Guest Story: Stupid Mama

I'm pleased to present a guest post today from Diana. Diana is the mother of two young sons. The younger son has had significant medical issues that required a lot of hands-on attention, resulting in the older son being allowed far too much screen time. Since he has a strong gene for general awesomeness, it doesn't seem to have effected him too adversely.

P.S. Diana secretly (not anymore, thanks, internet!!) thinks she's hilarious, and I'd have to agree with her. It's a pity she doesn't write more often ;).

Does anyone else spend half of their parenting time wondering whether or not they are succeeding at parenting? I keep an informal tally to try to keep track of how I am doing. There are things that I count as a parenting win, like the fact that I have managed to sneak pureed kale, spinach, or swiss chard into our breakfast smoothies nearly every day for the past six months.

Then there are the times that I know I am not succeeding. For instance, I never thought I would hear myself say any of the following (all of which I'm afraid I have):
1. "If you eat dirt one more time then we are going inside. Fine! We're going inside!"

2. "You are mad right now. But I don't think you really like Satan."

3. (While potty training, and trying to minimize the aftermath clean up) "A penis is a tool, not a toy."

4. "No, you may not have more broccoli until you have at least one bite of your cheeseburger."

5. "Hey! We do not fight with knives!"
Then there are the in between times. For instance, is it a parental win or fail when my four year old, hearing me shout, "YOU ARE A CRAZY PERSON!!" at the woman on my new exercise video, responds calmly, "Mama, don't be mean. She is just trying to make your body be more healthy."

Or how about when you take the same four year old to his father's "Take your child to work day" celebration and the little guy confidently introduces himself to his father's colleagues and then proceeds to tell them all about his favorite World of Warcraft character?

We let him log on to his uncle's account once a week, at which time he creates several new characters, participates in a few non-humanoid-murdering quests, and spends a lot of gold buying in-game pets. So it isn't as bad as it sounds. But still...

I'm also unclear as to where to place the following on the parental win--fail spectrum. My son taught himself to read several months ago, thanks mostly to my insistence that he spend time on "educational" websites before he played on the NON-educational websites. But while he has very well-developed wrist and index finger muscles (read: computer mouse-using muscles) his other fine motor skills were lagging. Here is a sample of his handwriting:

In a fit of good intention, I created a variety of worksheets for him that would allow him to develop his fine-motor skills by tracing letters and numbers, drawing dots and symbols, and other educational fare. I set up a study space with a child-sized table and chair, and told my son he had to "earn screen time by completing worksheets."

I was so proud of myself. He was proud, too, when he brought his first completed worksheet to me. He enjoyed the second and third worksheet as well. The fourth day, the novelty began wearing off. By the fifth day, insistence was required, followed by false cheerfulness, wheedling, begging, and threatening (World of Warcraft screen time may have come into play.)

A little over a week into the program, it was beginning to be more difficult to get the worksheets completed, but I stood my ground. No screen time unless it is earned by doing chores, exercise, or worksheets!

At last it seemed I had convinced him, or converted him, or broken his spirit, or something. He took the worksheet one morning with a minimum of fuss. He sat at his table and worked quietly. Then he proudly brought the finished results to me.

Except instead of completing the worksheet, which this time was tracing dots to form the numbers and words for "Counting by Tens!" he had turned the worksheet over and had written this:

I'd call it an epic fail, except as you can see, his penmanship is remarkably improved.