From Bad to Better

FriendsA few weeks back, we were desperate. My daughter’s tantrums had driven us to the brink of insanity. Well, not exactly the brink. We were over the cliff and plummeting to our imminent demise. (See “Major Meltdowns” and Surviving Easter ‘Break’) Well, I can’t say that we’re not insane anymore – that’s a very subjective state. But things have changed dramatically.

We took our daughter to a therapist who’s wonderful. My daughter loves her and gets so excited about her sessions. The first thing the therapist did was to recommend a book, “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12.” I admit I haven’t finished the book (Because when do I get a chance to read? There’s a DVD too if you don’t have time to read a book either). But the basic premise is this: When your child acts up, you give her two chances to shape up, and if she doesn’t, she goes to her room for a time out. Doesn’t matter what she does in her room as long as she serves her time. read more

Tuning out

Crying HeadSometimes, in a marriage, everything you do as a couple clicks. Sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know what the hell’s going on with my husband these days. He’s usually an attentive, compassionate guy and when I have a goal for the family, he supports me, but not lately.

He was out of town for three days this week, and usually I miss him, but this time I was glad he was going. He’s been working on de-cluttering the house for more than a month now – we’re drowning in toys and kids’ old clothes, yet every single weekend, he asks me what, exactly, he should get rid of. I told him what to trash at the beginning. I was specific. And the next week when he asked, I told him again. And the next week, again. And I’ve been as clear as I possibly can, but every weekend, the question comes up again. And every weekend I say the same thing. And, adding to the strife, the project keeps us physically apart, because, as any parent knows, it’s impossible to throw stuff away with kids around. We could be trashing concrete blocks and the kids would say, “Noo, I want to play with those!” So I take the kids out of the house and he stays at home and works on the project. read more

The battle of the stresses

Stress 2My husband thinks he’s cornered the market on stress. Okay, he’s got a very demanding job; he works a lot of hours, he’s on call 24/7 and he does carry a lot of stress on his shoulders. But the other day I mentioned that I had more stress than usual and you’d have thought I’d said I got abducted by aliens.

“Stress?” he said. “What are YOU stressed about?” Seriously, that’s the way he said it.

I don’t know how two people who live in the same house, eat dinner together and sleep in the same bed can be so far apart in their understanding. I began to explain. read more

There’s nothing like a power struggle in the morning

Bad dayThis is how it all started. My daughter wanted to take a toy into camp. Camp has a no-toys rule, but the last time I told her she couldn’t bring her toy, she clung to me and wouldn‘t go in until I let her. Then, when I picked her up in the afternoon, she left the toy on the floor at camp when we left.

So today she wanted to bring her My Little Pony “Princess Celestia” in. I let her get to the door and asked the camp counselor to explain the “no toys” rule. The counselor gently said that toys get lost or hurt at camp. Did she want her toy lost or hurt?

“No,” she said and handed the Princess to me. The counselor said, “I think that’s a good choice you made.” I bent down and kissed my daughter goodbye. Everything seemed normal and then she clamped her arms around my leg and wouldn’t let go. read more

The Marriage Games

My experiment failed. I tried to give a little tit for tat, and I failed. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Last month, I got very upset at the way my husband was handling Mother’s Day. He asked me what I wanted a few weeks in advance. That was good. I gave him a list. That was good.Then we did not discuss Mother’s day again until the Friday night before. “I need you to watch the kids so I can go shopping for you,” was the gist of our conversation. That was bad.

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