Mama Said

By Deborah Duncan –

Say it ain’t so! It’s official. I have become my mother. She always said, “You just wait.” I catch myself saying the things to my son that my mother used to say to me.  “I love you, but I do not love your actions!”  “Go to your room, and don’t even think about coming out!”

At this point, I have my son believing that I can tell if he’s “thinking” about it, but I know that threat is about to lose its power. He’s also about to figure out that moms really don’t have eyes in the back of their heads. The temptation is to just say “yes” and avoid the fight, but that is not what parenting is about. Although it is probably the most rewarding thing you might do, it is also the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Of course, I was the best parent in the world when I did not have a child. I never understood temper tantrums in the grocery store, kids who couldn’t stay in their seats at restaurants, etc. and then, one day after I became a parent, terror struck at the checkout counter of the grocery store. My son wanted a big bottle of soda and I said, “No.”

Cue the grand production of tears, screaming and flopping on the floor. The overwhelming urge is to just give kids what they want and bring an end to the crisis but unfortunately, that guarantees that it will continue to happen. My dear friend Dr. Gail Gross says we have to get over this notion that “we” are being embarrassed. Instead, look at it as if your kids are embarrassing themselves. As soon as they figure that out, and they get no reaction to all of their drama, they’ll stop.

I took the soda pop caper one step further. I bought the soda at checkout, much to the disappointment of onlookers, but they had no idea what I was going to do. My son had a sly smile on his face on the way to the car. I drove around the corner, got out of the car and took a good long swig from the soda bottle. As my son looked on in horror, I chunked the bottle into the dumpster.

“Why did you do that? The bottle was almost full!”

“Because you will never win that argument in the grocery store. When I said ‘no,’ I meant ‘no!’ Got it?”

He never did it again! The point is, kids need structure, and when you hear them say, “You are so mean!” or “You are the worst mommy in the world” when they simply don’t get what they want, that’s when you know you are doing the right thing. If you want your kids to be responsible adults, you have to stick to the rules no matter how cute they are with those crocodile tears or the occasional, “I love you.” Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Just be careful because kids are very literal. Instead of promising a stop by Baskin Robbins for ice cream, a friend promised her kids 31 flavors if they behaved accordingly. Well, they did, and they held her to all 31 flavors!

To all of the moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day and know that we truly are in it together. Gotta go. The dog is barking, and I just heard something break in the kitchen.