For eight weeks now I’ve been taking this class based on the fairly popular series of books on Parenting with Love and Logic. Now I’ve gotta say, I like me some love and logic. Everything I’ve heard and read resonates with me and is thus far the best parenting approach I’ve encountered. Unfortunately, I suck at it.
Now you’re going to have to contact Professor Dewey about the particulars, but my limited understanding of love and logic goes something like this: enable your kids to be accountable for their choices and love them through each and every one (of course that’s the bare bones crib-notes version, but heh, I suck at it, remember?).
So tonight was my last class. Sadly, if today had been finals I would have failed (Sorry, Professor Dewey). And here’s why:
I asked my kids to do their chores. When Kaleb realized one of his chores was to clean his room, he wigged out. Now Kaleb, like his mother, is quick to wig. So I acknowledge that it’s probably a genetic weakness, but still. The room was a disaster and today was the day. Clean your stinkin’ room! But of course, THAT’S not love and logic. So I empathized (a crucial step) as he escalated and finally I sent him to his room. Professor Dewey calls that recovery. I call it step-away-from-the-angry-mama. He wigged squared—throwing things at his door, yelling his distain for me, and, I discovered later, drawing on a chair.
Finally I go upstairs and say what I believe I have been taught in class. “Don’t worry, Kaleb. I’ll take care of it.” (A phrase that I’m apparently conditioning my kids to recognize as meaning—“Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.”) Now if I had stopped there, Professor Dewey later informed me, I would have been spot on. But me, stop? Come on now! These lips are made for flappin’, and that’s just what they’ll do. I continued and said, “I’ll clean your room.” Even without love and logic my kids know what that means: Mama’s going to throw half your room away.
Here’s where I must interject and explain, with my limited understanding, consequences are very important in love and logic. But delaying them is even more important. While throwing away two Christmases worth of WalMart fodder is a stellar consequence, announcing it like that to my defiant and loving 6-year old is not the best approach. More wigging ensued.
Finally I arrange for his father to come fetch him and his siblings so I can “clean” the rooms in peace (because by this time there has been a mutiny and Leah has decided that cleaning her room is too burdensome a chore for one so faint of spirit). Two bags of donate-ables and one bag of garbage later I’m done. Now I’m not heartless. I haven’t tossed anything cherished or beloved. But I have gotten rid of all those sad, broken misfit toys that no one, I repeat -- no. one. -- has played with in months.
The children return. They go to their rooms. They cock their heads to one side. That’s funny, they think (because I’m their mother and can read their minds). I can tell stuff is gone, but I cannot name one thing that’s missing. Hhmmmm. More head cocking. Finally Kaleb, who has been fingering a bin of odds and ends says, “My teenage mutant ninja turtles are here. Thanks, Mom.”
Now if I had kept my mouth shut this debriefing of our love and logic experiment would have been spot on. But instead I said, “Except for the headless one.”
Oh no you di’n!
Oh, yes I did.
I opened my big ole mouth.
I’ll spare you the gory details. Needless to say much more wailing and wigging ensued with Kaleb begging me to retrieve the headless turtle and Leah petitioning me to catalogue everything they had lost (because she still couldn’t determine one single missing item herself).
Phew. Parenting in the trenches. It’s days like these that leave me with just one thing to say:
At least I got a post out of it…