The Motherhood Manual: Who’s the grown up here? or How to discipline your child.

I am fortunate to have two boys who largely do the right thing. Up to this point, we haven’t had any major behavior issues (meaning the authorities haven’t been involved… well, I guess they were once, but that’s a different story for later). They’re mostly nice to each other and to their parents and I’m just super impressed with who they are each becoming. However, that doesn’t mean they are perfect by any means. They have their moments (wait until you hear about the toilet and the turkey baster next week). And, those moments frequently fuel my stories or my outbursts, which then lead to stories. Often I handle their less than fine moments in a responsible grown up kind of way, but every now and then, I resort back to my little kid, stick-my-tongue-out at the person methods. I actually prefer the stick-my-tongue-out method, but suspect that in the long run, the adult method is better…

My pbbttttt method worked fine for me on at least one occasion, though. When Jacob was about four years old and Spencer was two and a half or three years old, the boys were back in their bedroom and I could hear that something was going on. I assume that I was doing something highly productive like cleaning or baking a four course meal or decoupaging and refinishing an antique while wearing heels and lipstick (I want to be sure you have an accurate mental picture of me in my home), otherwise I would have been right there with my children fostering their emotional and intellectual well being. I stopped my decoupaging, reapplied my lipstick (of course), and marched back to see what was going on. When I entered their room I saw that Jacob was spitting on Spencer. Gross.

The spitter.

When I confronted Jacob about it, he declared that he was mad at Spencer for whatever (no idea now what) and that Spencer deserved it. So, in my very adult manner, I picked up the water bottle that was on the nearby dresser and turned it upside down over Jacob’s head. It felt great. I explained to Jacob that if him being mad made it okay to get Spencer all wet by spitting on him, then I was going to get Jacob all wet too. The look of shock on Jacob’s face was priceless (you know, in a Mastercard commercial… “water bottle- 99 cents, laundry load- $1.50, look of disbelief- priceless”… kind of way). He was completely flabbergasted. And, mad.

It turns out Jacob didn’t think that was a reasonable grown up response. So, he glared at me and chose his words carefully. He said, “I’m telling Daddy.”

Ha! Nice try buddy. I don’t care. I’m pretty sure I said something along those lines too… pretty sure I went with the tried and true sing song-y voice and told him “I don’t care. Daddy will back me up.” I didn’t even feel indignant that for some reason Jacob thought Daddy was the boss of me or that he was the one who was really in charge. I didn’t even care. I could hardly wait for Jason to get home.

That evening, Jason listened to Jacob explain what happened earlier with the spitting and the water bottle. I could see Jason look at me out of the corner his eye with a “really?” kind of look, but he maintained listening to Jacob’s story. At the end of Jacob’s description, Jason told him that it sounded like he had it coming to him. It’s possible that Jason may have acknowledged that I could have handled it differently, but I definitely didn’t get in trouble. As I stood at the side watching and listening, I sooooo wanted to stick my tongue out at Jacob and say “I told you so,” (again in my big girl, six year old voice). But, I didn’t. I guess I’m growing up after all.

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12 thoughts on “The Motherhood Manual: Who’s the grown up here? or How to discipline your child.

  1. The water bottle- a tried a true discipline technique in my house as well. Great story and giggle this morning as I try to adjust to the time change.

    • I expect the water bottle discipline method (trademarking the name soon) to catch on big across the country now too, as a result of my massively popular blog here. :)

  2. Wonder why the parental “losing it” moments are always funny in retrospect. Maybe it’s good to know that the inner child has been alive and well all along when we really wanted to bag the responsible parent thing.

  3. I think that you are the 5th child my mother never told me about and put up for adoption! I have so wanted to stick my tongue out at E!! You’re hilarious!

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