I have a crush on David Sedaris. Yes, I know he’s gay, and I’m married, he’s in his 50s, I’m super young and vibrant. It’s not a romantic crush of course. Just that feeling that you want to surround yourself with this person, learn all of their secrets, and maybe absorb some of their talent and greatness just by being in their presence and maybe you just want to rub your face on their blue corduroy blazer.
I wonder what it’s like to be the someone that others always want to learn something from and rub their faces on various clothing items.
Seeing David live was an impulsive decision for me. I found out about it a few days before and contacted my friend Missy, a fellow writer and humor-lover. If she couldn’t go, I contemplated going by myself; that’s how badly I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to see one of my favorite writers in person.
I could tell you all about how great it was to hear David read some of his essays on stage, how truly funny he is, how endearing he was when he spoke casually in between readings, and how, even though I’ve read a lot of his work, his crassness caught me off guard time and time again. I could tell you about the Sasquatch sitting in front of me who kept leaning forward, then back, then side to side, like he had a bad case of hemorrhoids, making it so I was playing peek-a-boo with the stage.
But what really stuck with me throughout the evening getting to see a little about how David ticks as a writer. He didn’t talk a lot about writing itself, but it’s safe to say that for someone like him, writing is a way of life, a saving grace. Most of all, it’s a habit.
David shared some excerpts from his diaries, and afterwards, when he took some questions, someone asked him what he writes in his diary that he wouldn’t want people to read. Maybe they were expecting a juicy horrible secret.
“Well,” he said. “I write a lot of boring stuff, really.”
That’s right. David Sedaris, master satirist, writes everyday, boring entries into his journal, just like you and me. Specifically, when traveling, he gets up every morning and writes a review of his hotel room. You heard it here, folks.
David Sedaris is an observer. Most of the best writers and artists I know are. It’s whether or not we harness that observation and channel it that decides the fate of our creativity.
The thing is, when someone like David is up on stage in front of an audience that has paid good money to hear him read his own words, it’s normal to think that every day they wake up and just fart brilliance. Clearly their writing process consists of sitting down at their computer in a nice, quiet house (in the English countryside, no less), opening up their computer and typing. That’s it! The words just flow. They don’t self edit. They don’t get discouraged, because everything coming from their fingertips is amazing! Funny! A compelling weaving of life and life lesson.
Are we really all that insecure about out own abilities that we put someone successful up on a pedestal of unattainable brilliance? I’m not saying that all of us – or any of us, for that matter – will ever be “the next David Sedaris,” but it doesn’t mean we are bad writers. Maybe some of us aren’t practicing our craft enough. Maybe we’re comparing ourselves to someone else. Maybe we’re allowing ourselves to get discouraged before we even try.
On stage David said that when he’s on tour, he likes to promote books of other writers he admires. He brought out Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays about her commitments to writing, family, friends, her husband. “Ugh, she’s the bomb,” Missy whispered under her breath, as he read an excerpt from Patchett’s essay “The Getaway Car,” which David himself described as the best essay for a writer to read.
“You can either spend 4, 6, or 8 years going to school to learn to be a writer,” he said, “Or you can read this essay.”
And then he said, “I just really wish I could write like her.”
To hear someone as revered in the writing world as David Sedaris say that he wishes he could write as beautiful as someone else was not as much a shock as an affirmation. We all do this. And it’s okay. I will never write like David Sedaris, because I am not David Sedaris. But I can let David Sedaris, and others, inspire me with his wit and observations and his mastery of creating a story.
• • • • •
After the reading Missy and I stood in line to get our books signed. We were having a riveting conversation with each other about a mutual acquaintance’s yoga pant-clad derriere when we approached the table.
“So what were you guys talking about while you were waiting?” David asked.
“Yoga pants,” I offered up, sadly aware of how typical suburban mom I sounded.
“Butts,” Missy interjected, always the Peppa to my Salt. “Specifically our butts in yoga pants.”
“Oh! And how does your butt look in your yoga pants?” he asked me as I handed him my book.
