Parent Judge: List the Offenses!

The Parent Court is now in session! The Parent Judge is now in session.

Opening Arguments in discussing the case of judging bad parenting begin!

One of the things you learn after having kids is that it’s pretty darn distasteful to openly talk about poor parenting.  The Parent Judge realizes this and sets it aside because the Parenting Court is now in order. Put good taste aside for one moment to talk about things some idiots do. Now, this excludes parents who solve their discipline problems with a switch, a leather belt or a karate chop.  Those people are the bad guys on the Lifetime Channel and we can all hate them (or pity depending on how open minded you are).  But when it comes to regular, run of the mill parenting that doesn’t involve a tall dramatic arc like The Burning Bed, we learn when our little kids run around that criticizing other people’s parenting is pretty gauche.  A fellow parent sent me a message about this sometimes trait and I thought about it and the politics of parenting.  Her code name/nom de plur is Wired Momma (no she didn’t pay me/send me products or invite me to BlogHer! because I mentioned her) but she brought up an interesting point. If you see if a parent doing something stupid, you can’t or shouldn’t in our society call them on it. Why? Because any idiot can be a parent in this country without a license, examination, test, prep-course or whatever else makes you somewhat improved in something you’ve never do in your life. It’s just “not done”.

Now, when is this really necessary, you know..to criticize other parents? Yes! The Parent Judge must list the offenses! Here is my abrievated list updated daily!!!!

  • Any child over the age of 3 stuck with a pacifier in their mouths out in public.  I can’t tell you how many 5 year-olds  (I estimate) that I’ve seen who have a pacifier in their mouths and are grunting, pointing and moaning. Why? Because the can’t frigging learn to talk with a piece of plastic in their mouths! OR they have this ghostly disembodied look to them as if they are trying to tell their parents something telepathically.  My kid still uses a pacifier to sleep for naps, not for nighttime, just naps.  She’s 2.3 years old and talks faster than Joan Rivers and more crazily than Pat Robertson but at least she talks.
  • Parents on their cell phones or texting while their kids are trying to talk to them, play with them or just generally need a parent.  Yesterday at this indoor gym there was a dad with headphones on apparently listening to something while his kids were coming up asking him to play.   Is Arcade Fire more important than you daughters? Hello, I’m still listening to the same shit I was in high school – it’s not going away.   Don’t get me started on the Blackberry, IPhone or probably now the IPad.  More ways for idiots to zone out at the park and avoid having any interaction with their kids.  The message sent: this small piece of plastic deserves my attention and you don’t.  Now, if your kid is 10 at the park you don’t need to monitor them, but younger kids need to feel like someone gives a darn about their playing. Do it.
  • The braggart who talks about how great their kids are and never dishes on their annoyances. You know the type, their kid is simply an extension of them and they are insecure boobs who need validation and eternal love, therefore their parenting is perfect and their children are perfect.  Listen, I think kids are great and they are taught to live as we teach them — what choice do they have? But on the other hand, they are fallible and their fallible nature causes chaos, destruction, sleeplessness and general pain-in-the-assness.  Don’t deny it.  People who admit their kids can be a pain in the ass (especially toddlers) understand that growing up is hard to do and it need not be done with parental pressure or fear of failure.   Failure is what makes us human rather than machines who end up with a first class ticket to the psychotherapist’s office because their parents never let them do something incorrectly.
  • Following that, it’s really the control freak who makes me want to kill.  They are the parents telling their kid how to play, how to talk, how to do this and how to do that.  They are always correcting, hovering and forever interrupting the play and joy that is childhood.  They fear bumps, bruises, crying, anger and especially mutiny! A control freak fears the child that turns on them the most, an independent child that wants to do their own thing rather than things “their way”.

My list grows as I see more parents in gym classes, at story times, out at the grocery store or the playground.  I’m not saying my parenting is the best way, hell, it’s probably a B- on a good day, but it’s far more humanistic to the way I think children need to be raised which is an acknowledgment that they are annoying and lovable little dough balls which need constant attention, love and appreciation for the trails and tribulations they undergo to be successful in life.  Life is a hard road to hoe, let’s not make it more difficult to by being lame parents.   I call upon a new age where we can call lame parenting for what it is: lame.   Would that lower the number of people who decided to have kids? I dunno but it would make for some great blogs! The Parent Judge is now adjourned.  I invite you to send in your examples of annoying parenting.

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The Answer is NO!

This darling princess must have abusive parents! Note indications of sadness. NO!

