Angie is a writer, twin mom, and bookaholic. She loves a well punctuated life and is a firm believer in God, dark chocolate, and the Oxford comma. Friends predict that the availability of Sharpies combined with society’s affinity for bad grammar will eventually get her arrested. Find her blogging at Angie Kinghorn: Life, with Artistic License.
Before I became a mom, I would see children behaving horribly in public places and say to my own mother, “My kids will never do that.”
She always laughed and said, “Never say never.”
I remembered that when they were throwing inconsolable fits at the pediatrician as infants and I realized there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I remembered it again when they were potty training and I thought nothing of pulling the van over so they could use the portable plastic potty I kept in the back (something I’d sworn over and over I would never do).
But you never know until you get there.
My twins are six now, so to a certain extent we’re here, wherever “here” is, so I’ve got enough parenting experience under my belt that I feel comfortable looking at a situation involving kids close in age to mine and saying, “No way would I allow my children to do that.”
There’s something parents feel like they can’t say, and it’s harming our kids. We feel the need to explain everything in detail, to reason, to make them understand, when in reality, most of the time they’d be better served with “because I said so.”
Take, for instance the pair of sisters crawling around the dressing area at Nordstrom last weekend, pausing to and peek under each door and into individual dressing rooms. I noticed it when a blonde head popped up near my feet in the three-way-mirror of doom.
I thought about saying something snarky – “Hi there, enjoying the show?” but her mother the only other person in the dressing area … and was in the dressing room right next to mine. Also? She kept asking the salesgirl for skinny designer jeans in impossibly small sizes. My experience is that starving adult women are argumentative and irrational, so I preferred to avoid contact.
Then I caught a glimpse of weird lights from the side. That would be the older sister and her light-up shoes, crawling around, doing the same thing. They were letting themselves into locked dressing rooms, and slamming the doors over and over.
Judging from what I saw, they were about 5 and 7.
Old enough to know better.
More importantly, though, old enough for their mother to have done something about it.
To be fair, she did.
She yelled their names plenty of times.
She told them to stop. Over and over.
She threatened that if they didn’t stop, they’d get a 15-minute time-out when they got home.
“But why, Mommy? Can’t we just run around some more?”
“You’re being loud. And there’s someone right next door. And we have to hurry home so Daddy won’t know how long we were out here shopping.”
Hold up, Mrs. Skinny Pants. You’re doing it wrong. The right answer here? “Because I said so.”
Period. The end. Done.
I know, it’s one of those things we all hated to hear growing up and probably swore we’d never say. But at the end of the day, why do you need your children to obey? Because you’re the parent and you have the authority. And you told them to obey.
It really is that simple. And our parents had it right by saying it until they were blue in the face.
Every day I see a child throw rocks or mulch on the playground, or hit another child, and the parental response is usually to get down and explain, “Now, Babycakes, we’ve talked about this. You can’t do that. If you do it five more times, we’re leaving.”
A neighbor’s child was at our house this weekend, and though it was a beautiful day, she tromped in barefoot, dirty, with a dripping popsicle, and announced they were going to play upstairs.
“No, you’re not.”
“Why not?” She had one hand on her hip, the picture of sassy at age 8.
“Because it’s a gorgeous day, the house is clean, and most importantly, because I said so.”
She was a bit taken aback, but the group went outside.
Later she decided it was hysterical to ring our doorbell, run around back, open the door from the garage, yell, “I think you’ve got a visitor!” and leave, usually leaving the back door open so that our dog could have wandered into the street had he possessed enough eyesight to notice the door was open.
After I caught her in the act, I went to the backyard and pulled her aside. In my scary low voice, I said, “If you ring my doorbell one more time, I am sending you home.” She was gobsmacked. It was as if no one had ever spoken to her that way before. So I repeated myself, just to make sure she got it. “Are we clear?” I asked. She nodded. “Then say ‘Yes, ma’am.’” “Yes, ma’am,” she whispered.
That was the end of the doorbell ringing.
Because I said so.
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