Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What are the Rules Anyway?

I've been reading a wonderful writing book, Writing Motherhood, and I'm surprised how much I love it. I've even finally starting using the lovely notebook my husband bought me last year, which was such a nice recognition of my "writing." When I started this blog I bought (from the discount rack, admittedly) and checked out some books on writing, but I didn't find any I really got into. Not surprisingly, I can relate to this one so much more. It's like listening to a good mom friend talk to you about her own writing in order to help with yours. No judgement, there is acknowledgement of our varied reasons and lack of time for writing as moms. And speaking of her relaxed and open attitude, one of the first things she says is to throw out the rules of writing. While this is highly applicable to her assignments, which she encourages us to hand write and write for our own eyes only, from what I see, it also applies to blogging.

I don't have a problem throwing out rules, even though I'm actually pretty good at following rules, and most of my life found that the easiest path, especially in school. That was not exactly true when it came to card games with my sister and brother, but that doesn't count. However I've found that the older I get the less apt I am to follow rules, especially stupid ones at work, which may have gotten me in trouble at times, but certainly revealed who my true supporters were. Breaking the rules can be fun, more exciting, and sometimes lead to much more creative solutions.

Perhaps that's why I have a hard time imposing rules on my kids. Plus I don't remember many while growing up, and we all turned out fine. Actually, the rules before the age of 12 were no sugar or white flour and no TV, and after 12 as long as we got good grades we could do whatever we wanted. I think back on these as I feed my kids ice cream for breakfast while we're in the middle of a 4 hour long TV marathon. My excuse is my kid just had his tonsils out yesterday . What was always implied, though, was basic respect for other people, which is what I want them to learn. In our house that translates to wrestle with your brother if you both are having fun, but treat him how he wants to be treated.

I want my kids to be able to follow rules, but to also understand when not to, either to do the right thing, or just have a little fun. I do worry that is simply my excuse for my inability to set and enforce rules, plus at the age of 4 that is a bit too subtle, so we have basically one hard and fast rule in our house - no hitting! And even that is hard for me to enforce. Donovan likes to hit when he gets excited - ala a fist pound replaces the high five. The worst is the aptly named "penis punch" which is so wrong on so many levels. He hits to protect his mommy from the hateful words from Keegan, when he's losing at a game or someone is just not playing how he wants to play. When he's tired or upset his default is hitting, and there is very little tougher for me than disciplining a tired and cranky child - it just seems to escalate the behaviour. I thought sitting with him in timeout would help to calm him down, which it did, but it made him scream for me the next few times he was in timeout.

So my latest solution, Daddy's in charge of enforcing the rules

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  1. Nicole, this is really funny, my kids are looking at my askew as I stare at the screen and laugh. I love the division of your life before 12 and after. I love the TV marathon and ice cream for breakfast post-tonsillectomy. And I love your final solution to leave the enforcement to dad. Please let people read this, they'll be on the floor! Thanks, too, for the rave review of my book. I'm so glad you find it inspirational. All best,
    Lisa, author of Writing Motherhood

  2. LOL.. I thought things would get better once toddlers get older and can reason. But, it appears it just gets tougher because they grow in power and start wearing us down.