Here we go again.

Affirmation

I was practicing my affirmation a few weeks ago – writing in the margins of my book. Every time the author instructed me to think positively about something, I wrote it in the margin. One of the things in my life bringing out the negative, is my difficulty having another child. So, instead of thinking like that, I was trying to train myself to use positive affirmations. I’m not saying it worked miracles or anything…but how’s this for timing?

Positive

Dear Marilyn, Thank you for letting me use your comments section to reveal my news before my family knew.

Talking to myself again.

Oh - sweet jesus.Dear 7th-Grade-Zoot,

The most important thing that I, the 32-year-old You, want to say is this: Ms. De will be the worst teacher you will ever have. It only goes up from here. I promise. She is not nice to you (and is super nice to all the other girls, WTF?) but you will have a long list of teachers you love from here on out. And they’ll love you. Some of them will touch you in ways you’ll never forget. Wait. That sounded bad. They don’t actually touch you. I’m freaking you out now, aren’t I?

Anyway – I know she makes you cry at night, but don’t let her. Don’t give her that power. She doesn’t deserve it. Screw her.

Another thing: All of those research papers you’re assigned to write this year that are giving you your first taste of anxiety attacks? They aren’t that important. Trust me. Let your Dad help you, don’t resist him so much. He’s smart, you know. If you would just drop the attitude you might learn from him. And quit with the procrastinating already. They are stressing you out because you’re waiting until the last minute, dumbass. Stop that shit.

Don’t wear the purple eye shadow. That stupid teacher will call you out about it in front of the whole class and you’ll be embarrassed and stand in the bathroom washing your face crying. I would love to tell you, “Tell her to suck it!” but I know you won’t. So instead – just don’t wear it. Avoid the embarrassment. That way the adult you can quit having damn nightmares about it already.

You know that weird attraction you have to skater boys? Especially Ryan – who will eventually be your first real boyfriend? Keep with that theme in your life. It’s a good theme. Skater boys are cute. You end up marrying a really hot skater boy.

Embrace the curls. You can’t fight them. Learn to love them.

Stop crying. You cry a lot at night. You feel lonely. But, the things is, you’re really not lonely. You’re just hormonal and feeling a little out of place right now. Talk to your Dad more about it – he ends up giving you some really good advice later in life, once you finally start asking him advice.

Most importantly – it only goes up from here. You will make a lot of mistakes, but even at your darkest moments, you will never feel as sad as you do right now. Let that give you peace. Once you embrace your differences, you’ll feel much better. Quit trying to fit in, and just be you. You aren’t going to be as pretty as Caroline, as loved as Mollie, or as funny as Dana or as smart as Teal. But that’s okay. You don’t need to look at them all and feel sad. Instead, be happy that you aren’t exactly like them. Be happy about who you are.

Maybe, if you start learning these things now, the 32-year-old-You will be able to finally stop being so insecure too.

Love,
32-year-old-Zoot

(Thanks to Amy and Amy for the idea.)

Ahh…the question of discipline…is there really an answer?

Several of you asked what I do if NikkiZ doesn’t obey first time. That’s a tricky question. Since we’re still teaching the concept, we physically enforce whatever we’re trying to get her to do, if possible. Like, if I want her to pick up her toys and remind her “first time,” but she still doesn’t do it? I go over with her and help her pick them up while repeating the phrase “first time” a lot. Like, “NikkiZ, I’m helping you pick up the toys because your supposed to obey first time” or something like that. I don’t feel like we can really punish her yet since the concept as a rule isn’t all the way there. She gets it sometimes, and sometimes she doesn’t.

With LilZ, once I felt confident he understood that rule (or any other rule), then when he broke it I tried several different techniques of punishment. I was a young mother and didn’t read any books, so I just tried what seemed instinctive. Honestly? First instinct was spankings. Which was weird since my parents never spanked. I would threaten the spanking and then when I had to follow through, I would make a huge production out of it. Tell him he was getting a spanking and remind him why, give him the spanking, and then ask him if he knew why he got the spanking. Then I gave him a hug. I tried that for short period but it never really did anything because he just kinda thought the whole thing was silly. Probably because I was barely hitting him. So – instead of hitting harder, I threw spanking out the window forever. I am not against it in theory, but for me and my kids? It’s just not something that will work.