And as I gave an idiotic explanation of how it depends on whether or not I’m running, (“like not at the moment, but you know, in training HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”) David is drawing this in my book with his arsenal of Sharpies:
And then he draw this:
And you know, I can’t even be offended. Because how many other people can honestly say that David Sedaris illustrated his own book with a drawing of their butt?
Last Wednesday was a “challenging” day for Zoe at preschool. I believe her teacher said (and I’m totally fine with this) she was “a little toot” that day, which is really her nice way of saying she was a little shit.
I know this Zoe. This is the Zoe who is feeling too big for her britches and too cool for school. I don’t like parenting this Zoe. It’s hard, and to date she’s been my easiest child. Unfortunately it seems like I’ve taken her ease for granted.
Often her attitude is related to her being tired or hungry. On that day in particular, she fell asleep in the car, 4 minutes into the 10 minute drive home. Kids and car naps: making grownups’ necks hurt by association since forever.
This new school year has kind of shattered all of Zoe’s expectations from the previous year. She expected to walk into school to a class full of friends and a teacher who doted on her. But her friends were all separated into different classes, and she didn’t understand why she didn’t have the same teacher. Miss M and been Rachel’s teacher, then Zoe’s first teacher. It just made sense: Miss M was THE teacher.
When her new teacher – also Miss M – was going through her roster, everyone sighed wistfully and said, “Oh, Zoe T. She’s a special girl. You’ll love her.”
I like Miss M2 a lot. She’s a great teacher, she’s fun, and she’s is doing fantastic work with the kids to get them ready for kindergarten. She’s just different from Miss M1, less doting and more matter-of-fact and tell-it-like-it-is. Some kids respond really well to that. Zoe responds well to feeling like a princess.
The thing is, Zoe needs to feel like she’s special. I can’t think of any other way to say it. I’m not saying she should get special treatment, but she flourishes when she’s given a little more attention. The fate of the younger sibling of identical twin sisters is either make yourself seen or you fade into the background. Zoe prefers to make herself seen with a charming, gregarious personality that hardly anyone can resist, but also hanging back when she senses her sisters are being too overwhelming. She practically got away with murder for way too long, and we had to reign her back in with some discipline after we royally kicked ourselves in the behinds for being so enchanted with her. She’s tricksy, that one.
“I like you,” she said, a few weeks into the school year, “But I don’t like you as much as Miss M1.” She was just being honest. She’s 4. Miss M2 wasn’t offended; this isn’t her first rodeo. She thanked her for her honesty and went on with her day.
She’s acting out…spitefully. Oh, you want me to put this book away? Sure. Right after I take my time flipping through every. single. page. Don’t spin around on the carpet, you say? Fine. I’ll wait until you look away, but then my ass is spinning.
Honestly, I think I’d rather she was having trouble with her “listening ears” as opposed to vengeful disobedience.
I can see why she’s having a tough time. She stood out in her first class. Not so much here. So she’s trying to make herself seen, even if it’s with less-than-desireable behaviors. It makes her look like she’s spoiled and maybe she is just a little bit. She’s my baby, and I can’t resist her snuggles and sweet kisses.
But she’s also helpful and funny and wicked smart. These little dips in behavior make up only a small percentage of what we see at home, so it makes me sad that they make up so much of her day at school, that her teachers may not be seeing her potential to be a really fantastic kid when she’s given the right motivation.
This past weekend was a weekend. Like many weekends, I had some thoughts. I share these thoughts with you now.
• If a Toothless toy randomly goes missing, will its owner ever miss it? YES. Yes she will. Because she will watch the movie on a Sunday, and all you will hear for the rest of the afternoon will be “Where’s my Toothless? Did you find my Toothless? I guess I’ll have to get another one. Did you find it? Now did you find it? This house is always losing things. I hate this house! Waaaaaahhhhh!!! Did you find it yet? What about now?” Seriously, this house is not that big, and to make it worse, I actually cleaned this weekend, so, you know, everything in its place and all. Except for that damn dragon.
• I’m not going to eat any more Halloween candy. Today. Until after lunch. Okay, I think I can hold off another 5 minutes.
