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When the Get-Along Shirt Doesn’t Work

I’ve found the most effective way to parent unruly small children is to find the one thing they love…. and crush it.

Wait, hold on. Maybe I’ve set that up wrong. I’m not some kind of monster. I don’t mean their hopes, or their dreams, or even the one stuffed animal they absolutely can’t sleep without.

I have to give my kids credit where credit is due– when they go, they go all in. They don’t half ass anything except for their chores. For everything else in life- it’s the whole ass. Especially when it comes to being Grade A Buttpickles.

Yeah. I said BUTT. PICKLES.

Would you prefer me to type “ASSHOLES”? ‘Cause I could have said that, too. But I didn’t. And now you made me.

They’re total buttpickles. Always getting themselves in trouble by arguing, or whining over nothing, or complaining about nothing, or being overly sassy, or chewing with their mouths open IN MY EARS. But the worst over the past few months has been their fighting with each other. It’s… I’d say infuriating, but we’re beyond that point.

When it comes to punishment for their buttpickly crimes, I’ve tried just about everything. They’ve gotten grounded. Taking away internet access doesn’t work because they don’t use the internet. Their rooms didn’t seem to do the trick because their rooms are full of toys they enjoy, and let’s be real, I’m not going to waste the time to remove the things they enjoy from their rooms, and I really don’t feel like spending MORE time arguing with them over forcing them to do it. No thanks. I’ve tried grounding them to places with no toys to try to bore them into brotherly respect. Nope. I’ve put their toys in prison and forced them to do chores to earn them back (this really only works with gifts around Christmas, in my experience)- and they are STILL. BEING. BUTTPICKLES. FIVE. MINUTES. LATER.

Don’t you tell me to try the “Get-Along” shirt. My kids are immune. The little one LIKES putting his hands on the older one. Tell me again how that is going to be effective? I can take away dessert for the rest of their lives and they’re still going to do the stupid stuff they do to get themselves in trouble, and no one is happy. Everyone’s snappy and sassy and miserable. That’s not cool, dudes. Why should I be punished when they’re the ones in the wrong? it’s one thing to be a mediocre parent (Hi! Nice to meet you!) but I refuse to be ineffective.

That’s why I had to bring out the “big guns” so to speak.

I finally figured it out. At long last, I found the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world. The ONE thing that would utterly dessimate them if I took it away and force them to stop being buttpickles. maybe not once and for all, but at least for a little while.

THE TABLET.

Out of all of their toys, all of their possessions, all of the things they like to do, the thing they like the most is playing games on the tablet. So simple. So small. So effective. They never should have let on that they loved it so much. That was their first mistake. Actually, their first mistake was repeatedly fucking up enough for me to be devious enough to seek and destroy their happiness, but THIS IS WHAT IT HAS COME TO.

Trust me when I say that when you find the ONE thing they absolutely DO NOT WANT TO LOSE, and they start down the path of ultimate buttpickle-ness, and you dangle their love over their head, threatening to take it from them for the rest of forever, they have the tendency to fall in line rather quickly. It may not be lasting. It may not be permanent, but it’s enough to shut them the hell up for a couple of seconds. That’s enough for me.

Posted on July 26, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment
Holdin' Holden

