Monday, August 4, 2008

"Do you have kids?"

Ugh. I'm so sick of this question. Some of our most common answers: "No." "Not yet." "We're trying." "We'll take them when they come." "Shove a stick up your ass I hate you." (Ok, so obviously not the last one. But I sooooo feel like it with some people.)

Mike and I had a long conversation with some new people. We'll call them M and L. They were in their late 30's and had older kids. They had grown up in New York City and were discussing how different it is out here. They said that the drug availability and use here is rampant. I really don't know. I can't get a prescription for pain killers when I'm having a miscarriage, much less a headache. But these people work in a much different industry and say that drugs abound. I don't doubt them. I know a few people in my life (unfortunately) are druggies. Whether this is because of the ease of getting them or that they just have the contacts, I don't know. Then, we moved on to talking about kids.

I had told them that I was a teacher. Since I teach second grade, my kids are pretty good overall. Most of them still like school and want to learn. They still love their teacher and most of the drama can be smoothed over pretty easily. But it's scary how little the threat of calling home makes. I would have been begging and making deals with my teacher if she threatened to call my mom. We all came to the conclusion that we were all scared of our parents. We started talking about how we had been punished as kids and what happens nowadays. Not that any of our parents abused us. We all agreed that anytime we truly "got it" we totally deserved it. (I had thrown a brush at my mom. M had thrown curse word after curse word at his mother. L had been caught smoking. Those types of things.) Now, it seems that kids have no fear of their parents. As if their parents are not really in charge. In this age of child abuse charges and everyone being in everyone else's business, it seems like parents are unsure of how they are supposed to discipline their child. I don't have any wonderful revelations except this: consistancy people. Whatever you tell your child you're going to do, do it. If you start it, follow through. If it's taking away the computer, take away the computer. If it's no TV, then no TV. No playing outside for a week, then no playing outside. On on and on. Then they ask, "do you have kids?" And this is where I have to bite my tongue.

No. I don't. And not from lack of trying. And I know that the next words out of their mouths are going to be "well, you'll understand when you have kids." I understand where you're coming from. I understand that it's hard to do. And I understand that you can't always do it. And I understand that if you don't, you sometimes feel like a failure because you're not being a "good parent." No. I do understand. I teach a very large group of seven year olds every day. But if I ran my classroom the way some parents run their homes, I'd be insane and we'd have absolute Bedlam at school. Not that I'm saying that you can run your house the same way you run a classroom, but similar principals apply. Main thing being, kids need to know rules and consequences exist. They need to know, for example, that whining and crying and pitching a fit in the store about a toy that they're not getting, but they want, will NOT get them that toy (this was one of my biggest pet peeves while I worked retail). If you give in too many times, that becomes something your kid is going to do over and over and over. Now, as for the consequence for that, I leave it to individual parents. But whatever you do, do SOMETHING. Positive reinforcement for bad behavior leads to that bad behavior continuing.

I just hate that because I don't have kids, any ideas I have about children is discounted. And I know that things will change when we have kids, but I know that I can think logically now about what I would LIKE to put in place. Rules and consequences will be one. And I understand that there are grey areas and some things slip by. This happens more often than I'd like in my classroom. But still, the rules are in place and the kids know that they're just lucky if they don't have to deal with the consequences. It's not a given or expected result.

Alright, I'm stepping off my soapbox. To all of you out there in internetland, what do you think? Am I completely off the mark? Are rules and consequences unable to go along with parenting? What are some struggles and surprises that you have had? Help me out here people.

And to my fellow infertiles, do you come up against this too? Do you have anything that you want to have in place as parents that you think people with kids would laugh at you for?


shawna said...

I have to say that you teach the absolute hardest age, IMO. Well, I haven't made it to the teenage years yet, but 7 is pretty darn bad. Parenting is little but rules and consequences at that age, and most of all consistency. That is the one thing that I think alot of parents lack. What good are the rules if they only apply some of the time?

kate said...

Exactly Shawna. And If you don't have those rules and consequences in place early on, then it's going to be scary when you try to put them in place when you get to the teenage years. Yikes.

v said...

First of all, as for the dreaded question...I'm reminded of this,, which I read this morning (check out today's entry).

It's annoying to me that others discount your opinion because you don't have your own (biological) kids (your students are with you six hours a day and I know you refer to them as your kids...something I hope Pic's teachers do because it shows personal investment and caring).

Cardo and I remain idealistic about things like rules and consequences and, so far, I think we've done okay. I totally get the urge to give in (say, for example, when a certain child screams and sobs for twenty-five straight minutes about wanting ice cream), but we pretty easily see the good of consistency. (The day after said screaming event, said child asked politely for ice cream after dinner and told us "Yesterday, I didn't have ice cream because I was screaming and didn't eat healthy.")

While we don't spank, Pic does go into time out occassionaly and her whining and meltdowns are often ignored (hugs and cuddling abound afterward, but she still doesn't get to do whatever she wants). I hate to see parents simply accept anything their children do as if they are afraid of what having consequences will do. We're parents/children not best friends. At the same time, I try not to judge too quickly because sometimes Pic just has a meltdown. People don't always pay attention to the aftermath and sometimes just assume we give in. It's so hard to judge when you only see a tiny snippet of someone else's life.

Long enough? Yes.

kate said...

"The day after said screaming event, said child asked politely for ice cream after dinner and told us "Yesterday, I didn't have ice cream because I was screaming and didn't eat healthy.""

This is amazing to me. Good job!

v said...

She's pretty good at making the associations (this happened about eight months ago, not when she was one or anything...especially because she couldn't talk like that when she was one). Sometimes she just gets started with the crying, though, and it feels like it'll never end. It, of course, always does.

JenM said...

AMEN! I'm a teacher too, and I have learned a lot of things I want to do differently when I am the parent. I don't know if any of them are silly, but one thing I want to do is make sure my kids know how to eat healthy. I am not going to be the Mom who always does the easy thing when it comes to food, and my kids will learn about fruits and veggies. The little boy I used to Nanny for had a rule that he could pick what he wanted for breakfast and lunch, but breakfast had to include a fruit, and lunch a veggie. The key was always having good healthy options.

kate said...

That's a great idea Jen. Thanks!

v said...

Oh, I totally agree with Jen. This isn't always easy, but, obviously, important. I remember learning about balanced meals in elementary school and those lessons have stuck with me until now. I remember the bucket of rubber food from which we had to create healthy, balanced meals. Fun stuff!

Pic knows that in order to be as healthy as she can make it, her body needs healthy food, plenty of rest and plenty of exercise.

Nit said...

I totally agree with you!!!

And, yes....I, too, am so damn tired of the "Do you have children question." I just want to yell "NO!"