Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why I Suck at Love and Logic

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…

24 comments:

Janice said...

me first? wow--

I love going through my kids toys and getting rid of half or ok just the ones not being played with or broken. I tell them all the time, "If I have to clean it up then it goes in the garbage" Still trying to stay strong....

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard, SHauna! This is my life. Except mine are teenagers now. And I've never thrown away half their room! I am a terrible packrat, so they all get that from me. But I am going to do this! Right after I do my room. Hmm. Two donate bags and one garbage bag from three kids rooms? I think you've got me beat. I'll bet I have ten bags of "junk" out of my own bedroom alone. You are a good momma. :-) Did the headless one come out of the garbage? :-) Mary

Linds said...

Sometimes there just isn't time for love and logic. In today's world we have to react fast...right?

You are so funny, and a good example to all of us. I need to improve upon my love and logic-ing!

shauna said...

Mary, Nope. I tell you what though, at 9:30 last night, after hearing Kaleb cry for about 30 minutes straight (and then having him cry throughout the night--nightmares about his horrible mommy!) I was about ready to give in. Luckily it was garbage day today so as of 8am this morning the headless turtle is gone (I also took the bags to DI as soon as they went to school because I caught Kaleb looking through one this morning...) According to love and logic he should actually WANT to clean his room next chance (or at least not want me to do it). *fingers crossed*

Kristi O said...

okay, we are sisters we just have different mothers. My head spins often and I spew... they run. Now they have learned (granted they are 15 and 16) they don't want me cleaning their rooms. My lovely dear daughter has 2 feet of clothing on her floor right now. Her brother ratted on her, I make it a point to not really go there, so today after school she is going to fold laundry, now I didn't say clean her room just fold whats on her floor. By the look she shot me I pretty much said, look here sister, you suck and you are going to be locked in the dungeon with no books, no water and you are going to remain there till you can see the carpet, okay and no birthdays either! I am reasonable I merely asked that the thousands of dollars worth of cloting on your floor be placed into nice neat piles and organized so that the fireman can rescue you from your perch in the unlikely event of a fire. I really don't think its too much to ask.

As for the headless ninja... well I would have done the same thing, I am not so good at secrets. hahahhaa

Rosie said...

It is days like that that make me realize that it is a really good thing that I don't drink or do drugs because I would become completely wasted!

Annie said...

I sneak stuff in the trash every day it seems.

I got a great giggle out of this post because I foresee much wigging, parent and child alike, in this house, over the very same issues!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

logic has no place in child-rearing, none whatsoever. The problem with all these child-raising theories is they sound great; but they don't work. Common sense is all. And as parents, we all talk way to much to our kids about everything. We talk about cleaning their rooms, we talk about doing their homework, we talk, talk, talk; but really, it doesn't help! Actions speak louder than words.

And as far as kids' rooms go, did you see my post about David?

http://suburbancorrespondent.blogspot.com/2008/01/david-lets-talk-about-david-shall-we-he.html

It's truly hopeless sometimes.

The only child-raising gurus I like are John Rosemond and Ray Guarendi. John was raised by a single mother, by the way; you might find his take on that particularly helpful. A Family of Value and Ending the Homework Hassle were 2 good books of his. Ray has 10 adopted kids; this man knows how to survive!

Hang in there! It is really tough to deal with recalcitrant children, but we all have them.

Spammon said...

Ah, see, throwing away a couple of favorite toys would have shown them not to let mom clean. Because when mom cleans, things get thrown away. So it's best to clean it myself.

jason said...

If I remember correctly Mom used the same Love and Logic with the scary green "Gummy Bag"! You remember Shauna. The one with the scary permanent marker face on it. That thing still gives me nightmares. In my dreams there is a big gobbling green monster eating up all my toys that lay on the floor! Then I wake up yelling "OK I will pick up my toys. OK OK"

So from experience I think its a great Idea. Just hope Kaleb does not have nightmare when he is an adult too.

Eileen said...

