The Mommy Job

I was reading over at DaMomma about setting boundaries and about how that makes for happier children, and I had to put my own two cents in as I completely agree, but boy is it hard work! Tom and I have been working very hard with Phoebe ever since she was little at providing boundaries and a common parenting front. This is one of the reasons I'm very proud of our parenting skills, and think we should have more to practice on!

I'll never forget the first time Phoebe tried to play both parents. She's a very smart kid when it comes to getting what she wants. She must've been about 14-16 months at the time. We came home from work/day care and she was sitting in her high chair playing while I made dinner. Tom hadn't come home yet. She asked me for a cookie and I said, "No, not before dinner." Tom came home from work about 10 minutes later, he picked her up and they kissed and said hi to each other. She immediately asked, "Cookie?" This was the first time Tom got to use the line, "What did your mother say?" Needless to say, there were no cookies eaten before dinner.

Cut to today, Phoebe's been grounded from TV priviledges several times recently. This is the most effective form of punishment for her at this time. Since she can remember what she did wrong, it makes her think the next time she wants to watch TV why she can't, and why she won't do that again. Recent TV restrictions have been for not being at the friend's house she told us she was at, leaving our yard when it was dusk and we told her to stay in our yard until dinner, and the latest that just finished acting spoiled, not doing what we asked her to do many times over and completely forgetting her manners the two whole days before Easter Sunday.

This week was tough. I was playing Single Parent while Tom was out of town on business. He came home last night, but left again this morning to go to school at Villanova until Saturday evening. Keeping the boundaries alive while Daddy is away is very important, but very tiring. Example from last night: I'm making dinner. Phoebe's playing with her friend S on the swings. Her friend M came home from Disney this week and somehow asked Phoebe if she wanted to go to get ice cream with her dad. Phoebe comes and asks me and I said, "No. You can't have ice cream. We didn't eat dinner yet." Huge crying ensues and she storms off to M's house to tell her. It broke my heart, but I wanted us to eat dinner soon and I don't want her eating too much junk food. Anyway, I talked to her more about this at dinner, as I thought M was having ice cream at her house, not going out. When she told me M was going out to get ice cream with her dad, I was really confused. I told Phoebe I didn't know them well enough yet to let her get in a car with them and go somewhere, and I also thought it wasn't nice that they didn't ask S to go too, because Phoebe was playing with S and not M. She did admit that S didn't want her to go off with M, so hopefully this was a good friend manners lesson for her too, but Phoebe is always swayed by food.

The other thing is that when the boundaries are enforced just like DaMomma says, I get a lot of reinforcement from Phoebe too. I get a lot of "I love you Mommy"s and "You're the best Mommy ever!"

Aside from my rantings of enforcing boundaries, I wanted to note that Phoebe and I discussed economics last night after I said I wanted to cry after filling up my gas tank. When we picked Tom up from the train station he was very impressed by our little girl knowing, "When a lot of people want something and there is not enough, the price goes up!" Do you think I should teach a preschool Econ class? We talked about other theories of economics too about how prices will go down when everyone's spending habits change and they don't want to pay that much for a product anymore. What a smart kid!


She is a smart kid - you're doing a great job with her.

Your story about the cookie reminded me of the first time I realized my daughter had learned the fine art of manipulation. She was in kindergarden and didn't want to get milk at school. I told her that I she needed to have milk with her snack and I continued sending milk money to school - she never said a word about it again. When I went to parent teachers conferences - everything was really positive and I was getting ready to leave and the teacher said oh yeah, I was going to tell you that you don't need to send milk money since your daughter can't drink it. She can't drink it I said? She's allergic to milk the teacher replied and looked at me like I was a complete idiot. That little snot told the teacher she was allergic to milk so she wouldn't have to drink it. lol

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