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        Thursday, January 11, 2007


    Nat has been working on a bead project from her Christmas bead set all morning, and a few minutes ago, I hear clitter clatter clitter clatter and a gasp and then the mournful sobs began. Her whole project had slid off the string and scattered across the kitchen floor, and she was bereft.

    She was inconsolable until I reminded her I was taking her out for milk shakes and French Fries and then to a movie, and she stopped crying and held up her finger and said "I want a chocolate shake!"

    The wife is on her way up, dashing through the snow with Johnny, to Portland. X-Rays to see how his feet are doing, growing with the new braces. Thanks to my donaters of yesterday, she can buy she and John lunch today, and I can squire Nat around.
    You people rock.

    I have been trying to figure out if I even have a parenting style, or if it is even possible (or necessary) to have one. I mean, I know I can be authoritarian, but then I can turn around and give them ice cream for breakfast and lead them around the house doing a marching band....

    This all used to drive the wife nuts, because she was raised in a very structured, authoritarian environment, and there were just things you did not do, or things you did exactly the same way, every day, or else.
    And there were very unpleasant consequences for rule violation. Let's just say, it makes me happy every time I remember her dad is dead.

    I had to rid her of a lot of silly notions, and modify some others. She is coming along nicely. For instance, where'd the rule come from that you have to eat breakfast first thing in the morning? Lunch at the stroke of noon? Dinner has to be on the table promptly at a certain time?
    Brunch is a far more civilized approach, but if the kid asks for breakfast, they get it. I don't serve a midday meal until they ask for it. I know they are hungry, and that they won't sit around and pick at it.

    Whatever they don't eat for dinner, becomes breakfast, and then lunch, and so on, until they consume it. I cannot abide food waste. But by the same token, you do not need to pile it on and expect them to clean their plates. Surprisingly, they are very good at portion control, so I let them pick their portions. And they must eat two bites of something they find odious; one just because, and the second just to be sure. You'd be surprised at what they originally reject, and then go hmmmm, not half bad.

    Nat is sensitive to color and texture. Johnny would geek a turd, but he balks at anything that looks like it might hurt his mouth, or be hard to chew. So, we cut up a lot of his food, and present things to him differently that his poor hands cannot manipulate well.

    For instance, a hot dog in a bun, or a fried egg sandwich that you or I wouldn't think twice about, is far beyond his capacity. He will sit there, looking forlornly at the egg bits that have dropped out of the sandwich, with two mangled pieces of mayo'd bread dangling from his little mutant paws, and who needs that kind of drama. Heartbreaking.

    So, I cut his egg sandwich in triangular eighths, and slice his dog into ribbons, and then cut the bun in half, and he munches away. We cut every sandwich for them both in fourths, anyway. It has totally minimized waste, mess, and if they can't finish, it's easier to get it into and out of the baggie.
    Little hands were not considered in the design of bread-slice size.

    We're still pretty much the land of sippy-cups around here. Between John's paws, and Nat being a spaz, it minimizes cleanup, but we are breaking them into regular glasses slowly but surely. Those 6 ounce Kraft cheese spread containers are perfect for this. We've had plenty drop, but never broken one, and they are a perfect size for little hands to learn to control. And we make them cocoa in mugs, and have them transport it across the kitchen to the table, a journey that is fraught with peril. They act like they are transporting nitroglycerin.

    I guess if I have a basic parenting philosophy, it is 'obey me out of love, obey me out of fear, either way, you're gonna obey'. Fuck up, and I send you to your room to think about it until I get tired of you being there. Oh, you say no? Well then, allow me to demonstrate just how wrong you are about that by dragging you by one foot across the floor, up the stairs (and why yes, your head will hit every stair-step) and then I will chuck you onto your bed, and if you get off I will, in an appropriate escalation of force, introduce your bare little ass to Mister Eighteen Inch Wooden Ruler. Probably wise for you amateurs to remove that metal strip they come with along one edge. While all that bleeding might make a lasting impression on the child, I'd say causing any bleeding wounds is, shall we say, excessive? Or any bruising, for that matter.

    Any strike made on a child should sting, turn red, and go away within a few minutes. A snap with the middle finger, directly into a child's screaming and/or cursing lips should sting, but not cause the lip to bleed or swell. All other smiting should generally be to the buttocks, remaining aware how close their tender kidneys are to the striking area.
    It is generally unacceptable to smite their little hands, though one is tempted to do so for crimes such as stealing, or hitting.

    Kids are small, and developing, and small bones can break, and nerves be damaged for life. I hear tales of Nuns and such beating kids hands with rulers, and I find them noxious.
    If you are incapable of successfully fighting a full grown person, whatever ever makes you think you have any business beating on a child? Oh, I've done it, to be sure. I was horrible with my first two sons. Never laid a finger on the third, and my fourth, I had to use creative approaches.

    They should have 'The Proper Way To Beat Your Child' as a component of all parenting classes. Physical discipline does not imply that the rest of your parenting is bad, and is not always a last resort. You must watch your kid(s) for trends, see the direction is is leading (you, after all, are the adult, right?) and then set up a situation where you are in control, but it does not appear so, to them, a situation that by its very nature a) illustrates the problem you are having with it and b) they are destined to fail so c) you can execute the physical discipline you promised them they would receive should they fail (if this, then that) thusly d) demonstrating that you are a parent of your word and e) giving them something to remember, loathe, and fear ever happening again should they violate in the future.

    I've only used the belt a couple of times, surgical strikes delivered with pinpoint accuracy, and now I only have to place my hand on my belt buckle to achieve compliance. Or pick up the belt, double it, and snap it.
    The wife is not authorized physical violence. That is my job. But they know if she tells me to, they will get it with a certainty, no matter how much they plead and say she's wrong. They don't see her as weak. The see her as someone who holds the remote control to their ass.

    She is authorized the hair-pull frog-march for Nat, when Nat pitches a fit and refuses to go to her room. I showed her how to deliver the maximum discomfort, with the minimal hair loss and danger to neck muscle and bone and nerves, and I haven't seen her have to use it for a long time. She did grab the back of Nat's hair the other day and Nat immediately chilled her shit and submitted and marched her own self upstairs, snuffling, and sat on her bed.

    You have to take the good with the bad, in parenting. There's the joy of Christmas morning, and in first steps, and then there's cleaning up vomit and treating a fever at 3am. And sometimes, you've got to ring a bell in their brain and the only way to get to the switch is by kick-starting their ass.

    If you believe any different, well, I just hope you're sterile.


    Yes, I understand that the three meals a day at the same time every day sprung from a need for our overlords in the schools and the factories to control us for both financial reasons, and to teach the sheep and drones compliance.

    I still never liked it, and never will.

    Also, I really must clarify that I do not think any child younger than three (and that should probably say four) should be physically disciplined, excepting restraint, i.e., holding, and using a stern voice. Or at the very most, a very light slap on the diaper to restart the brain, with emphasis on noise, rather than force.

    And no child should be struck after the age of majority (which I consider to be twelve for boys, and girls after their first menses) unless you intend to beat the shit out of them and throw them out.
    They are at the age of reason, so reason. Economic sanctions work on teenagers. Hopefully you spent the first twelve years making them into a thinking, civilized person, the occasional beer can upside the head notwithstanding.