My darling daughter is now 2.3 years old and smart as the dickens (can’t hide my pride Internet Readers!).  Yet I’m troubled by a continuing problem that comes up whenever I ask the sweet little thing a question — the answer is always and unequivocally no.   No Cheerios for breakfast, no jacket to go outside, no nap, no dinner, no bath no, no, no a thousand times no!  For those keeping score at home, that means no.

Punditdad has been doing this ‘lil old thing of staying home with the kid for 2.3 years so I’ve seen every poop, pee, scream and whatever else happens in her life up until this point.  I’ve been “available” if that is how you want to put it.  Now, to a person who has witnessed all this, it’s easy to be frustrated when you know that your child likes to dip her pasta that’s she’s eating for the trillionth time in ketchup and ranch dressing but refuses it for dinner even though she is hungry and tired.  Does Punditdad beg,  cajole and negotiate with the  daughter to convince her that eating her disgusting concoction is a great idea? Sometimes. But only when another parental or grandparental unit is on-site.  I abhor such negotiations.  Let ‘er starve. If she’s hungry, she’ll be back. I guarantee it.  Negotiations are for hostages.

But back to NO! It’s started me to ask less questions and make more “commands” as in COMMAND AND CONTROL. You know, the army jargon? Well it works wonders for your ego, but when it dissolves in the grocery aisle because you said no chocolate bars at 9:00 AM.   At that point, you really have to do a gut check. Did you mean it or do you give a sh*t what the woman with the beautiful and obedient daughter thinks of you while pushing her cart down in the aisle trying to find the ingredients to the Turkish EggPlant Frittata that her daughter JUST LOVES and eats every time?  Her daughter is an ANGEL and your daughter is clearly a mean-spirited spoiled brat (putting it nicely).  I’m just trying to set some rules and who really needs chocolate that early in the morning? Say yes to that and the next thing it’s a thong and a Mercedes for her 16th birthday.  No, the rules have to be drawn somewhere. Right? Are you with me?

More or less, discipline at this toddler age is an art rather than a science and Punditdad doesn’t beat himself up over the choices made (win or lose) that he makes and neither should you! Lift your head up even if your kid is drinking ketchup at the Denny’s or throwing his poop in the public restroom.  Someday you’ll laugh about it and feel so much better than you do now.  I know I can feel it coming any minute.  NO! No?

Tantrums and the Crying Couch

Our new house has a fab reading/sun room from which Punditdad can read the paper, drink coffee in the morning and survey his tiny kingdom while getting some inkling of the coming weather that day.  The room is suitable for the Bean’s toys, books and whatever other crap she has in those boxes.  This is where we read her books in the morning after breakfast.

Normally, we all get up between 6:30 and 7 AM, I feed the Bean, grab some food and coffee for myself while she eats, then we retire to the sun room for some books.  We are still trying to convey that we cannot read books indefinitely, that there can only be 5 or so books read every morning. Not 20.  I like to read the daily paper in the DAY that I get it.

Normally, when I bring the Chicago Tribune up to my face, this indicates that the books are done.  Yet a small hand grabs my arm and pleads “Peeeeezzzz” which is please in Bean-talk.

If a suitable breakfast has been consumed, then the tantrum simmers to disappointment and the issue is over.  We go about our business and I only have to wait about 20 more minutes before something else is demanded of me. If an insufficient amount of food has been consumed then a tantrum usually ensues.

I don’t get particularly upset over tantrums when we are home. I simply leave her on the couch and  go to the next room.  Tantrums are not encouraged, tolerated or in my case, viewed.  I usually move to another room and drink my coffee.  Hey, she’s screaming, I have warm delicious coffee, so what? At home, nobody can here you scream toddler!

Screaming in public is different and usually she is better about that, only when pushed to the limit or starving like an Ethiopian vagrant.  I don’t blame her.  Ask Punditmom on a Sunday afternoon when I’m grumpy and hungry….I’m usually a few seconds away from crying and screaming myself. But at home, wandering around screaming and crying isn’t tolerated so I  have created the “Crying Couch”.  You sit there during crying and nobody bothers you but nobody is paying attention to you.  Scream all you want, my coffee is still hot and there’s  plenty of cream in the fridge.  Let’s see how the Sox did. Can you see I’m disinterested?

I try not to let tantrums affect me.  It’s only at mealtime that I go into a berzerker rage over an upset toddler.  My eyes roll back into my skull, my face turns fire engine red and my chest heaves like a epileptic.   This usually causes the Bean to dump her plate over the highchair.  I usually convulse all around, flopping like a fish on a dock.   She knows how to push my  buttons I’ll hand it to her.  But lately, my cold and sadistic side has won out.  The code word is “all done”?  If that is said, the plate goes away. Doesn’t matter if you had two bites or the whole thing.  Her word is law on this.  So if she is playing with her food or generally disatisfied with the choice and I ask, “All done?”. She is reticent to say yes.

