March 26, 2011

Slave Driver

March 5, 2011 - Jocelyn, Graeden, Jett, Elliott and Ammon overlooking the Sound at Birch Bay, WA
It wasn't until I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua this past week that I realized how similar and how different our parenting styles are or were or whatever because they are constantly evolving. I highly recommend this book. I've read a couple on attachment parenting and others from "experts" who may or may not have children. I've listened to the Total Transformation CDs and find that all of these methods contain some useful advice for child rearing. Does any one way work for every child? Nope. That's the beauty of parenting. You don't know what will work until you are in the trenches trying it out. Turns out you may just need a portion of each style. I appreciated Amy Chua's experiences and how she grew as a mother learning this valuable lesson.

Would I do everything that she does? No. I don't have the time, effort or will power to do what she did. But I probably would if I did. Or if I only had two children. I loved that she was so persistent with her daughter's musical training and that she made her practice for 6 hours to get a difficult portion of the piece learned. The sense of accomplishment at the conclusion of that day was immense. It seemed extreme...until I checked in with my reality.

While I do not make my children practice instruments, I do make Jett sit at the sink and do the dishes until they are done. And that has lasted on one or two occasions for the magical number of hours. Yes, on his worst day, that meant 6 long hellish hours. I'm unsure how many times I need to teach the same lesson. Obviously more than once. As much as I hate getting on him about sorting like items, filling the dishwasher to maximize what gets washed and checking off his "finished" work, I'm not going to give up on him or allow him to quit. There was an incredible sense of accomplishment when he finished. And a few days later when it was his turn again, he exclaimed to me, "I'm getting good at this Mom!" Yes, you are. Amazingly enough, it doesn't take more than 15-20 minutes if he focuses.

I don't believe we're done learning this lesson though. It often takes him 1-2 hours to get the job done. He puts his head on the counter to rest when he gets tired of looking at the sink full of dishes. He sneaks out when I'm distracted with other children. When he can't get the dishes done before dinner then he doesn't get to eat until the chore is done. It's really a nightmare. And the only thing that keeps me from thinking I'm a little extreme is comparing myself to Amy Chua. Then I feel better.

I'm not like this with just Jett, either. I had to sit with Graeden in his room yesterday for an hour sorting through his vast pile of clothes and sort clean/dirty/too small ones from the ones he actually wears. I sneaked out some of his favorite shirts (size 5) into a bag for Jett to inherit next fall, so overall it was a success.

The car stunk today. Like something had died in there. Yesterday I smelled a little something but thought it was Jett's bagged up, barfed on clothes he left in the car on Thursday. I left the car doors open all day/night to clear the smell. It didn't work, which led me to believe it wasn't the clothes.

My gracious father helped me for about half an hour sort through toys, garbage, papers, etc this morning and he couldn't find the source of the stink. On the way home we stopped off at the car wash vacuum and finished up the job. I thought we'd be out of there in 15 minutes...since the vacuum turns off after one minute. Nope. Forty-five minutes later, after I've been on them to get EVERYTHING out from under the seats, the boys admitted to knowing the source of the smell. I didn't believe what I was hearing at first. I thought they were talking about some other time a year or so ago when something similar had sweet, innocent Elliott has a knack for instigating trouble. As always, Jett was his accomplice.

It happened on Wednesday ... three days ago. The two boys decided to pee in the cubby next to the cup holders in the back seat. What?! Yes. Disgusting. I didn't recognize the urine smell because I was thinking urine smelled like peed in pants or sheets. This was still very liquid. Still collecting an increasing-beyond-recognition-stank each day it sat.

My name is Bridget. And I'm a slave driver. Making Elliott and Jett clean out the car. Trying not to gag while I supervise. Failure is not an option. We will be successful. I sincerely hope they got it all and Tymon won't ever smell this. We pick him up tonight. Once he's rested and ready to talk, I am going to suggest that he read Amy's book. Perhaps after his final quarter of grad school. Then we can figure out what Tiger Parenting techniques will work best for our individual children. Elliott needs some help getting his creative side in line.

7 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. Do you follow She had a good post on this book too. I haven't read the book but it sounds interesting.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book, but I cannot believe they peed in your car!! Gross!!

  3. Hi Bridget!

    I couldn't find an email address for you so I thought I would ask you through here -- we're looking for some quick advice for you regarding traffic/driving stuff - do you mind writing me back with your email address? Thanks!!

  4. You. Can't. Be. Serious.

    They peed in the car? On purpose? Both of them? And they're still alive?

  5. Yes. On purpose. It's disturbing. I thought when they did it before (maybe a couple years ago) that would be the last time. I'm conflicted with my emotions... there's some gratitude that at least it was in a cleanable hard surface container and some rage that it happened at all.

  6. My nephew once peed in the vacuum hose. My brother ended up having to buy a new vacuum, they could not get the smell out. I use to be that tiger mom but I just don't have it in my anymore. After losing Loughlin, I sat and wished I had had spent more time loving not directing which way he should go. It is a hard line to follow. I think I have moved far from the tiger mom now though.

  7. Oh my!! Can't believe this. So will this be your 7th child? You are an amazing mother. I can tell by reading this!


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