Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Breaking Parenting Rule #5

Parenting Rule #5 is the one where if you have reached a point in your parenting where you think you know what you are doing, first of all, you are wrong. Second of all, if you think you know what you are doing and can chill, you are either not noticing something massive and dangerous is happening or, something massive and dangerous is about to happen so, you know, at least sit up.

Officially it reads "Never let yourself relax and think you know what you are doing as a parent". What exactly is this rule #5 and who decided it? Well, uh, just me. What are the other 4 rules? I'm not sure yet. At least one of the rules has to do with keeping the kids clothed and educated. Then there is the rule about only taking as long to cook dinner as it will take to eat it  (generally less than 20 minutes, including whining).

So over the kids winter break from school (also known as The Accidental Mommy Visits the 7th, 8th and 9th Circles), we had made plans for Teena to stay at my parents house for a few days. Without the rest of us. My Mom has been saying for years that she would love to spend time with my girls individually. That's code for: your children are heinous and no human should be left alone with them both unless the Vatican is involved. Since Teena is our independent little girl, we decided after Christmas she would stay and the rest of us would come home. I knew she would be excited and would not have a moment of doubt. The girls had been clashing almost constantly, and Genea had been on a tear having visits from the Wango Tango regularly. We all needed a break, but with our options limited we decided a "reverse respite" sort of thing would be at least beneficial for Teena.

I had the sense to be afraid, very afraid, of Genea's reaction. From not being the one to stay, to being separated from her sister. I knew she would blow and would have daily freak outs, probably for hours. My plan was to take advantage of the individual time with her to work on her explosive anger and disproportionate reactions. Get some things done, and try to reinforce our bond and attachment, which I was feeling had become precarious.

I blew it entirely. I anticipated all the wrong things. It's like they knew what I was thinking and planning for, and decided to do the opposite. I tell ya', there is no value in worrying. I  pick the wrong things to worry about all the time. Also, I always pick the wrong house on House Hunters (TV show on HGTV) (although maybe it's the new homeowners picking the wrong house who knows).

When the time came to leave my parent's house I spent some extra time saying goodbye to Teena. Now, she is and independent kid, so I knew she would be fine and not miss us for a second. She never has. Frankly, she can not usually even be bothered to look up when we have left her before.


She was sitting on a bed just sort of staring off and I asked her if she was feeling a little sad that we were leaving, even though she knew she would be having a ton of fun. She flopped herself back on the bed and told me "no Mama, I am feeling all the way sad". What the heck? I laid with her for a few minutes and gave her the choice to come home instead. Despite the sad, she insisted on staying. She would be having a sleepover at her cousins house and by jingo, she was going no matter what. Okay. But she asked me to try to arrange it so she could come home early.

At home I was all prepared and ready for the bomb of anger to go off with Genea. So I waited. And I waited. And then there was a minor snit when she didn't get what she wanted immediately. Then it was done. What the heck?

I mean, What? The? Heck?

I enjoyed her. I sat back and enjoyed her. Do you have any idea how monumental that is? I did not have to "manage" her. I did not have to regulate with her. I did not need to stay a little on edge just in case. I did not have to answer her a dozen times an hour, I actually talked to her first. I did not have to keep her in my line of sight. I did not have to constantly gauge her level of frustration. None of the exhausting things that I always have to do. I could just be with her. She is a delightful, fun, cute and sweet little girl and I got to fully enjoy that side of her.

Teena stayed the full time at her grandmothers house, but for the first time ever she was ready to come home when the day came. Genea missed her like crazy.

What do I know.


  1. Sounds like you made a pleasant wrong guess ~Smile~

  2. I'm currently having a teensy problem with Rule #5 at the moment, myself. Is it going around?

  3. That's my Rule 5, too....yet I am a backslider. What can I say?

    You had me laughing[loudly] out loud this morning, despite the fact I am just about frozen solid, and LOOOOOOONG to go back to bed.

  4. We had an experience about 2 years ago, where my mom wanted to take Kristen (our oldest) on a working vacation with her. Jack (child #3) wanted to go too, and my husband said, "why not? he's an easy kid, she can handle 2." Well, I fretted and fretted about that situation, anticipating that if I went along with this plan and skipped over child #2 (Katya) for this little trip (my mom had already told me that since she would be working she didn't think she could handle any less than stellar behavior). I was SURE it was going to be a huge mess of jealously and back-firing misbehavior. Especially because the 2 kids left with me - Katya and Ben, get along the least. WRONG. They were delightful and not a since ounce of all I anticipated. They even played together - WELL. It was a BLAST to have just the two of them for that week.

    New rule: Halve your child load and you will experience magic. Although I think it only works for short periods of time...

  5. If it's any consolation, I always seem to pick the wrong house too. I firmly believe it's the new homeowners that are wrong, not me! lol. I'm glad you were wrong in this case !

  6. Lucky Mommy to have reverse respite! It sounds like it was successful (and surprising!) all around. Maybe Grandma will do it again, and again?

  7. We have the opposite reactions here. I think it is because our children were left with various people when the birthparents needed a break. So the girls get upset if we are not all a family unit together. They are okay for a day, but when I took 9 yr old on a trip with me for my uncle's memorial early last year, 6 yr old was upset and 9 yr old did not act very well. She did good for the most part but it created jealousy in 6 yr old who really let me know how unhappy she was to go.

    The reason I didn't take 6 yr old was because my mom is elderly and I didn't think she would be able to handle both girls. This was pre ADD/ADHD meds, and the girls and I made a trip over Thanksgiving to my mom's. Both behaved okay but missed Daddy (he had to work and couldn't go) and they were only happy when we were home and the family unit was complete. Our girls have stayed with their godmother and enjoyed it, but so far we haven't really split them up.

    What a nice surprise. Maybe Genea liked that she got your full attention. I do know what you mean about having to observe her, etc. I wish people in our life would get that we do have to do that. Most family members just do not get it. I fully get what you would have had to go through.

    Glad the visit to grandma went well for Teena and glad Genea enjoyed her time with you. I'm sure it was nice for the girls to be apart and miss each other and then come back together.


  8. So now there is hope for Bubba, except we are all out of grandmas. But we have grown up sisters. Yay!

    I'm really glad you had the wonder time together. Pure awesome!

  9. Your experience reminded me of a similar one we had with our anxiously attached kiddo. We sent our other two to Grandma's and kept him home. He was delightful on his own. He likes having all the adult attention without having to share. We have done variations on this occasionally - it's nice to mix things up.

  10. How delightful to be proven wrong!

    What a treat to get to enjoy your lovely G.

    And what MORONS those househunters are. THEY never pick the right house. (Now we need to watch together and make sure we're both picking the same house...)

  11. Maybe this will be the year of lots of pleasant surprises for you all. :)

    As for your comment on my blog: can you even effing BELIEVE that crap? she's a nutjob.

  12. Don't you love it when your wrong?...In a good way of course.

    I have had moments where I anticipate the worst and it turns out good. It is weird and bazaar.

    My poor husband always anticipates that it is going to be a rocking good time and then it ends up being a manipulating tantrum fest. I feel so bad for him because it is such a letdown. He is learning to not expect too much and that does help.

  13. What progress you are making with those sweet girls. Sounds like your hard work and vigilance is paying off!


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