't do. I would be doing her a disservice and ultimately taking away the opportunity for her to be a better person as she grows up.

Look at me writing like I actually know what I'm talking about. Maybe someone needs to spank me... anyone?... anyone? I need spankings!