Monday, September 21, 2009

The Parenting Manual?

Just thought I should let someone know that I didn't get one.

Maybe I wasn't paying attention when they were distributed. Or I didn't get the e-mail saying where to pick it up. Or the mail didn't get me mine. Better yet, UPS didn't get it to me. That one is more believeable.

One of Skadi's teachers, my least favorite actually, comments all the time that I am THE most laid back parent around. She tells me this when my daughter walks in nearly daily in some new "costume".

Maybe I am laid back. I like to think I am smart in that I pick my battles and I don't give a rats ass when other parents look at my daughter and smirk. Because trust me, many things with Skadi are just not worth the battle.

But when the teacher says this to me I wonder if I shouldn't be picking more battles with her? Am I raising a spoiled child? Are we all giving too much in the name of keeping peace in the house?

I admitted to Leif tonight (as well as a few other nights) that no, life hasn't always been fair to him because I have been the one solely to put Skadi to bed for the last year and a half or so. And yes, I understand that I could start to make it up by putting him to bed four nights in a row and then her two nights. Then I remind him that he had both of us to himself for 2 years and 8 months. But this isn't tangible to him. And it's easier to just say honestly, Skadi's screaming constantly is just too much to handle when it follows quickly with vomiting induced by the screaming and laced in there for good measure - the asthmatic wheezing.

It's just easier and Leif I am really sorry that it hasn't been fair.

Except we did start picking this battle a month or so ago and have had amazing success with it. 40% of the time AB is able to put her to sleep and Leif gets me - which is a huge step in the right direction.

I also thought that the binky was going to be a misery to be rid of. AB kept saying we didn't need to push it, so what if we have a 2.5 year old with a binky at night and for naps? Then one day she threw them in the trash and we were done.

So I keep telling myself that there is some evidence to the fact that we are doing the right thing. Making suggestions on what we would like her to do, keep repeating them and eventually let her decide she wants to go this route. Because there are nights when Skadi requests AB and not me. She is coming around.

Is this laziness? Or being too laid back? Or is it understanding my daughter?

I don't know. But I am sure the answer is in the manual.

(Maybe the parenting manual is hiding with the Olympus Camera manual as well that has the warranty card I need in order to send the camera in for warranty work? It wasn't hiding with the scanner cord that I found yesterday.)

It isn't just my daughter that causes me to question my parenting. It's Leif too.

Leif has such an easy going personality (guess he gets that from us). But he does have one downside to his personality. He is a touch obsessive and maybe compulsive too. He gets on something he likes and he attacks it with vigor. It becomes all consuming.

The first evidence of this was Finding Nemo. Then entered Curious George. It was TV first. But he had the personality that accepted with minimal meltdowns that he was not going to get his way. Not Skadi's personality. TV was just ALL he wanted to do. Ever.

I am not that bad of parent... I didn't fall for it.

Next was the computer. I told myself it was better than TV because it engaged him and if he was using the Leapster then it engaged his intellect as well. And it bought us some peace and quiet to focus on the whiney little sister if Leif was on the computer or on his Leapster. We talked about limiting his time on the computer kind of like we did with the TV.

Next was soccer and we rejoiced that he was obsessed about a sport and not technology. Then we backslid when we bought a Wii and have entered into the new plane of Leif's OCD nature.

AB and I have wrestled with how much is enough? When is too much? How often is enough?

AB came home from a birthday party this weekend with the closest thing to an answer we had seen outside of what is probably in the elusive manual:

"Their boys only get to do the Wii on Friday evenings," he told me about other parents we know and admire (they have three boys).

We tossed around the validity of this and set into the week with good intentions.

Then OUR life hit.

And the fact that on weekday mornings AB is gone long before we get out of bed. I have to get ready and it is just easier to let Leif go play Wii while I shower and Skadi watches Dora and Diego on our bed. Because no, I am not going to "force" Leif to watch Dora and Diego with her. Nor am I going to have him take care of her in the playroom because that is just a recipe for him getting whaled on by her and ending up in tears.

I put him downstairs on the Wii while I vowed to get ready fast so that he would only be on there for what, 20-30 minutes? Then I would make him stop and come help me get breakfast reasy. Then that would be it for the day.

Or so I told myself.

But wow, when you get home and are trying to get dinner on the table. And Skadi is done watching her show and is now playing babies on the floor. And so the TV is available. And Leif has done a good job working on his nightly reading work. And I have picture forms to fill out. And a Scholastic book order to finalize. And dinner to start. And mail to go through.

And he looks at me longingly and says, "now that I have finished my reading, and I was good at school today, can I do a Wii game?"

And surrender is easy.

I never thought of myself as laid back. In fact, at work I tend to be the opposite. And I like my life organized. And I am a list maker. I show all the signs of being type A... until it comes to my kids.

No comments: