Aug 28, 2011

mean mom list

I got a little fed up a while ago when I wrote on my blog about my kids refusing to eat the dinner I made them. One of my commenters essentially suggested I back off and not make them eat veggies.

Well, here's the thing,

I make my kids eat veggies.

I also do lots of other things. Mean things. Things that my kids don't like or appreciate... but that, someday, will (I hope) turn them into people of character. I look at the current generation of teens and adolescents (forgive me for generalizing and doing what everybody else does and judging and dumping on you guys) and I see too much entitlement. Too much worry about society's opinion, not enough worry about the respect of parents. I see kids being snarky to their family and even viscious to their siblings. I see families that hate to be together. It makes me really sad.

I think kids need to eat their veggies. I think parents should make them. I mean, you can't force veggies down a kid's throat. But you sure can reserve the right to not serve them anything else until said veggies are finished. And yes, I have had a child go for a day, even a day and a half, refusing to eat veggies and voluntarily going hungry. But, let's face it...
a kid gets hungry enough, and they eat their veggies. And when they finally fork their way through that limp, sodden mess of salad that, 24 hours before, was crisp and at least somewhat-more-appetizing, they learn to eat them during mealtimes.

Sound harsh?

Well, wait 'till I get going. Here's my "mean mom" list:

1) I make my kids eat dinner at the dinner table. I make myself and my husband eat dinner with them. And I make them learn table manners. Sure, there are jokes and eye-rolling... but they get it. And the family time is invaluable. I plan to continue to enforce the everybody-at-the-table-for-dinner for as long as my children remain under my roof.

2) I make my kids put things away. When they are done, they put it away. Or else they get an evil eye and a brief chewing out from me (and if you know me, you know that my evil glares can be frightening!)

3) I make my kids be nice to each other. We don't say "stupid," "hate," or "wierd," we don't call each other names, and we don't speak to each other in a disprespectful tone. Teasing is allowed as long as the person being teased is still happy, but when they start to get sad, it stops.

4) Lying, stealing, and hurting on purpose are capital offenses. They put you away for a long time. Depending on age, accountability, and recent repeat offenses, my kids know could be spending several minutes to a couple of hours in their room for purposely engaging in any of these behaviors.

5) if you act like a little kid in my house (disobeying, whining, throwing a tantrum when you don't get what you want) then you take a nap like a little kid, in my house. Naptime is after lunch. It lasts 1-1.5 hours. Yes, I know you're bored... but if you don't really take a nap, you get to stay in your room longer because little kids need sleep.

6) If you want toys, you have to take care of them. That includes keeping them picked up.

7) My kids have jobs. They're not fun jobs. They have to clean the table and sweep the floor and clear the table and keep their rooms and the toy room clean. Every day. In the case of the table--that happens 2 times per day.

8) No allowance. If my kids want money, there are plenty of extra jobs that I wouldn't mind paying them to do for me. They have to be done well if they want the full payment.

9) If you've asked once, you wait for mom to answer. If you ask twice or more (unless you were thinking that mom didn't hear, and just repeated yourself to make sure you were heard) the answer changes to an automatic "no."

10) If my kids want to play with friends/neighbors, they have to have proper manners around them. No yelling, no using words our family doesn't use, and no peeking in anybody's windows or other impolite behavior... it doesn't matter if your friends are doing it or not.

11) When mom talks, kids listen.

12) If kids use an "outside voice" in the house, kids get to go outside for a while.

13) Mom should only have to ask once. If you've heard her, and she has to ask twice, that's verging on disobedience. Three times, and it's a consequence.

14) No backtalk/arguing. Kids can object once to make their feelings known, and mom will listen and either take said feelings into account or explain why things still need to happen. More argument is disobedience and gets a consequence.

K. This might sound nazi-ish to some. But honestly, I don't think it is. I think it's logical. And it's real life.

I have a friend whose husband is a professor. He teaches a very difficult course. He always brings home stories about students coming to him and demanding a higher grade "because they deserved it" for turning an assignment in, for "making an effort," etc etc etc. They argue. They're disprespectful. They threaten to go to their parents for backup.

Here's the thing... I think that, if we don't teach our kids to live in the real world, we're doing them a real disservice. Obedience and respect are very important concepts for small children to learn and understand. As they grow older, it's not so much about obedience, as it is learning correct principles and learning how to govern themselves. But habits go far in leading children the right direction.

I want polite kids.

I want respectful kids.

I want kind kids.

I want responsible kids.

I want kids who appreciate the efforts and needs of those around them.

I want kids who know how to work.

I want kids who are humble.

I want kids who, when they fail at something, instead of demanding a recount, they look back over their actions and see how they can improve their performance.