• Give me all of the Kit Kats.
• Why did I eat so many Kit Kats.
• I wonder when it’s going to cool off around here….NOW. NOW is the time it’s going to cool off. My children haven’t worn anything past the knees since April, and now it’s gone from 85 to 55 degrees overnight (like literally, not a euphemism), and we have a 9am soccer game, and they are going to FREEZE their little Texan butts off.
• Who knew it was possible to miss practically an entire soccer game taking two 6-year-olds to the bathroom? Well, now I know that. Sorry, Zoe.
• NO, I have not found it yet. Stop asking.
• Are those planning on doing NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo completely insane? YES. Yes they are.
• Honestly, I’m a little jealous of the NaNo and NaBlo people. They’re working towards a goal! I’ll have to remember that long about November 23rd, when they all want their laptops to die a fiery, miserable death.
• This time change thing? Not so bad with two 6-year-olds and a 4-year-old (loads better than the sufferings of two years ago). Sunday I did some laundry, went to the grocery store, made lunch, took one of the girls clothes shopping (see above about no pants), whittled a wooden bird, cleaned my desk, did the dishes, completed a 500 piece puzzle, wrote the next Great American Novel, and WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S ONLY 2 O’CLOCK? Good God, this is the longest day of my life.
• I’m tired.
One. From 4th grade up to my late teens, I was a dog show kid. My parents bred and showed Miniature Schnauzers as a hobby, so just about every one of my weekends in my formative years was spent traveling to podunk Texas towns for shows. The Christopher Guest movie Best in Show satirized the larger, national events, but most of the shows we went to were held in small towns, at muddy fair and rodeo grounds, where we had to set up our grooming stations in barns. Larger cities like Dallas and San Antonio allowed for more civilized convention centers with actual floors.
Things you should know about dog shows: White dogs are covered in chalk, black dogs are dyed blacker, and the scene is probably more political than Washington. The smell of hairspray mixed with dirt and cigarette smoke is permanently engrained in my memory.
I did a few years of junior showmanship, but I spent most of my time reading, doing homework, wandering around bored out of my everloving mind, and crushing on a fellow dog show boy. And eating lots and lots of concession stand food.
Two. When I was in kindergarten, I tried to change my name to Elizabeth. My own name was full of random letters that made no sense together, and I thought Elizabeth was the most beautiful name in the world. When I asked my mom how to spell it, she wrote it on a pale blue Post-It note for me in her impeccable handwriting – E L I Z A B E T H. I took that Post-It directly to my teacher and informed her I had changed my name.
Unfortunately, since I had given her my cheat sheet, I had no idea how to actually spell ELIZABETH anymore. So I just wrote a jumbled mess of letters at the top of my worksheets: probably an E, maybe an L, and a Z. There was definitely a Z. I should have practiced more! Who changes their name and doesn’t learn how to spell it? A 5-year-old, that’s who.
Later in the day Miss Barrow, my kindergarten teacher, crouched next to me at my table and said, “I’m going to need you to write Leigh Ann on your papers from now on, okay?” And that was the end of my run as Elizabeth. It was good while it lasted. I think. I don’t think I really got any satisfaction from it since I couldn’t even write it.
Three. As a child and teen (and an athlete), I had kind of a love affair with the emergency room. I made 11 visits for various injuries including (but not limited to):
- chipping my ankle bone when I slipped off a step (1st of 3 times on crutches)
- splitting my head open on a diving board while back flipping (1st of 2 times with stitches)
- Spraining my ankle twice (2nd & 3rd times on crutches)
- Splitting my head open again in college (staples!). Beer, piggy-back rides, and metal hair clips do NOT mix.
- Splitting my pinkie finger open (2nd time with stitches). This one’s a story. I used to play fast-pitch softball. Coach gave me the signal to bunt, which as a lefty, I did often. I was thrown out at first base, but as I walked back to the dugout, my finger was throbbing. I blamed it on bat vibrations in the cold November weather, until I looked down and saw that my entire hand was covered in blood. Apparently the ball was inside and hit the bat exactly on my pinkie, causing it to burst open from the pressure of the ball. It didn’t explode or anything, but the more it swelled up, the wider the split became, and there was gross finger insides starting to stick out. Six stitches. I still have a scar.
