Category Archives: parenting

RIS (Repetitive Instruction Syndrome)

“Your Dad is on the phone with a client, so I am going to need you guys to play quietly in your room and the living room please.” I instructed the children, as I set out a basket of oranges, graham crackers, grapes, and cheese slices, placed “Over the Hedge” on their little t.v. screen in their room, and provided them with juice and two different colors of clay, with various implements of clay creation to entertain them with.

“Sure mom!” Monkey said “I will keep Otter in our room and play quietly!”

Otter smiled, sat on his chair, grabbed a piece of cheese and the play clay knife and began industriously sawing away. Pleased that my plan to entertain the children seemed feasible, I went to the bathroom.

My mistake.

As soon as my pants were down, literally, both children were screaming their heads off in the kitchen, mere inches from the office door and Lee’s phone call with the all important client.

Rapidly interrupting and cleaning up from my heretofore necessary, but now less important, bodily functions I sped out of the bathroom and hustled everyone back into the kid’s room.

“What on earth is going on?” I demanded from Monkey, exasperated that my careful providing of snacks and two distractions had failed so quickly and dramatically. “Didn’t I just finish telling you that Daddy is on the phone with a client and you both need to play quietly in your room?”

“Well, Otter was fine until he took some of my yellow clay and ran off with it so I decided to go get it back and make him play with his own yellow clay but he didn’t like that so he ran to the office to get daddy but I knew you didn’t want him to so I stopped him in the kitchen and yelled at him so he yelled back. ” Monkey replied, in one breath.


“Okay, let me get this straight. Your brother, who is two and doesn’t really understand the whole your clay/his clay concept, ran off with your yellow clay. Instead of simply letting him go and taking his yellow clay, you chased him into the kitchen, where you weren’t supposed to go, and took it back, thereby making him yell and cry. Then when he wanted to go get Daddy, you yelled at him outside the office door, making him yell and cry again. All this right after I explained to you that Daddy was on an important phone call with a client and needed the house to be quiet. Do I have that right?”

“Yes” Monkey responded, hanging her head. “Sorry mom. I won’t do it again.”

Oh, but she will. For you see, mere minutes after I deposited the children in the bedroom with new snacks, a restarted movie, new play clay, the option to paint with the “no mess” paints and paper, and NEW instructions to play quietly because Daddy was on a phone call, Monkey engaged Otter in a game of “Who can scream the loudest.” (Otter won by the way, he has a scream that can break glass.)

Then, when I blocked access to the kitchen off with a baby gate and locked the bathroom door in an attempt to at least keep them physically further away from Lee, Monkey thought she and Otter should ride around the dining room, nearest the baby gate,¬† on Otter’s loud new scooter, singing loudly into the volume enhancing microphones they bought with their allowances yesterday. The microphones I am now the proud temporary owner of.

I told her to get off the scooter, that she wasn’t allowed to ride it until her Dad was off the phone. She pushed it over and loudly stomped into her room yelling about how unfair it was. Then, when I followed her into her room, she screamed her head off, horror movie style, because “I scared her.” I asked her if she would like me to lock her in her room for the rest of the day and cancel the day’s activities, because I had just about had enough of her unwillingness to listen, follow instructions, and behave like a sane person. I then told her to remain in her room, on her bed, silently watching her movie until I came and told her she could do otherwise.

Of course, when I told my husband about the trials and tribulations I suffered while providing him with some semblance of peace for his phone calls this morning, he told me that my mom and dad were probably high fiving it and laughing hysterically upon reading this, well revenged for some of the shit I had pulled on them growing up.

I informed him that statements like that were only wise if he was attempting to have a long and happy marriage with my mother.

Tag teamed…

The kids, oft referred to as stinkers, have been tag teaming me this week.

Otter, though normally perfectly happy to nap between 1 and 3, has refused to nap earlier than 3:00, thereby guaranteeing that I have not one second of time to myself between the hours of 7 am and 8 pm, as his sister gets home at 3:00. His later naptime has the additional benefit of delaying his bedtime until about 10 p.m., thereby guaranteeing that I have not one second of time to myself between the hours of 8 pm and 10 pm. Basically, I get no break at all until it’s time to go to bed.

This would upset me less if he acted like this when his dad was in town, instead of saving it all up for me when daddy is far far away.


After 7 years of motherhood I formally absolve my mother of any and all guilt accumulated from parenting me through the use of… well… guilt.

It would seem the only two things my amazingly teenagerish, somewhat assholian, seven year old responds to these days are spankings, and guilt.

If I spanked her every time she was rude or disrespectful to me or her dad, every time she failed to listen to our instructions or gave us the seven year old version of the finger I would be up to my elbows in sanctions from various child welfare agencies. Instead, I use the only other effective weapon in my arsenal, guilt. Big, fat, piles of Catholic Grandmother guilt. (Nothing else is working!!)

At six she had a highly developed sense of empathy and really could be managed by simply saying “how would you have felt if….”. Now if you ask that question she will flippantly answer “Sad. Am I grounded now?”. However, if you say ” Your actions really hurt and upset me tonight. I feel really bad.” She will pause a little before asking “Am I grounded now?”Then, if you answer “No, you just have to deal with knowing that you hurt my feelings” she will usually respond with apologies that at least appear sincere in nature and squeeze out a tear or two. Of course, sometimes it helps a little to ground her anyway.

I always swore I would not engage in guilting my kids into behaving well. I hated that by the time I turned 20 I would begin to feel guilty about a proscribed action before I had even finished commiting the damn thing. (Career criminal is not the life for me.) Even now I feel guilty about guilting my kid into understanding that standing with her back to me mimicing my stance and pretending to mouth off while I am talking is mean and disrespectful.

Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.

Maybe at 8 she will recover her former empathy and once again begin to feel for others, or maybe she feels for others already, but doesn’t care to apply such feelings to her father or me. After all, she is very caring towards her brother, and seems to really feel for the completely fake strangers she sees on the T.V.

Why do I have a feeling that I am going to visit Mr. Margarita quite a bit when she becomes a teenager?