I want kids who feel close to each other, and close to me, and close to their father, and who can trust that we are teaching them the things they need to know to survive in the real world, and don't feel a need to retreat into a parent's basement at age thirty and play videogames all day in order to escape from the real world.

And honestly... this might sound harsh. No, it does sound harsh... on paper like that, harshness just exudes from that list I just reeled off. But guess what? The other half is...

love. Love love love your kids, and talk, talk talk to them, and listen, listen listen to them. Treat them like you actually like them.

And then when they have to swallow those bitter moments of frustration, when mom and their wills clash... it'll go down easier. That's what I think, at least. That's what I remember from how I was raised. And I turned out pretty good, I think. All the parenting books in the world can't argue with results.

Aug 19, 2011

more writing adventures

One thing that I have struggled with is how to approach other writers' writing. I go to critique group, and the point of critique group is to let the other writers know what you enjoyed and also what you feel could be improved in what they have read.

So what do you do when someone at critique group reads something that is objectionable, but not in the writing sense... it's objectionable in the sense that, in real life, if you were reading that book, you'd put it down after the first couple of pages because you are *morally* objecting to the subject matter.

The approach I have taken thus far has been one of "hands off" morals/morality. I only comment on actual writerly mistakes/possible improvements. But it does get akward. I'm heartily glad we don't read one anothers' work in the critique group I currently attend, because even listening turns me beet red on occasion.

The hard thing, as an artist, is to figure out where that "line" really is. It has to be drawn in a different place when you are looking at the works of those who do not share your moral schema. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't do the "normal" missionary work... of being a good example, etc etc. But honestly, I feel there is absolutely no room for preachiness in a writer's critique group.

One of the writers I meet with every wendesday writes Romance novels. And by romance, I mean, ROMANCE, not the mormon girl twilight-hinting-but-not-quite-going-there stuff. Erotica.

Another writer is working on a manuscript that is about a completely amoral demon (who is a very well-written, extremely hilarious character, by the way) and his attempts to "switch sides." IN his story, the roles of God and Satan are, in a way, reversed... well, not reversed. His universe depicts all religions and supernatural beings as sort of human... imperfect in their own ways, ekeing out their own existence and competing for the "worship" of humans. Particularly, the worship/reverence of artists.

It is a great story. In every way.

And in real life, I'd never read it.

But as a critiquer, it completely stuns me. It's pretty amazing.

I feel a bit dissasociative, identity-wise, at times, in my critique group. But in the end, they are also ALL great people. Great, great, great. Funny funny funny. Still my tribe.

What's your thought about artists, and appropriateness, and lines, and morality and how it comes into everything?

Aug 11, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog

Completely cheesy and predictable title, I know.

Listen, blogging friends.
I feel horrible for neglecting this blog that I have so faithfully kept updated for years. Five years... at least a post a month, but usually more like several per week.

What happened?

Well, when life is stressful, I tend to not want to write about it and talk with other people about it. I get really introverted. Us Nosurfs just went through a He-yuge change. We left friends behind. We left our HOME (yes, provo was our home. I lived there ten years, and Skywalker had been there sixteen by the time we left.) And we went off into the scary blue yonder without a clue as to what would be welcoming us.

Well, we're here now. In our house we bought (and therefore will be staying in for a long time.)

It's a gorgeous house. Startlingly so. I never expected so much... I feel so very overwhelmed with blessings at the moment. NO, I mean it... overwhelmed. Too much. Overflowing. Being poured over and drowned...

I know that this sounds ungrateful. I've been saying a lot of prayers lately to the effect of, "Dear Father, I don't want you to think I'm not grateful for the astonishing blessings you've given me, but I'm feeling rather overwhelmed here..."

When you move to a place and decide on purpose that you'll be staying there for thirty years or so, it can be a little scary. Scratch that... it's terrifying. And while a piece of me aknowledges how much I love this place we've moved to... that it's our dream home in our dream town and still within 20 minutes of Skywalker's dream job, I'm still reeling from all the changes. Still recovering. Still offloading all the stress.

And another problem is that right now, the only internet connection I have is a tethered android phone. IT works, but the blogging I could usually get done in one hour now takes me four. It's made for a lot less internet-browsing, blog-hopping, drive-by-or-more-thoughtful-commenting, or really, reading anything and everything on the internets.

But I am going to force myself to blog once a week. Thursday evenings. HOld me to it... It's Skywalker's night out and generally speaking, I have nothing better to do than to sit for five minutes at a time watching a loading bar creep across my screen :/

Anyway, don't abandon me, blogging friends. Please come visit me again... I'll be good, I promise. And there is likely some exciting stuff on the horizon... for all of us. I can't wait to read about what you're up to, even if I can't always find time to comment with my current internet situation.