I used to be able to recall all of them, but my memory fails me now. Best part is I have NEVER broken a bone.
Four. I have never been stung by a wasp or a bee or anything more harmful than a mosquito, and I am TERRIFIED of them. Like “sacrifice the children and run for the hills” terrified. Once as we walked from our front door to the car, a wasp dive bombed me, grazing my neck. I took off down the yard, leaving my poor children standing there on the front walk. MOTY. But that shit hurt!
A few weeks ago I was chatting with my neighbor when a yellow jacket (hornet? YOU BUGS ALL LOOK THE SAME TO ME) landed on my leg. MY LEG. I completely froze, and my neighbor was all, “Um, you have one on your leg.” And all I could muster was, “Getitoffgetitoffgetitoffgetitoff!” until he flicked it off for me. We’re very close in this neighborhood, flicking bugs off each other’s legs and all.
Five. I went to high school with that guy who was in Argo and Gone Girl. No, not Ben Affleck. This guy.
And by “went to high school with him” I mean we he was a year or 2 ahead of me, and we had no interaction whatsoever. I don’t think I ever would have placed him. I only remember seeing his name on the cast listing for Argo, and thinking, Scoot McNairy….Scoot McNairy….where do I know that name from? Then I saw where he was from, and it clicked. Back then he went by Scooter. And now he’s popping up in practically every movie I watch, so I can say, “Hey! I [insert finger quotes] went to high school [end finger quotes] with that guy!”
So….who do I want to see write up 5 random facts about themselves? Let’s see…
Corrin from Oh Hey, What’s Up?
Kari from A Grace-Full Life
Andrea from About 100%
Angela from Jumping With My Fingers Crossed
Amy from Banana Wheels
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I share my favorite things to stream online.
Here’s a little known fact about me: I am a huge documentary nerd. HUGE. A well-made learnin’ film is one of my favorite ways to spend some of my coveted free time, and it’s one of the only things that makes folding endless loads of laundry tolerable.
I always head for the Social & Cultural sub-genre in Netflix, and often could spend more time browsing than I would actually watching the thing. But the deal is that I don’t have to commit. If I don’t like what I’m watching (it’s happened!), I can turn it off and look for something else.
I recently tried to read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, after hearing nothing but good things about it. But I just could not get through that book. I’m sure the ideas are great, but it was a little Type A for me. Having kids has destroyed every shred of Type A I ever had.
So when I admitted to giving it up, a friend recommended Happy, a documentary that “takes viewers on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy.” And I’ll give you a hint: it’s not more money or more things or even a promotion. In the end, Happy didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know, but it did serve as a good reminder that those things? They’re just things.
Similar to Happy, Tiny: A Story About Living Small explores the ideas behind what truly makes us happy, and in most cases, people find their greatest happiness from meaningful experiences, not more stuff. Tiny takes the story of a couple who decides to build a tiny house and intersperses it with interviews from other tiny house dwellers, exploring the tiny movement and creating a larger conversation about the shift in American values away from “bigger is better.”
Will I never live in a tiny house? Probably not as long as I have children at home. But did it give me pause and make me think more about my own space (our house is about 1600 sq ft) and how I can create a good life here instead of thinking I need something more? Most definitely.
One of my favorite things when watching animated movies is trying to figure out which actors are providing the voices for the characters. I Know That Voice goes deeper into the voice actor community, where you’ll find actors – and they ARE actors – who make their livings solely off the sound of their voice. Sure, you’ll recognize some faces like Hank Azaria, Diedrich Bader, and Seth Greene, and the documentary is produced by John DiMaggio, most famously known as Bender from Futurama. But I was amazed at the range of voices each of the actors portrays. Also seeing that Tara Strong, the woman who voices Twilight Sparkle also voiced Bubbles the Power Puff Girl? Blew my MIND.