So – we always fell back on timeout. Until LilZ was old enough to have privileges taken away – timeout was the default punishment. And it worked great.

We are trying to use timeout with NikkiZ, but it’s another concept she doesn’t quite get. At first, she would be upset, so when it was time for her to get up we would remind her we loved her and give her a hug. Well, now she kinda wants to go to timeout because she likes the hug at the end. To her – it’s a game. We say, “Do you want to go to timeout?” as a threat and she nods her head emphatically and says, “Yeah!” and runs to the chair. Not quite the effective disciplinary tactic we hoped it would be.

But – we keep at it. I keep hoping if we give her dirty looks while she’s sitting there, she’ll get it’s a bad thing. But, it still seems like all she cares about is getting the hug at the end and doesn’t quite grasp it’s punishment for whatever she was doing prior. The whole situation usually ends up making us all giggle, setting back the technique as “discipline” even further.

Essentially? We’re just taking it one infraction at a time. We’re trying not to wonder if she’ll ever get timeout and we just keep with it. Repeating the rule she broke and reminding her that timeout is NO FUN AT ALL. We’re not going to take away the hugs at the end because we’re very big on that, but we’re just hoping eventually she’ll get that they aren’t rewards for being in timeout. Otherwise – we’ve got a long road ahead of us. And we may have to use alternative methods of punishment, like flogging. And does anyone even know where you can get a good flog anymore?

Squeal!
Run! Run from the flogging!

First Time.

There are a lot of parenting styles out that there following the “no discipline” train of focus. Or the “freedom” focus. The type of mindset that setting rules and boundaries too early can stifle personality development and teach your child to accept authority without ever challenging it. Parents with these tendencies seem to think that’s a bad thing: Teaching your child not to challenge authority. I, on the other hand, teach them that if they challenge it – they’ll eat dog food for a week.

I guess I want my children to grow up to challenge authority if it goes against something they believe in. Or of it’s a crime against humanity. When they’re old enough to know what those things are. But – I don’t want them to challenge my authority now. I simply can not deal with that kind of chaos. It may be easy for some mom’s to promote that kind of freedom and still stay sane. But not me. I’m big on black and white rules. Easy to pass on to small children that don’t really grasp the English language yet. The fewer words in the rule – the better. Be Nice. Use your manners. Gentle when rubbing Mommy’s feet. Quiet during Mommy’s TV shows. And most important: Obey FIRST time.

I first heard the concept of the “When do you obey?” “First time.” dialog when LilZ was 3 or 4. It was in a book about being a good father (don’t ask) and it taught that the number one easiest concept to teach your child is that they obey FIRST TIME. (I can’t remember the book, sorry.) It keeps you from nagging and it nips dissent in the bud. Squishing their fragile spirit before they can overpower you.

I think most parents want easy-to-teach rules. For me, now that I’m a working mother, they’re especially important. I just don’t have the luxury of time to talk it out. So, condensing it to one simple concept is the best. When LilZ was 3, if I asked him to do something and he hesitated I would say, “When do you obey?” He would say, “First time,” and he would execute the initial task. It didn’t always work, but it was simple enough to jar the rule and motivate him to BRING MOMMY HER CIGARETTES ALREADY.

You! I’ve decided to try to teach NikkiZ the same rule the last few weeks. She has started understanding abstract concepts, so I thought it would be a good time to introduce this one. If I ask her to do something, pick up a toy, put her milk in the fridge, get daddy a beer, I remind her that she should obey “First Time.”

The other morning I asked if she had pooped. She said, “Yeah!” and kept running around the living room. I was in a hurry and needing to leave for work so I said, “Come let momma change your diaper.” She looked at me once and kept with the playing. I said, “Nikkiz…” and was about to say “…when do you obey?” But she turned around and held one finger up and said to me, “Firsh Dime.” And then she ran towards her bedroom to get changed. She actually answered the question before I even asked it. Reminding me that people who write parenting books sometimes actually know what they’re talking about.

I might actually reconsider the whole Explosives Should Not Be Used as Toys now. We’ll see.