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parenting: my shaolin crane kung fu style

Last May I wrote about my achievement of zen-like calm around my kids. I was remembering the post a few days ago when I read an honest, unapologetic post by a good bloggy friend Emily about parenting difficulties. She really laid on the table, and I applaud her frank portrayal of motherhood at its most challenging. As I unveiled yesterday, I’m pleased she’s stopping by the blog on Friday to share some of her best stay-at-home mom tricks.

Her words particularly struck a chord with me right now because Charlie is rapidly heading toward the second half of her second year, a time that is already proving to be more challenging than anything we’ve dealt with so far. She wants WHAT she wants WHEN she wants it. It hasn’t helped that she and Vivi have swapped sick germs for the past month, so I felt I had to comfort her every cry and whim. A few days ago, in the midst of making her what must have been her fourth bowl of crackers and cheese (because she will only eat a trifecta of yellow foods this week: eggs, cheese, and applesauce), it occurred to me I was setting a bad pattern. Yup, back to square one. Serenity now!

I’m pleased to say that with Vivi, each month is better than the last. She is tremendously helpful with Charlotte, not to mention patient with Charlie’s many temper tantrums thrown whenever Vivi won’t hand over the toy she wants (which Vivi was usually playing with first). Vivi mostly just says in a cute voice “Here you go!” and goes on her merry way playing with another toy. However, school has taught her the phrase “I was playing with that toy FIRST!,” so it’s not all rainbows and lollipops around here.

Rainbows and lollipops…. and Kleenex.

Sometimes I’ll walk into a room, and Vivi will shout “I wasn’t doing anything!,” at which point I have to play Figure Out What Your Daughter Did Wrong for a few minutes. Fortunately, her lying streak hasn’t really kicked in, so she’ll fess up as soon as I begin scanning the room. Often it’s no big deal, like she took a yogurt cup out of the recycling bin and put her hair ties in it. Oooohhh, naughty girl.

I wasn’t doing anything!

imageI’ve sung the praises of a certain parenting discipline book before, but I feel the need to give another shout-out to 1-2-3 Magic. I am pleased to say that I am now That Mom in a positive way, as opposed to my general disposition as That Unshowered Mom or That Mom Who Wears Sweatpants. When disciplining Vivi in public, I can make minor, nearly imperceptible corrections when I quietly say “that’s one.” Vivi almost always changes course in the way I desired without hurt feelings or any emotion exchanged between us; other moms’ heads swivel round with cartoonish wide eyes, like I’ve just invited them to a childless day at the spa, and say “WHAT did you just do?” To which I, with as little smugness as I can possibly muster, smile and say “1-2-3 Magic!”

What are your kung fu parenting techniques?

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of Teach Me Tuesday