The other night I was home and doing some work that was mindless enough that I could watch TV at the same time. I knew there were a ton of great shows on Netflix, but I had no idea what to watch. I get overwhelmed with too many choices, and kind of shut down like a baby. So I posed the question to the GiaB Facebook page:
It was a great list in the comments, but the majority of the answers definitely pointed to Sherlock. And while I’m not one to go gaga over Benedict Cumberbach, I do love me some Martin Freeman, so there you go.
Watson. Unfortunately, I have been a little too distracted by the work I am doing, and haven’t been able to give it my full attention, which is a shame, because it really is a masterful show.
So I guess I’ll be rewatching all of the episodes again so I can really pay attention
What are you watching these days?
Thanks so much to The Loft Literary Center for sponsoring this post.
Don’t forget to enter below for a chance to win a slot in one of the Loft’s online writing courses!
Congrats to Tracy!
By definition, a blog is an expression of ego. The blogger has carved out a piece of cyberspace to share herself and her opinions, and expects others to come to her and read them. Unlike an editorial in a newspaper or an essay in a literary journal, no third party has vetted the blogger’s commentary. She is self-published. Her words must carry their own authority.
People seem to be reading fewer blogs these days. We’ve all said it.
“I don’t read blogs as much as I used to.”
“I just don’t have time.”
“Comments are way down these days.”
I fall into the same camp. Part of me is too easily distracted by everything else demanding my attention – mainly email and Facebook notifications, as much as I hate to admit it – and the other part of me just isn’t as into it anymore. I feel like I’ve read it all before. Aside from a handful of my very favorites and a handful that I know personally, I’ve struggled to find anything that really grabs me.
When I do find one though, I latch onto it with both eyes.
I love blogging. I’ve been at it for 6 years now, and have never thought of quitting or even of taking a break. Granted, I’m not the best, most consistent blogger out there, but I do what I can with the time that I have, and I’m generally happy with my little space on the internet. I hadn’t really thought that there was too much more I could learn about blogging.
Then The Loft Literary Center contacted me about trying out one of their writing courses. Most of the options were geared towards fiction writers, so I chose Becoming a Standout Blogger: How to Create, Write, and Grow a Compelling Blog. I wasn’t sure what I would learn from the class or even what the other students would be looking to learn. Monetization? Page views? Social media? Conversations on blogging are so heavy with those things these days.
I’ve always been a believer that having good content is the best thing you can do for your blog. As soon as I received the course overview, I was super excited to see that the topics all revolved around just that. From finding your voice to engaging your readers, all while keeping in mind length and best practices for web writing, Becoming a Standout Blogger is all about writing and creating good content.
Our instructor, Patrick Ross, has set up the course with the following tools:
easy to navigate weekly lessons
3 – 5 links to other articles for students to read that pertain to the lesson
Weekly class forum and discussion questions. Each week I’m pleasantly surprised at how much insight the handout and articles and discussion questions have given me. For example, one lesson this week was how the essayist could employ the inverted pyramid tactics of the journalists to grab their readers upfront and keep them reading.
Weekly peer review forum
The content that Mr. Ross curates for the class provides a huge wealth of knowledge, but the forums are where the heart of the class really lies. In the weekly forum, students can reflect on and start a conversation about the week’s discussion questions. In the peer review forum, students are encouraged (but not required) to submit a post and have their peers provide feedback. I love both of the forums because they not only introduce me to new-to-me writers, but I’m getting to know more people through their outlooks on blogging itself, without the pressures of social media and page views and clicks.
In talking with a friend about blogging and courses and conferences a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I attend more for the community. I go to conferences to be with my people, not to learn anything. “I’ve been doing this for 6 years,” I would say. “I’ve changed platforms, designed my own site, figured out HTML.” I’ve even been through a few uncomfortable blog identity crises. I didn’t see what else I could learn about blogging, really.
I’m glad that this course was able to change my mind. One of the articles used in this week’s lesson encouraged bloggers to make learning a priority. Be a student. Because there’s always something else you can learn.
Now for the fun part. Leave a comment here for an entry to win a slot for yourself in one of The Loft’s online classes. So tell me, what have YOU learned about blogging lately?
