There are handful of skills, however, that will be useful until your child is him or herself a parent and even grandparent. No lie, I've seen my own mother and father cringe and react to one or the other of my grandmothers' slightest change in facial expression. That is real power, right there. It behooves you, as a parent, then, to master these skills:
Counting to 3
It's about the first academic thing you ever learned and it can serve you well, long into the twilight of your life if you master the art and beauty of short-range counting. The power of control is within your very grasp if you will master this art. You can waylay oncoming tantrums and punching matches, or add that extra motivation to get the dishwasher unloaded, just with three, short syllables. If you are a true master, you will only ever need to get to "1." Even my adult children will heel when I start counting. Here are the keys to master this timeless art:
1. You must only use this skill when you really do mean it. If you threaten to count to three every time they burp, you have reduced the power of the Counting to marshmallow fluff: "Ya, ya, mom's counting again. Whatev's. You'd think she would have learned '4' by now."
2. They must understand what will happen when you get to 3. If "count to 4, with 5 as a definite possibility" is your answer, do not count. You have just undercut yourself, Grasshopper.
|Bwahahaha! She just said "4!"|
4. Therefore, don't throw down threats like "I'm going to tear out your eyeballs and eat them" or "I'm going to sell you to the next passing Band of Traveling Monkeys."
5. Unless you really are going to do this. If this is the case, there might be other issues at play and perhaps a little time off is in order . . .
6. You can throw down the crazy pants threat as an option as a way of conveying "I love you, I'm teasing you a bit, but you really do need to knock it off." Do not mix this with the counting, however, because then they will always thinking you're being Funny Mommy. Not always helpful.
This needs to be of the kilo-watt, death-star voltage. It needs to scream, without any sound, to any and all who get within range of the Glare that SOMEONE is going to be in serious dog doo doo if SOMEONE doesn't Stop. It. Right. Now.
Practice in the mirror. Simply raising your eyebrows will make you look surprised and little confused. Narrowing your eyes implies a challenge, which they will most certainly undertake. One raised eyebrow can convey a warning and can be a good prelude to a full Glare, but it cannot stand alone. Opening your eyes too wide makes you look slightly stunned and potentially gassy. A really good Glare combines a solid stare, widened eyes, and a serious expression, without being simply blank. Practice on your spouse, dog, or fish. Well, the fish won't give you any feedback. Nor will the cat. Cats will win any sort of glaring contest every time. If you have a neighbor kid you don't particularly like, you could practice there. It's ok if they think you're just the crazy neighbor lady. But you need your kids to take you seriously.
You will know you've got it right when your target freezes with a look of "Crap, what did I do?" even if they're completely innocent of any possible wrong-doing. You're looking for Deer in the Headlights. You want to see real fear. Trust me, you'll know it when you see it. And you will feel such a wonderful sense of success! Except for the fact that whatever your kid is doing to warrant the Glare is probably publicly horrifying in some way. So, it's a wash. At least they will STOP.
Going Off Duty
This has many names -- Time out for Mommy, Hiding From Your Kids, Going to the Bathroom . . . whatever you call it, a wise Mommy knows when to go off duty. This is NOT neglecting your responsibilities. This is properly acknowledging routine active maintenance. There was this (really pointless) story about this woman in Germany who bought a tv, turned it on and never turned it off. Two years later it burned out. I know, riveting story. But the point is this -- everything has to get turned off every now and then or it just breaks. Mommies are no different and just sleeping at night doesn't count. You need conscious down-time.
|Nooo!! Not the Conniption Fit Mommy!|
This is also patent permission to go completely berserk when your child gets up out of bed after bedtime. Have a bedtime. Make it absolute. All time after bed time is YOURS. Hoard it like a Depression Era Cat Lady. Scream, yell, cry, whatever, if they get out of bed after being tucked in, tooth-brushed, and drink-of-watered. Anything that makes certain they never want to see Conniption Fit Mommy again. Hey, a little future therapy is good for everyone, right?
Eyes In the Back of Your Head
You need to become Batman. Why? Let's think about Batman. He's a "super" hero, despite the fact he has no supernatural abilities. He has used his massive amount of cash to study and hone every possible type of martial arts to become a human fighting machine. Unfortunately, the Mommy Super Hero Kit does not include the Massive Amounts of Cash accessory pack. As an alternative, nearly all mommies come with a pre-programmed Ninja Skill deep within the Temporal Lobe. The chemicals released during the Labor and Delivery process trigger this deep innate ability. It begins to display as early as the first night after giving birth.
You know what this is -- you have FINALLY fallen asleep for an astonishing 14 minutes when your eyes pop wide open. Is the baby breathing? I can't hear any breathing?! Was that a breath? I can't tell. How long has it been since I heard the last breath? Was that a breath? You get out of bed at an astonishing speed for a woman whose body has just had a watermelon-sized parasite ripped out of it. You creep up the crib/basket/carrier and stare at your newborn's chest. You stare as though your eyes can actually force the child to take a breath. HOURS later (re: 9 seconds) you see a teeny, tiny little rise in your child's body. A breath. And now you can take one too. You drag your carcass back to bed. And approximately every 8-17 minutes, you repeat this process. All. Night. Long.
|I'm sooo sweet :D|
The important element here is to keep your kid thinking you really do have eyes in the back of your head AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. Your 16 year-old will "know" you do not actually have eyes in the back of your head. But, if you play your cards right, you can keep a small voice of doubt in their heads. Humans don't have eyes in the back of their skulls. But there was that time she caught me sneaking downstairs and she wasn't even in the room! Maybe she does . . . nah. That's stupid. But, maybe . . . oh well, I didn't really want to sneak out tonight anyway . . .
So there you are. Four skills that will help you manage that fabulous bundle of energetic insanity for which you are legally and morally responsible. Batman has nothing on you, Mommy!