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  • OMG! You just described my 2 children. Fortunately for me, mine are now out of the house, however when they were too young for me to kick out, this is exactly how they acted. I was miserable, being the baby of 4 kids with my sister closest in age at 10 years older than me. My brothers were 11 and 13 years older than me so my first memories of my oldest brother were almost when he moved out to go to college. My other brother and sister taught me to be cool so I hung out with them and their adult friends. It was great. So I didn’t understand how my 2 kids could be so hateful to each other ALL THE TIME when i had showered them with love and affection during their young years. Then when my oldest, a son, got to about 14-15 he started being hateful to me.
    My husband was the middle child of 5 kids in 10 years so he didn’t see what was wrong with their behavior. I mean, he learned how to fight – and win – very young. He and his older brother almost killed or maimed each other for years, i.e. throwing darts at each other, stabbing his older brother (the one who taught him to fight by torturing him) in the leg with a fork., and many rocks and dirt clods etc. were thrown over the years, most in self-defense on my husbands part. My brother-in-law was the “squeaky wheel” of the kids. Then, one day my husband came back from basic training…and all that ceased. Lol. If you looked at them after that point, you would have never even thought they stuck their tongues out at each other. I do have to say that most of the fighting was between the older brother and my husband. The oldest and youngest children were girls and they left them pretty much alone. The younger brother was just getting to fighting age when the oldest moved out. The 2 fighters became best friends and laugh about almost all of it now.
    Sorry to give you such a lengthy background but my point is the lack of understanding I received from my husband was infuriating but understandable given the way he grew up vs. the way I did. I never fought with anyone til I got married. Haha.
    Anyway, I tried a number of things, with some having a better result than others. Here are a few beginning with the beginning:
    1. Talking to my son because I just KNEW he would understand why I didn’t like it and that it hurt my feelings when he was so mean to his little sister. Surely our close relationship the first 5 years meant something to him. Right?? Yeah right, he just GOTI (giggled on the inside). The torture of my daughter continues.
    **I ceased spanking him when I hurt myself a few times trying to hurt him. Haha.
    2. When my daughter got bigger, she got pretty good at fighting back. It almost became a game between the 2 of tasen to see if they could get me to yell at them. I tried to ignore them and/or send them outside or to their rooms but they were smart enough to figure that out and start out being nice but end up fighting. He was the only one who could get her riled up or crying. Any other time she was a pleasure to be around. He apparently was too because I always got compliments from teachers and other adults. He just couldn’t act that way to me. I do have to say that when it was just me and him, we were good.
    **I used to tell him “you better be across the room from me when you smartoff because my hand is just gonna slap your face and i might have a chance to cool down the farther you are from me”. He eventually tested me and I successfully carried out the punishment.
    3. This is when I started using my “snap and point” method of discipline whereby I would snap my fingers and point to his room while announcing that I wasn’t going to listen to him be mean to her or a smartass to me. He actually had the nerve to bow up at me but I was still a lil bit bigger than him then and would back him to his room. He eventually ended up liking this as did I. It was s win-win situation, I thought, but we just grew apart as he got older. When he turned 16 he got a job and we saw him even less. We were all so busy that I didn’t realize it since he still managed to show that creepy side of himself. I believe he was also trying to establish himself as an “adult” even if he was an ass.
    4. As they were growing up, they started to at least stick up for each other. I had to have a stern talk with my daughter because I noticed she would laugh at him or join in anything or anyone at his expense. Not acceptable. Both of my children became overweight when we moved out in the country. I thought it was too difficult to take them everywhere as much as they wanted since we lived 10 miles from town.
    5. The year after he graduated HS my daughter started her freshman year. They finally started having fun and talking nice to each other after around 8-10 years of discord.
    6. My husband only got involved a handful of times to help disarm the situation, UNLESS he thought our son was being a smartass to him. There were also a couple times he saw us joking without hearing us and tried to step in. I had to stop him from really attempting to assist sometimes because he was out of line. My son was great when his dad was being jerk and they became closer and still are, with or without the Princess around.
    7. Here’s a couple funnies NOW, not so much then.
    A few times when I got home from work, they would both meet me in the driveway. My son would have 4 finger size scratches going down his neck and I would really get on to my daughter through her argument that he hurt her first even there were no marks on her. She was pissed and he would be gleaming. I found out that she did that to him while he was holding her at arms length, literally, to keep her from doing something, to be a JERK. LOL. Funny now, not then.
    Secondly, one time at the mall they were being so bad to each other and me and they wouldn’t stopaltecr I told them I was leaving and they’d have to find their way home and I proceeded to walk out and straight to the truck. When they finally made their way to the store door, I put that 8 cyl big engine in 1st gear and revved the engine and drove all the way around the store. When I got back, they were pacing and talking to each other to figure out what to do. Needless to say, they were relieved to see me and were pretty nice to each other for a couple of weeks. I know it sounds extreme but I was about to beat them like a red-headed stepchild if I couldn’t get their attention. Lol.
    I did a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have but they are now 32 and 27 years old and although they don’t see each other because of distance, they love each other and are very proud of each other and they still manage to piss each off every now and then. I read part of a book titled “Help Me! I Have a Teenager” and it taught me a trick – pick your battles and recognize their moods.
    They were awesome teens even if it wasn’t to each other and they’ve been joyful adults. Better than I ever was thanks to my siblings teaching me a few bad habits. Haha. Good luck!
    Again, sorry this is so long…I left a lot out.