Toddlers, though young and inexperienced, aren’t stupid.  They get hungry and want to eat.  If they know it’s going away or the rules will be enforced, then poof, they start playing by the rules.  Is it always black and white? No, but rules like All Done and the Crying Couch make my life a little clearer.  Crying and screaming? Do it on the couch.  Playing and yelling about your food? All done see ya later.   Makes my job a little easier each time.   Besides, my coffee is getting cold.

Throw Up Isn’t So Bad

As a kid I used to think that throw up was gross.  Then during college I realized it was the body healing itself and Gawd punishing me for my sins.  Usually the sin of mixing wine with tequila or wine with anything actually.  If I got the evil out of my tummy I would feel much better the next day instead of rolling in agony all night.  Just get it out and over with.  While my post-collegial life has had limited barfing sessions, when they have occured, they are a welcome respite to the awful feeling of nauseau, stomach rummbling and general malaise that the pre-vomiting condition entails.  It sucks.  As it stands, before I had a kid I was actually pretty ambivilent about throw up.  I didn’t necessarily like it at all but welcomed it when it was over as a natural part of the “cycle of life” and other B.S.

Since having a kid I knew she was going to barf eventually and I wasn’t necessarily afraid, it just hung omminssly in the back of my mind.  I’m not talking spit up or any of that “little stuff” either. Well, our darling daughter has been supringly healthy for the first 20 months of her life, so the other day, when she at a huge raisin bagel with extra cream cheese I thought nothing of it.  During her nap I heard several screams but figured they were just her talking. Then the tone changed and, since it was about 2 hours into the nap, I figured it was time to get up.  She lay covered in dried vomit and had a very sickly gross palor.  I felt guilty for being reading the NY Times while my kid was throwing up but whaddya going to do sit outside her door?

Well, I thought, her comes the vomit.  But that didn’t bother me, it was the not knowing what caused the vomit that bugged.  Was it overeating? Did she gag herself? Did she just have a sick stomach? Dunno.  Anyway, in attempting to clean her up, she started to ralph on her back and I realized I was about to have a Jimi Hendrix Experience if I didn’t turn her on her side.  Daddy saves the day! Baby doesn’t choke on own vomit!  She dribbled some more out and all over me and in the tub where I was tempted to spray her down with the shower but realized that might ingrain some Karen Silkwood memory in her that would never be fixed.  With towels, a change of clothes and some hugs, we re-constructed the baby and got into a good zone.   We ate saltines  and water for a snack later because you know how hungry you are after throwing up right? Mom always swears by saltines and so do I.  Carry them everywhere.

I know some stomach bug is going hit our house some day and we’ll all be bent over the toilets but so far we’ve been lucky.  I can confidently say  I will be ok with it.  I’m prepared to clean up, hold heads up and wipe mouths clean and give hugs appropriately when called upon to do so.   Throw up isn’t so bad.  It’s all how you approach it.

Whine Isn’t Just a Drink for Dinner

Punditdad has had it up to here with whining. Both from his toddler and from the people out in the place we call the world.  People are too wimpy to really be angry but too bored to let things pass.  Our darling daughter gets instant R-E-S-P-E-C-T if she screams at TOP volume if you give her a rice cake instead of crackers.  I dig it. I’d rather someone was decisive with me rather than mildly complaining.  People should be the same. Mad at something? Leave. Don’t like a website? Don’t go there? In fact, I’m whining about people whining which is probably part of my blogging self loathing.

The latest thing some dad bloggers have been whining about the picture at the bottom of the page, apparently in time for Father’s Day.

I”m not sure how this is offensive.  So you don’t like being a SAHD? Stop.  Now what would happen if it was a woman in an evening gown? I think I’d find that a bit liberating eh? Don’t have to be a stay at home employee regardless of your gender.  I can only come to the conclusion that there are  a tremendous number of people who are actively looking for something to be insulted so it provides their shitty blogs with meaningless content.  This blog doesn’t need content to be shitty, that’s why Punditdad stays away and abandons you, the reader, at various times.   I’ll be back soon but do you think this picture is offensive to anyone? I don’t shop Lord and Taylor but the guy looks sharp in his suit.  Why are some kids in jammies but some are dressed for a summer day? I’m offended as a parent!

Once a Mormon missionary, now an overdressed SAHD.

Once a Mormon missionary, now an overdressed SAHD.