Giveaway will end at midnight on Friday, October 31, 2014. Entrants must be over age 18. One entry per person.
To find out more about The Loft Literary Center, visit them at loft.org. Classes usually run 6 weeks and are offered for all ages in topics ranging from fiction basics to self-publishing to memoir. If you love writing and have been looking for something to challenge you and amp up your skills, The Loft is a great place to start.
When I picked Rachel and Claire up from school on Monday, the first thing out of their mouths was not actually “Oh, Mommy, we missed you so much! You look stunning, by the way.”
It was more like, “MOM. Do you know what BOOLIA is?” Well, hello to you too.
And I was like, “You mean bully? Bullying?” Because a) like most first graders, they have terrible recall on the actual names of things, and b) they had recently watched a cartoon on cyberbullying. A cartoon that had me answering endless questions about “mean emails,” and “Mom, did you ever receive mean emails when you were a kid?” and then the complete inability to fathom that when I was a kid, there was no email.
“No, MOM. EeeeBOOOOLIA! It makes you really really sick and you throw up your HEART!”
So I said, “Ohhhhhh. You mean ebola?”
My first thought is that of course they talked about ebola, since we got an email from the school about protocols and precautions, and there is all of one University of Texas student currently being monitored because she was on the plane with the latest patient.
“So did you guys talk about ebola today at school?”
“YES! S______ said that you’ll throw up your HEART! And DIE!”
Ah. Fear mongering playground talk with first graders. My favorite.
“Well, not exactly.” I mean, I’m sure that’s true, that one would, in fact, die if that happened, but I tried to explain that you couldn’t exactly vomit up your heart.
So Claire responded, “But S_______ SAID!”
Well, shit, it must be true then.
And that led to a fun and completely confusing-to-6-year-olds conversation about how one might catch ebola, how the doctors will try to help them, and don’t forget, you will probably throw up your heart and die.
So thanks, S______’s over-reacting parents. Next time I see your kid, I’m telling her about Santa. And the Easter Bunny. And how vomiting up your heart ISN’T EVEN POSSIBLE, YOU NOVICE.
Today was my birthday. I’m 36. I was planning a whole post about how, other than getting to go see a movie in the middle of the day with Christian, today really was just another day. But then I looked back and read last year’s post, and it pretty much said the same thing. So. Newsflash. It’s silly to expect birthdays with young kids to be anything special. I know this. When my mom friends are angry and frustrated that their Mother’s Days aren’t the magical, pampering experience they expected or wanted, I’m the one giving them the pep talks, reassuring them that Mother’s Day with young kids is HARD, but it won’t always be this way.
So that’s what I’m telling myself. I don’t want to complain. I got to kind of sleep in while Christian got the kids off to school. We went to a mid-day movie together (Gone Girl…have you seen it? I read the book and all, but DUDE.). A friend brought me a birthday present and some beer. And now I’m settling in with a grilled cheese sandwich, a Newcastle, a little work, and some Walking Dead. 36 can only go up from here!
I’m going to start off by saying right up front that this book – Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate – has pretty much changed my outlook on parenting. Family doctor and parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa has put together such a well-organized, easy to read manual on effective parenting, with advice for whatever phase of parenting you’re in.
I hate to break it to you guys, but I am pretty much a perfect parent. We eat dinner as a family just about every night, my girls are doing well in school, and I take my well-behaved children on fun outings where absolutely no one loses their shit, like ever. Basically, my life is a damn rainbow.
But every once in a blue moon, I lose my way on the parenting path and start to see that I’m headed down a wayward road. It happens gradually; I fall into a routine of ease and laziness, overlooking this behavior or that attitude. But before I know it it’s all Lord of the Flies up in here.
It starts with us
It was during one of those phases that Dr. Gilboa’s book fell into my mailbox. It’s not only given me great ammunition in small doses against a lot of my most notable parenting challenges, it’s also given me ideas for changes to make that will make this parenting gig a little more pleasant. Seeing as this is something I’ll be doing for several more years, putting the work in is worth it.
Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate is broken down into four parts:
- Part I: Respect – That’s My Kid!
