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Home » Featured, Sunshine Mama Drama

Discipline…Directions, Please!

Submitted by on November 17, 2010 – 6:00 AM2 Comments
Discipline…Directions, Please!

‘I would have let him get up.’

‘Yeah, well, he’s not.’

It’s a top secret admission to my husband at ten-thirty pm. We are lying in bed, lights out, and we are trying to quietly converse over the wailing of our two year old, who, from the next bedroom over, is loudly objecting to the fact that, despite it is two hours past his bed time,  Mommy and Daddy are refusing to let him get up and watch ‘Diego Dinosaurs’. How dare us.

Daddy just got back from his bedroom, and reminded him that we love him, but it is bedtime for both him and Diego.

My husband is not giving in. I don’t want to give in either, but I’m tired, and I’m tired of listening to him cry. (It’s been an hour, at least!)  Thank God, in times like this, I can count on him to stand the ground for both of us. Not to say the role doesn’t get reversed.  A fresh, rested (or even a mid-afternoon, slightly harried) Mommy can easily handle the tantrum that ensues when a toddler realizes fruit snacks are not a breakfast food, he may not live at grammas, or that he may spend naptime crying, but he will still be in his bed, lights out, from 1-3pm. I’m pretty darn good at handling the public meltdowns, as well.

Let us rewind.

I met my husband ten years ago, when I was 16, and even then, we had late night discussions about what our children would and would not do, or be.  We may not always agree on things. Actually, we often don’t agree on much at all. However, even before our son was thought of, we agreed that, no matter what, our children would be respectful, disciplined, and all around decent, pleasant little people to be around.

I got married at 21. I wanted kids. At 23, eh, that’s debatable. But, turns out, women in my family so much as think about getting pregnant, and, well…

I found out I was pregnant nine days after my husband returned to Iraq for the second half of his tour. To say that I was bitter is an understatement. I was tired, alone, and not entirely sure I wanted to be knocked up at this particular time in my life.

After 38 hellish weeks of pregnancy (complications love me!), and 18 hours of (insert profanities here!) labor, my perfect little 8.5lb R&R baby was placed on my chest. My first words? ‘Get him off of me. I can’t breathe.’ Really.  Finally, after the two long weeks it took for me to bond with this little ‘thing’, I had it ALL figured out.  I was going to breastfeed (because that’s best!), I was going to do baby massage while he watched Baby Einstein and read every book I could get my hands on and he was going to be perfect  and potty trained at age two and go to private school… you get my drift.

I HATED breastfeeding.  I loathed it. My baby loathed it. I wanted my life back. I think Noah was 4 weeks old when my husband came home to both mommy and baby completely melting down.  I didn’t want to DO this anymore! My fabulous husband, whose opinion I value more than anyone on this earth, responded, ‘So, don’t.’ Hallelujah! I let those babies dry up and that was that. I have no regrets. Breast milk is probably ‘best’, but a crazy mother and wife can’t be good for anybody!

I tell you this just to put out there that I am far from the perfect mommy. I don’t want my negativity toward people that have zero control of a 35lb child to give the impression I’m on a soapbox. My husband and I cannot STAND children who run rampant under their parent’s noses. To hear a ten-year old talk back to her mother and the mother to say ‘well, she doesn’t listen to me’ just infuriates me inside! We could be in a restaurant, BK (before kid), and there would be a 5 year old running circles around our table, and one of us would mention that we couldn’t wait to have our own kids, so we could teach them that you do not EVER act like that.

Guess what? It’s harder than I thought! Back to present.

Establishing discipline in your child’s life it a lot of work! It is a long, hard road, and we are just beginning! I honestly contribute pure parental laziness to the reason that there are toddlers out there running households! My child’s personality is an obstacle in itself! It’s not entirely fortunate that my son is his mother’s child. He’s stubborn, independent, anal retentive, and too smart for his own good. I love him more than life but he drives me nuts! I am so thankful that my husband and I are a pretty awesome parenting team! When he senses I’m about to lose it, he steps in, and vice versa. We have certain cardinal rules, never to be broken. This is dinner. If you don’t want it, your tummy is going to be hungry tonight. Mommy doesn’t cook to order. No sleeping in mommy and daddy’s bed; No toys in the store; what is and is not acceptable behavior in a restaurant. Most importantly, we never, ever, allow ourselves to be played against each other. My son tries it constantly, and we shut him down every single time. No exceptions. I don’t always agree with what my husband says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to, and he doesn’t always agree with me, but Noah is clueless to that.  To him, we are one entity, and daddy’s word and mommy’s word are one in the same. There is plenty of time for discussion of a difference of opinions later.

