Let me just come right out and say it – if you have children, it’s inevitable. You will sound like a broken record (you know, those vinyl things we used before CD’s were invented).
As a parent, you will be obligated to repeat everything – multiple times.
- Make sure the clothes go into the hamper ( not on the floor in the general vicinity of the hamper).
- When the toilet paper is finished, throw the cardboard roll into the trash (don’t create a decorative pile on the counter or stash them in the vanity drawers).
- Check over your math homework by doing the inverse operations before you show it to me (My checking it is only a courtesy to to make sure you understand what is being taught. Finding the careless mistakes is your responsibility).
Get the point? The most obvious, sensible, reasonable directions just seem to go in one ear and come out the next. Oddly enough, you never have to say “yes, you can go to the party”, or ” sure you can stay up until American Idol is over” more than once. Those things they can hear – and comprehend.
Listen, I don’t want to discourage anyone. Your children will learn and they will get it. Just be prepared for the fact that all of this “getting it” may not occur in your lifetime. No matter how sweet, obedient, and intelligent a child is, some of the seemingly most intuitive, and simple instructions just run off. So the next time your little darling seems oblivious or needs a little reminding…
- Try getting in real close, looking them in the eye, and whispering. Nothing catches our attention like the unexpected. After a while shouting looses effectiveness anyway. The tribe simply builds up immunity. In no time at all red faced, volcano-like parental eruptions become as invisible as the dirty socks they have to step over to get to the closet. (why don’t they ever pick those up?)
- Find different ways of saying the same old thing. This is mostly for your own entertainment. They will show few signs of reception and if you have to do it often, you might as well have fun.
- When they do something that seems absolutely outrageous, calmly let them know that its not acceptable instead of shouting “How could you do such a thing!?” or “What were you thinking!?”. Maybe they should know better but don’t take the bait and start yelling. This is not the time to let them see you sweat.
- Be consistent. I know, that’s a hard one. Sometimes exhaustion from repetition will get you.
- Prioritize. Decide what are the absolute “I will not tolerate that in this house” transgressions and save the extreme voices, incendiary looks, and whatever else you need to do for those offenses.
Remember, if you want the kids to take you seriously, don’t take yourself too seriously
Update May 15, 2009 A friend sent me the link to this video that fits in perfectly. Enjoy.
(video from here)