Michael went back to work yesterday. Actually, I’m not sure he ever really left. The man brought home a flash stick or some such doo-hickey that allowed him to work from his office here. Plus he went in to two meetings while he was on family leave and he spent one morning taking a physical for work. But now he’s really gone daddy gone, back at the office all day and I’m on my own with Cassie and Sam.
I was actually hoping that yesterday would be a complete disaster so that I’d have something funny to report back on this morning. I was certainly expecting it to be a disaster. No such luck. I am sorry to say that yesterday didn’t go badly at all. I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to but I came pretty close, and the house was still in one piece by the time Michael got home so that was good. It took me a little longer than I would have liked to get the chores done, and we didn’t spend nearly enough time outside playing, but I’m sure my schedule will smooth out in another couple of weeks.
The biggest problem I’m having right now is that Sam keeps gorging herself when she nurses, leading to some rather explosive spit-ups and a bad case of the late evening crankies and colicky behavior. Her belly gets tied up in knots with gas, and the only thing that soothes her is nursing some more, which in the end only makes the problem worse. I got her to take a binky for a little while last night, but that only delayed her screaming for fifteen minutes. Sam ended up spending most of the night in bed with me while I patted her back non-stop and tried to say soothing things like, “You know you don’t really want to nurse again. If you keep eating like this, you’ll ruin your girlish figure.” It made it hard to sleep through the night, but with a new baby, what did I expect?
Only one thing of real interest happened yesterday. I gave Cassie a spanking at the dojo. I normally try to avoid spanking her, but there are times when I think a good swat on the behind is the only way to straighten out bad behavior. Yesterday’s offense? Outright defiance and a temper tantrum. I took the kids to the dojo to visit while Michael took the afternoon class. Cassie was pretty good and Sam just sort of snoozed through it. After class was over, Cassie asked to play on the mat. We said she could play until we were ready to leave. Ten minutes later, Michael and I were all packed up and ready to go. I told Cassie to come off the mat and put her shoes on, and she immediately threw herself down on the floor and screamed “NO!”
If I have one rule that Cassie should know by now, it’s this – no temper tantrums allowed in the dojo. The dojo is a place where people come to learn, and the students pay good money to take classes there. They do not pay to hear my child scream. Cassie may sit and watch the class, she may play quietly on the side, she may enjoy a snack and watch a video with the other kids, and she may even talk with people as they come on and off the mat, but she is under no circumstances allowed to throw a tantrum. This is an adult class, taught during the day, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to attend. Not a lot of instructors would allow a small child to sit on the sidelines and play by themselves while Mommy takes class. The chance of said child being loud or ill-behaved and distracting the class is just too much for some teachers. So far, though, I’ve only had to haul Cassie out of there once. It was extremely disruptive and embarrassing, and after that one incident I made it clear that temper tantrums in the dojo were an automatic spanking offense.
Well, Cassie apparently forgot the rule about no tantrums. I blame three weeks of enjoying someone else’s style of discipline – not that my parents or Michael did a bad job of disciplining Cassie while I made the adjustment to having Sam. They took good care of my girl. They just don’t rule with an iron fist like I do. So Cassie threw her tantrum, right there in the middle of the mat where everyone could see her. I managed to order her to the sidelines, still screaming, so she could put on her shoes, but then she refused to turn and bow when she stepped off the mat. That’s a big no-no. Everyone, and I mean everyone, bows when coming on and off the mat. Cassie was trained from the get-go to bow, and she knows she’s supposed to do it. When I reminded her to bow, guess what she said? That’s right. “NO!”
I gave her three chances to bow and then the spanking started. Each time Cassie refused to bow, she got a swat on the behind. After the third swat, I put her over my knee, pulled down her underpants and gave her three hard spanks. She was howling by this time, but she still screamed “NO!” when I told her to bow, so she went over my knee again. And she said it again after that, but when I went to spank her again, boy did she move fast. She ran right over to the edge of the mat, bowed, and came back over crying. I got her shoes on and hustled her out the door as quickly as I could.
I sound like a tyrant, I suppose, spanking a child for refusing to bow to a mat, of all things. But there are rules in that dojo, and one of them I’ve already mentioned is that everyone who steps onto that mat has to bow. It’s about respect for the traditions of the martial art, and for the teacher and all the teachers who came before. If Cassie wants on that mat, she has to follow the dojo rules. If she wants to avoid a spanking, she has to follow my rules.
There’s a newspaper columnist, John Rosemond, who talks about raising kids. He’s a conservative, and I don’t always agree with what he has to say (especially not his views on single parenting and how all moms need to stay home rather than work), but I certainly agree with him on one thing. The most important thing you can teach your child is how to be well-behaved. Kids need to be able to say please, thank you, and excuse me. They need to know how to share and how to take turns. They need to understand how to play nice and how not to hit or bite other kids. And they need to understand that they’re choices and actions have consequences, memorable consequences that will leave a lasting impression. In other words, if a child breaks the rules, then they get punished.
I’m pretty strict along those lines. I demand that Cassie speak respectfully and always say please and thank you. I refuse to let my child act like a little monster, and it pays off. The one thing that amazes me when we go out is the number of people who tell me how extremely well behaved Cassie is. Of course she’s well-behaved, but if she’s really that much better behaved than other kids, we’ve got problems. Every child needs to learn respect and obedience, otherwise, how can they learn anything else? I’m not sending my child to school if she can’t behave. Teachers don’t get paid enough for that, thank you very much (and I know this because two of my best friends are teachers).
I try always to make Cassie’s punishments fit the crime. If she won’t help clean up after dinner, then she doesn’t get desert. If she won’t cooperate during her bath, then she doesn’t get stories before bed. If we’re in the toy store and she throws a fit because I won’t buy her everything she wants, she gets absolutely nothing, including whatever I promised to get her in the first place. Time outs work well as punishments for talking back and throwing things. And for temper tantrums? Well, if we’re at home, Cassie is only allowed to throw tempter tantrums up in her room. If we’re out, then we leave and go straight home so she can throw her tantrum in her room. Only a swat on the behind seems to get this kid’s attention. But for all out melt-downs like the one she had the other day, only a swat on the behind seems to get through to her, and yesterday even that took a little time to sink in.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, Michael is back at work, the grandparents are long gone, and it’s just me and the kids now. It’s time to reinstate the rules and get back to business as usual. Cassie is bouncing back to her normal sunny, respectful self and I predict I’m not going to have to dispense many spankings in the future. We’re on an even keel here, and while that may not make for interesting blog entries, at least I’m not pulling my hair out.