Family is another obstacle we face. Of course, our family is supportive and they dote on the fact that ‘little Noah is so well behaved’.  Unfortunately, they often unintentionally hinder his progress. Every single day, we fight the battle that rules do not disappear when we walk into grammas house. When Noah was around a year old, he removed every cassette tape from my in-laws media cabinet. Of course, this was immediately followed by the famous grandma words, ‘Oh, that’s okay!’ It is NOT okay! They proceeded to be horrified when ‘their precious grandbaby’ was scolded in front of all, and forced to pick up and replace every single tape. Another example is when we are guests in someone else’s home. Do you touch our pictures? Do you touch Mommy’s knick knacks? Absolutely not! So you don’t touch these, either. I have friends who ‘baby proof’ their home, and remove every removable object in their living spaces; up to and including the coffee table! These are the same friends who can’t understand why their children jump at the idea of trashing someone else’s belongings! Welcome to the common sense portion of the show!

We try every day to instill respect and values into our little person, so that someday, we can be responsible for a respectful and morally sound big person. It is NOT easy. I lapse. One evening, my ‘sweet baby’ was such a nightmare that I literally locked myself in our walk-in closet and cried, while he threw himself against the door and screamed for me. Is that my proudest parenting moment? Of course not.  However, I did hear somewhere once that shaking babies is wrong, so I made the responsible decision remove myself from the situation.

We give time-outs. We use our words. I raise my voice if the situation warrants it, especially if there is an imminent a safety issue. Is it right or wrong? I don’t know. My son is two, sleeps with a binky, is not potty trained, and watches an hour of non-educational television before bed every night. Twice, during crib to big-boy bed transition, I slept on his floor. He says ‘please’, ‘thank-you’, ‘no thank-you’, and ‘bless you’, every time, without coaching.  He puts his clothes in the hamper, throws out his garbage, picks up his toys, and makes a first class toddler attempt at cleaning up his messes. He knows that a ‘talk’ and ‘giving an apology’ following his punishment are just as important as the consequence for bad behavior, and he expects both. He is, for the most part, a good little boy. He has melt downs, and so do I.

This morning, at 7:15am, he had an insane tantrum, and proceeded to spend the last 25 minutes before we left for preschool sitting in time-out. He wouldn’t even look at me when I dropped him off. I hated for him to start his day off upset, however, he upset me. As much as it made my heart hurt to have him angry at me, it would have been much, much worse to lead him to believe there are not consequences for his bad behavior. If I’m lucky, he will remember the morning he had to sacrifice his juice and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse due do his bad behavior, and think twice next time. If that’s the case, as a parent I will take comfort in knowing that I am, at the very least, on the right road.


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  • Dear Tiffany,

    There are so many things that I can relate to in this blog! I love your bk (before kids) termanology. I had all of the same expectations of my unborn children that you did. In my mind, I had it all figured out.

    I don’t know if anything can prepare you for the joys and challenges that come along with parenthood. I am however quite certain that my bk, know it all, mentality gave me the strength I needed to make it out of the terrible twos (and threes) alive and still in control of my little people.

    I wish it were more often I heard a get it done, matter of fact, mentality like yours!! It’s so refreshing!! I truly admire your determination to stick to your guns.

    I need to throw out some kudos to Adam too. Awesome team work…you guys rock!

    I think Noah will make a better choice next time. If not, I’m sure his Mama is going to put him right back in his place. Someday, he will be a better man because of it. The world needs more Mamas like you, Tiffany!! 🙂

    Thanks again for the great read!!


  • Shirley McCluskey says:

    Great article Tiffany. Noah is really getting big.