This is SO funny. When my kids were younger, if they saw me with a trash bag, they immediately wanted to tear through it. They were convinced a trash bag meant toys I was trying to secretly toss out (they were usually correct). I have one fond memory of Hannah stuck in a huge trash can in the garage because she was convinced her "family toys" were in there.

Now I just sneak them to work. The kids at school love them (clothes and teen stuff) and my girls never miss them. Unless they are visiting and notice a student wearing their shirt and carrying one of their old purses. Then I get the lecture in the car about how it would be nice of me to ask. Funny thing is, the older they get, the rooms stay just as messy, if not worse. Go figure. So my logical method has always been the trash bag method. Love it.
Love this post!!!!
XOXOXO

L said...

Oh, it sounds like I need some more love and logic too. I threaten and yell at times and I know that they don't move a lick faster. Maybe you could try what my dad did a couple of times, he held a toy auction and paid us for everything we threw out.(Nothing was more than $1.00, some things were only worth a nickel) We started looking for more things to throw out! I think I ended up with 3.95 or something like that.( A small fortune to an 8 year old in 1983) I have never tried this particular tactic, but I have fond memories of it. You're a great mom!

L said...

That last comment was gustogirl, I am logged in differently right now.

Chris said...

That is so funny. I need that parenting course. My kids rooms have at least that in them. They never want to clean it, neither do I for that matter. Too much junk. After reading this I want to do the same thing, then figure out how to make it so that they never want me to do it again. Preach more!!
I am impressed that the headles turtle went out with the trash. My kids actually would have dug through the garbage to find it. How did I raise them? :-)

pinkmorning said...

this post had me in stitches. i really enjoy reading your blog because i love your perspective on things.

MELODRAMA MAMA said...

Hey, tough love is still love. You go! And I would argue that logically, for peace of mind, you needed a clean house. Logically, your kids don't need to play with broken toys. Logically if they don't clean up, you will have to. It sounds to me like you practiced both love and logic.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

And I got a laugh out of it, so thank you.

Parenting. Sucks.

Rhonda Barnes said...

yes I have done the same thing to all my children and you should remember as Jason said...the green gunny bag with the face on the was going to eat up the toys if they weren't picked up in 10 minutes. Can't remember just what we called it but when I brought it out you all scattered and it worked toys were picked up and not held hostage. What ever works!! Kaleb will trust me clean his room next time! Love mom

shauna said...

SC, I wish I was born with some of that child-rearing common sense. I think to most people, love and logic makes sense. As the only authority figure in my house (and without the ability to call on the "daddy-voice" of days past) I needed parenting direction. We'll see though (and I'll have to check out your sources too).

Mom & Jason, oh, the green gunny sack monster. I remember that. And mom, didn't you make use buy back anything we wanted? I remember money changing hands over lost toys. Those good ole days!

Gustogirl, I've been thinking about holding auctions in the future. I'm going to start giving them an allowance so they can learn how to manage money. We'll see how that goes.

MelodramaMama, I really thought the headless turtle was NOT treasured--that's why I so flippantly mentioned it to him. I was completely surprised by Kaleb's reaction. (But I think it would've happened regardless of what the item was...) Tough love, right?

Tola said...

i saw a sign the other day that fits this: "Does your train of thought have a caboose?" we *all* say that one last comment that pushes it over the edge. the trick is stopping before then.

Michelle said...

Oh so funny. When I run out of love and logic, we turn to my second favorite method, called the "smackdown".

It rarely involves actual smacking..usually it's me, gathering up her toys to be put away so she can "earn" them back.

Queeny said...

I've started a collection of misfit Happy Meal toys on my desk at work. My kids know the rule in our house is if a toy spends too much time on the floor, it's outta here.

Karen (Pediascribe) said...

Why do you think my kids go to grandma's house once or twice a year? So I can clear out.
It always comes back to bite me though. Once my daughter wigged because I had thrown out a "precious" plastic bead she had found 4 years prior.....in the parking lot of a grocery store. Oh, puh-leeze, it's not like I threw out grandma's engagement ring. (sigh)

shauna said...

Karen, With your doll head and my headless turtle we would have one complete toy! Only now they're both composting. (mu-ah-ah-ah!)