Tuesday, October 9, 2012

5 Stupid Battles I Stopped Fighting

I'm done!
I've recently had an epiphany. You see, there are some things I find myself saying all the time. Flush the potty. Stop picking on your brother. Don't forget to wear pants. And honestly, I'm tired of it.

There are really important battles to fight as a parent, and lots of them. I will always nag remind my kids to work hard, use their manners and look out for people that are smaller than them or who need help. But when the constant nagging is about some crap that's not all that important to begin with, I'm done. Here are a five examples of battles that I've been fighting for years that I've decided just don't matter anymore.

Picking up the dirty socks. I have finally accepted that my children will never put them away. I can't even tell you how many disgusting, filthy kids socks I find on my floor on any given day. It is in the hundreds. Hundreds of socks, most of them damp and about half of them almost black on the bottom. And in the most random places you can imagine. The boy socks are so dirty that you might be able to use them to grow potatoes. And this vast number defies logic because technically there are only six kid feet in this house. Are they changing their socks multiple times per day in order to discard them later? For fun? Is it a game they play with me? Where do the socks come from? I mean, on pool days where everyone in the family only wears flip flops - I STILL FIND SOCKS. Can someone please explain this to me?

The TV at dinner time. Let me be clear, we don't eat in front of the TV. I'm talking about needing it on to distract my kids so that I can cook dinner. We only eat in front of the TV on really special occasions - like when I have PMS or when daddy is out of town. So every night around the same time, the TV goes on so that I can cook. Don't judge me, Gwenyth. I don't have any help and by 6:00pm my patience is paper thin.

But the presence of the TV turns my otherwise bright children into slack-jawed idiots who have also lost the ability to hear. Let me amend that last statement, "lost the ability to hear anything that is not the TV".  I say, "It's time for dinner!" and I get no response. I say it louder. Nothing. I yell from the kitchen. I may hear some murmuring. I yell louder, in the mean mommy voice. I then hear louder murmuring, usually for me to be quiet. Then I stomp into the family room, turn off the TV and then watch them glare at me, gulping like surprised lemmings.

My life is much easier now. I don't even bother with the escalating choruses of "Please come to the table", culminating with the Demon Mommy Voice of Doom. I just turn it off and wait for their brains to fall back into their heads. Eventually they make it to the table.

My son does not want to go anywhere until he gets there.
I have spent the past two years confused about something. My son begs me to sign him up for say, baseball. So I spend the money and get him on a team. Then two days later I say: "It's time for baseball! Grab your glove and bat!" and this is what I get (see image to the right). I may also be greeted with foot stomping, door slamming, eye rolling and if the fancy strikes him, the ever popular Tears of Furious Anger. I also get this a lot: "I wish [insert name of activity that I just begged you to sign me up for] was never even invented!"

I seriously don't understand this. Because approximately 2 seconds after we arrive at whatever the activity is, I get this from him:

Yay! Baseball! Best thing ever in the entire universe including cyberspace!
I now just ignore the whining and just shove him in the car until his crappy mood passes. It's like the pre-game tantrum is part of his process. We all roll our eyes at him and ignore him and it actually seems to pass faster now. Also, he recently apologized for being such a turd and he thought this write-up of his behavior was hilarious. So maybe we're actually making progress, who knows?

What to pack for lunch. My kids don't seem to understand that I can barely pull a meal out of my butt to serve in our house, let alone create a meal that is healthy, well-balanced and lunch box stable. But then throw their outlandish requests on top of it and I stand at the kitchen counter in the morning looking flabbergasted, arguing with a small person as the minutes before school tick down. No, I can't pack you a hot piece of pizza because it will be cold by noon and I happen to know you won't eat cold pizza. No, you can't have an ice cream cone in your lunch box because it will be ice cream soup by lunchtime. No, I can't pack you zucchini casserole. I don't even know how to make that. Now I don't even ask - I just make. Sunbutter and banana sandwich it is. BOOM. Done.
The homework barometer. At our house, we come home from school and we knock our homework out of the way first. We do this because we've found that if we wait, it either doesn't get done or it takes ten times longer than it has to and usually degenerates into what my Grandmom Joyce calls "a Polish picnic". I have no idea what goes on at a Polish picnic but based on her derisive tone, it's not an efficiently run operation. I will pretty much do anything to avoid that Polish picnic. It is extremely unpleasant and makes me want to jab sharpened pencils into my face.

But every once in a while, despite my best efforts, I find myself there. For some reason, a set of math problems that took 5 minutes yesterday, takes an hour today and involves moaning and wailing. Rather than fight them on getting it done, I send them outside to run around and I put the homework away. Either it doesn't get done or it gets done early the next morning. Sometimes they even come back inside and they're all - where's my homework? - like I stole it or something. But the bottom line is, they're in elementary school, they're normally really good about homework and their teachers know that. So on the days that they're not - I don't even bother anymore.

Maybe not fighting my kids on all this stuff represents a failure on my part. A lowering of standards or expectations. Maybe - but who cares? I've never aimed for perfection, I've usually aimed for good enough. I've aimed for goals like: happy kids and dirty house, because that is attainable for me. Trying to do both just makes us all miserable. Now excuse me...I have 8 billion socks to wash.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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