12 November 2007

Under the pew

Hubby, me and the kids with my parents-in-law and my brother

Yesterday, Sunday, was kind of hit or miss with the kids. We went out to lunch because we had some problems with one of our radiators (we think we had an air lock). So, hubby drained the system and wanted to let it sit awhile before refilling and we all went out to Famous Dave's. As it was getting close to nap time for both kids, I was concerned about taking them out in public. Bad things happen close to nap time.

But, our late lunch went really well. Kids were well behaved and, for the most part, ate their meals. The little boy at the table next to us was a different story. He was running around the restaurant, screaming, climbing on tables, not sitting down to eat, etc. Just plain ol' bad behavior. The day I let my kids do this is the day I have completely lost my mind. The day I try to rationalize with toddlers as the other mother did by saying, "Can't you see how nicely those other children are sitting and eating their dinner?" is the day I will allow myself to be committed.

The thing with kids though, I have come to discover, is it is harder than it looks. Way harder. A gazillion times harder. I'm pretty strict, but this parenting thing is all new to me. My parents had my brother and me later in life. I wasn't ever around children. I grew up with pretty strict controls on my behavior and figured if I ever had kids, I would do the same. Then God decided it would be funny to see just how well I could do with the idealized notions I had.

Well, I think my performance is somewhere in the middle. There are huge families at Mass whose children are junior saints. Even the littlest ones stand still, don't talk, don't climb under or over the pews and never incite their siblings. Then there are others whose children are always taken out and spend Mass standing in the back. There are others whose children should be taken out but the parents don't seem to notice.

Thank you to all the people who compliment us when the kids are good. I've had many people compliment us when we are out to dinner, but the occasions are less and less frequent. As the kids have gotten older, they have gotten a little less well-behaved. They are still expected to stay in their seats and eat their dinner, however. Crying and whining doesn't get them what they want. It makes me want to hide in my coat, but it doesn't get them what they want. Not giving in is supposed to curtail this type of behavior...right? Once on the way to our cabin we stopped at Culver's. My daughter started screaming and screaming. An older gentleman turned around and gave us "The Glare." Darling daughter was already in the process of being taken out by my husband. The older man was just finishing his dinner and left just as my husband was standing outside with my daughter. I knew he was going to say something. However, the man complimented us on disciplining our children. He said far too many parents just let their kids cause a scene and never take corrective action.

It was nice to have someone notice we were trying our best, but this man must not have children. They are far harder to corral than I ever imagined.

In Mass, my kids aren't allowed to stand on the pew or put their feet on the pew. Since my son is the oldest, I was harder on him. He had to stand and face forward, no sitting on the kneeler, no goofing around. Then I saw some other really good parents at Mass letting their youngest ones move around a bit and I thought I was being a bit too hard. My kids have to be quiet and not monkeys, but they can move around a little. My son is old enough to know how to behave, but my two year-old can sit on the kneeler as long as she is quiet. She's a handful, that one. Screams and cries much more than my son.

One time in Mass I thought my son wasn't particularly well-behaved. That means he has some privileges taken away and other assorted penalties. That was until the older lady behind us made a point to stop us after Mass and let us know how well-behaved our children were. Needless to say, she saved my son from any loss of privileges that day. I had to stop and reassess if my standards were too high or if she was just used to children who were worse-behaved and mine were stellar by comparison.

Rarely has my decision-making been influenced by the opinions of others. I don't think you could say I'm a lemming, but what this woman said made me stop and pause: is it me or society?

Listening to Dr. Ray on Relevant Radio makes me realize and reassures me that it's good to have rules, order and discipline. In my less-than-perfect world, things aren't as cut-and-dried as that. Kids will be kids, which is OK as long as they aren't driving me and those around me completely batty.

In the four years I have been a mom, I have learned two things: there is no manual and God has a sense of humor. Oh, and I've also learned that the same could be said of marriage.

My brother e-mailed me yesterday to let me know he is going to be here this morning. So, blogging may be hit-or-miss during the week.


Lisa said...

Excellent post! Yes, parenting is a tough job, but worth it. Keep up the good work!
We get compliments on our kids a lot too- I am a little uneasy with this because while I appreciate the compliment, I feel I'm just doing my job as a parent. Our kids are not robots at mass and can move, but we don't allow them to run/dance in the church aisles or bring a breakfast buffet in the pew. I do not get what's going on-I see kids who hit their parents, disregard property and in general don't respect others. I live in a highly educated, somewhat affluent twin cities suburb, and I see this-the lack of parenting, not the kids themselves is to blame.
I guess in today's society when other people see well-mannered children or parents who do discipline, it stands out so much that they feel the need to compliment.
I'm new to your blog-love it!

swissmiss said...

Welcome to my blog, Lisa!

It is weird to have people compliment your kids because I do think I'm just doing my job, but relative to some behavior I've witnessed, I think people are relieved to find kids that can go to a restaurant and not make a scene (some of the time anyway!).

Now if I could just get my daughter to eat something other than cheese, potatoes and bread, life would be so much better.

Ray from MN said...

Wonderful pic of the "Swiss Family Monica."

Ma Beck said...

It is so hard.
So, so hard.

I'm sure you're doing a fine job.
Hey, your daughter is a carb fan - if that's a crime, lock me up.

swissmiss said...

Funny thing is, that really could be a family photo ;}

Some days I really think God just sits around and laughs about the dumb things parents do in response to their children :)

My son eats anything and has a very good appetite. Doc said my daughter is more "normal" since she's like other kids who love carbs, or so I'm told. She takes after her mom :)

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Hey, how did you get that photo of my family?