Awhile ago I went out to lunch with some friends and brought the two little girls. It was a disaster. Princess wanted to sit at a different booth than we were sitting at and I had to threaten her with not getting any soda if she didn’t sit with us. She ended up hiding under the table until the food came, but at least she was under OUR table. The girls ate their food without much incident, but they finished their food before I did and got restless. I just let them play around me in the booth while I ate, trying to ignore them. But they were driving me crazy and I was embarrassed that my kids were so out of control.
I should have done something to keep them calm. I could have thought ahead and brought toys or coloring books to keep them occupied, but that thought didn’t even occur to me at the time. I could have put them in timeout for misbehaving, but instead of spending my time enforcing timeout I wanted to be enjoying lunch and conversation with my friends. Not that I was able to enjoy it as it was.
I think my disciplining skills have deteriorated since I’ve had the girls. It might be because having them 10 1/2 months apart nearly killed me. It could be because I am getting too lazy in my old age. Either way I have not been setting clear limits and following through consistently with any of my kids lately. I know what to do, I just don’t do it. I give them way too many chances: “You’re going to go in timeout if you don’t stop. Do you want to go in timeout? Are you going to stop or go in timeout? I’m going to put you in timeout… OK, are you ready for timeout? That’s it you’re going in timeout.” I get frustrated and emotional instead of just calmly giving them a consequence: “J-Dub, I am getting so sick of your whining. I am this close to putting you to bed right now. You are driving me crazy. You are so lucky I am even letting you stay up right now. If I hear one more word you are going straight to bed, and I am not even kidding. I can’t handle this, you are making this a bad day for me…” Sometimes I even purposefully ignore bad behavior just because I don’t want to deal with it, but if I notice it and DON’T do anything, they’ll know that they can get away with it in the future.
I’ve been doing better at this recently. I realized I want to be able to take my girls out in public and actually have them behave. My boys do a great job (of course they are older, but I think I trained them pretty well). I owe it to the girls to teach them not to be brats. They really have been pretty bratty lately. I think my renewed efforts are working, though. The girls have started acting up more and becoming more obstinate, which must mean that they are testing their new limits to see if they will stick. I really need to make them stick or this will become so much harder to deal with in the future.