Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Parent"dox: Because Someone Else Said So

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #24:  Because Someone Else Said So

Remember when you were a kid, and you'd ask your Mom or Dad "Why?" and they'd reply with "Because I said so!" and that was it.  The final, be-all, end-all, don't even think about asking another question or coming back with any other smart alec comment.


(Remember the first time you heard those words slip out of your own mouth as a parent?  Oh, I can't believe how many of my parents' phrases have slipped out of my own mouth when I least expected it.)

At our house, the statement that would be a better fit in response to that question would be "Because Someone Else said so!"

Let me explain this "parent"dox and what it looks like with our son.

My son is most definitely one of those kids that listens to authority.  His teacher, his doctor, his story time librarian.  If it comes from someone he sees as "authority," it is an indisputable truth and rule to be followed to the letter.

That is, of course, unless the authority is his dad or me.

That's not to say he doesn't listen to us...some of the time.  In general, he is our "rule follower" kid.  Most of the time he is a really good listener, but from time to time he ignores our requests for the mundane, everyday stuff, like getting his pajamas on or picking out a story for bedtime, and every once in a great while, he just flat out battles us on things like picking up his room.  

(Don't worry.  We are not off the hook.  Remember who this kid's little sister is?  We get plenty of battles to keep our skills sharp [read as: remind us parenting is 100% on-the-job training and we really have no idea what we're doing from one second to the next].)

(Apparently, there are going to be lots of sidebar comments in this post tonight.  My apologies.)

Case in Point:  Potty Training
You know how people say "Don't worry.  Kids don't go to kindergarten in diapers."  I was pretty sure my kid was going to be the exception to the rule on that one.  I felt like we were in potty training limbo forever.  


We had made attempts, pretty half-heartedly, when he was about 2 1/2-years-old a couple of different times, but didn't push it.  As we were wading through potty training no man's land, I'm pretty sure every single person I knew that had a 2 1/2- year-old, a 2-year-old, or even a 1 1/2-year-old (yes, 1 1/2-year-old...) found it necessary to share miraculous stories of how quickly their kid potty trained or how their kid pretty much potty trained themselves.  

Trained themselves?  Really?

Now, I know you're not supposed to compare your kid to other kids.  I get that.  But I was beyond ready to have my son be done with diapers, and all these jubilant celebrations were like salt in the wound.  

My son turned 3-years-old about one week after the school year ended.  As a teacher, I figured that once summer arrived and I was able to be home all day, everyday with him, we'd be able to focus on potty training and get this thing figured out.  Just me, my kid (well, and his 1-year-old sister who was keeping me plenty busy in the diaper department on her own) and a potty.  I was ready.

We tried everything.  

(All that stuff I was certain I would never do with my own kid before I actually became a parent and had my own real, live kids?  Ha.  Double ha.  Totally happened, and then some.)

We tried the "no pants" method.  We tried a sticker chart.  We tried picking out a special toy as an incentive.  We tried getting "big boy" underpants.  We tried M&Ms.  We tried "target practice" in the potty.  If someone suggested it, we tried it.  

Summer came.  Summer went.  

Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

Not a single step closer to being potty trained on that first day I was back to work in August than on my last day of work back in June.

Forget kindergarten.  At this point, I was fairly certain my son would be packing a case of diapers with him when he went off to college.

Enter my daughter's well-child 18-month check up in December.  I was in the doctor's office with my daughter, and got all the 1 1/2-year-old info I needed.  My doctor mentioned that she was on the early end of potty training, but if she seemed interested, feel free to follow her lead and go for it.  My response...

"Um, yeah, thanks.  That sounds great.  So about that whole potty training thing...what about my 3 1/2-year-old who is still not potty trained?"

God bless him, our pediatrician didn't act at all like it was a big deal that my now closer to 4 than 3-year-old son wasn't using the potty yet.  (Just reason #427 why we love our pediatrician.)  He just reassured me my son would train when he was ready, but that is was OK to "push it" a little more now as he was getting older.

I was afraid consequences were going to be "taking away his driver's license" at the rate we were going.

I got home from our appointment, and told my son that the doctor (who he adores) said it was time for him to use the potty.

And that was it.

He was potty trained.

It was like magic.

I am not kidding.  That was all it took.  

When people ask me questions about potty training or what we did, I just tell them we used the "Hearing That His Doctor Said He Should Be Using the Potty" Method.

Seriously kid?  Why didn't I just tell you six months ago that your doctor said you should be using the potty?

Exhibit B:  Coloring
My son has never, ever been a colorer.  (I think I may have just invented a new word.)  He just hasn't.  It's not for lack of trying.  Our house is stocked with crayons and colored markers and colored pencils and pens and pencils and coloring books and...well, you get the picture.  It's just never really been his thing, and that's totally fine.  On the off chance he would decide to color, it would be one single color, and usually a few marks here or there and nothing really more than that.

My personal favorite was always picking him up from his Sunday School class, and he'd hand me the usually blank coloring page that went with whatever story they did that week.  He'd look up at me and say "Mom, I'm just gonna do this one at home."  

And then we'd take it home and add it to the stack of other completely blank coloring pages that were collecting dust on the coffee table.  

But lo and behold...we start kindergarten and BAM!!  This starts coming home in his backpack.

And this.

I would be willing to bet real cash money his teacher said something about using different colors, coloring in the entire picture and staying in the lines.

Done, done and done.

I'm pretty sure this is how I'm going to begin the next doctor's appointment and parent-teacher conference:

"(Doctor/Teacher), would you be willing to record these voice prompts for me?  Simply read these words out loud while I record your voice.

Brush your teeth.
Put your shoes on.
Pick up your toys.
It's time to go to bed.

I would so greatly appreciate it."

Oh, getting those words on tape, spoken by those individuals would be gold, PURE GOLD, I tell you!

In our house, it's not "Because I said so!"  It's "Because Someone Else said so!"
Even if your kids listen to someone else the first time after you've said the same thing a million times, You Are a Good Mom.


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