“Turn that music off. N-O—Off!” my son, 4, said as he kicked the car seat in front of him violently several times.
Despite his tantrum, I had to keep from laughing. I also wanted to tell my wife, “He gets his spelling from you.” However, for a change I acted like a good parent. Sort of.
“It’s O-F-F, off.”
My wife looked at me with disdain.
“And stop the kicking and screaming. Santa is watching. If you want something, ask nicely.”
Granted, listening to Lady Gaga on a 2-hour car ride makes me want to kick a chair, too. However, how do you get the kids to behave? Nowadays, it seems blackmail and threats are the only options.
If we yell at the kids, then we have to deal with my mother-in-law.
“I don’t know why you’re always yelling. I never yelled when you were kids,” my mother-in-law tells my wife while raising her voice.
Then my mother lectures me as to how lucky we are.
“These kids are so good. You don’t know what bad kids are.”
“Mom, CJ’s choking Lexy.”
“He’s just hugging her.”
God forbid we hit them we’d never hear the end of it. Ironically, the staunchest critics of hitting are the grandparents who spanked, hit with belts, and employed the occasional wooden spoon. Then, as if running for office, they deny it ever happened.
“I never hit your mother with a wooden spoon,” my grandmother, God rest her soul, once told me ever so sweetly.
That’s because the wooden spoon was already broken on one of the other kids’ rear ends, according to my mother.
Putting Grandma’s hypocrisy aside, the kids probably deserved it. Lord knows I deserved a smack or two (or ten) when I was a child.
Unfortunately, these days parents are armed weakly with timeouts or the infamous line, “If you don’t stop that by the time I count to three…”
My daughter, all of seven, has already figured out there’s no tangible punishment waiting for her after the count of three.
“Or what, Daddy?”
“Three and a half, three and three quarters…..that’s it, I’m telling your Mother.”
If Mom isn’t home, threats are the only viable option.
“You’re not going to see your cousins this weekend.”
“And Christmas is cancelled.”
I dropped the c-bomb. Then the uncontrollable bawling begins.
Two hours later, my daughter, still choked up, tells my wife how Daddy told her Christmas is cancelled.
My wife comforts her. “Christmas is not cancelled, baby.”
Later that night my wife scolds me. “She’s 7. What is wrong with you?”
A loaded question.
“You couldn’t have just reminded her Santa is watching or she’s not going to see her cousins. You can’t cancel Christmas. Now, I have no threats left.”
Ironically, I’m the one in trouble despite the fact that the kids tried to kill each other and defied me. I fully expected to be put in a timeout or hit with a wooden spoon.
However, the kids had other ideas.
“You’re getting nothing for Christmas, Daddy.” Lexy said.
“No presents for you,” CJ added.
“No, N-O.” I said.
Copyright © 2009, Brad Manzo