- Part II: Responsibility: Count On It
- Part III: Resilience: Raising Problem Solvers
- Part IV: Making Change Happen: How to Actually Get Kids to Do This Stuff
The first three sections cover topics that parents may not necessarily struggle with, but should keep in mind when raising awesome kids. Things like being a good guest (respect!), asking how they can help (responsibility!), and managing relationships with siblings, friends, and teachers (resilience!).
Gilboa explains WHY it’s important to teach kids these things, then goes on to give real action items broken up by age group. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s an actionable item for those times when I’m just out of ideas and I’m all, “Seriously. Someone please just tell me what to do here.”
But the meat of the book lies in Part IV, where Gilboa goes beyond the tidbits of advice she’s given, and gets down into the nitty gritty of how parents can make change happen for their kids. And I have a secret:
It starts with us.
So all you have to do is change how you respond to your child’s words and behavior. Your change will lead to their change. — Dr. Deborah Gilboa
Problems and solutions
Each of my children comes with their own special challenges when it comes to parenting them, and juggling those different challenges is often where I struggle. Life would be much easier for me if their problems came straight off the conveyer belt and I could just methodically hack at them one by one.
Claire tends to get easily frustrated and gives up on herself before she’s really even tried.
Rachel is impulsive, and not in a good way.
Zoe suffers from – how should we say? – “I’m the littlest, and I’ve gotten away with so much for so long, that now I’m really pushing my boundaries and seeing if you’re serious with these attempts at disciplining me.” You can imagine that one’s going over REALLY well at preschool.
I was able to pull specific strategies from the book that have given me more guidance in their individual challenges:
When Claire gets frustrated because she can’t ride her scooter as fast as her sisters, I remind her that it’s not a race, and I just want her to do her best. But throwing the scooter in the neighbor’s yard is not acceptable, and you can either continue riding it around the block or carry it. Or we’ll leave it here for another neighborhood kid to enjoy.
When Zoe puts on her sassy pants, we swiftly inform her that she’s being disrespectful and give her options for more respectful ways of communicating. Being respectful to her teacher is important to us, but if we let her get away with having a little attitude at home – no matter how cute it can be on a 4-year-old – she will most definitely try to push those same boundaries at school.
Finally let’s take Rachel as an example, because this is an area in which I feel we’ve seen great improvement.
Have a plan
Lately Rachel’s temper has been getting set off at the smallest thing. We read only one story at bedtime, but she wants two. She’s bored and wants to watch TV, but we’re screen-free for the moment. Regular stuff that might cause a kid to groan, but for her, it causes all-out tantrums. She completely loses control of herself and her actions. As a parent, it’s extremely difficult to control your temper when your child is flailing her arms and hitting you.
One of the things Gilboa stresses the most in Part IV is that as a parent, you must have a plan. Things will go so much smoother if, when these challenges arise, you have a roadmap of how you are going to handle it. We were able to take several things from the book and put them together into a plan that worked for us in quelling these terrible tantrums.
- Remain calm, but stay firm, because this behavior is unacceptable. The angrier I got, the more out of control she got. I had to keep myself in check. (That part is HAAAARD.)
- Deliver consequences. Items thrown across the room (or at me!) will get taken temporarily, or sometimes permanently, depending on the item. I’ll throw out a cheap, plastic toy, but the favorite blankie becomes mine for the time being.
- Do not respond to irrational behavior (as long as she is safe from harming herself or anyone else). Every time we opened our mouths to try and calm her, it was like going back to square one. Depending on the severity of the situation, we choose to either leave her in her room alone to chill or sit with her, but we do not respond to her verbal lashes.
Maybe we’ve just been lucky, or maybe this stuff is really working, but each tantrum got increasingly shorter and spaced further apart. Before we instituted The Plan, we had a stretch where they happened several days in a row, and I thought I was going to LOSE my MIND. But the most recent time, within minutes of being left to calm down, she emerged from her room, all hugs and sincere apologies. And I am not even kidding you, I feel like I have my child back.
Your kids will love you. They will not always like you, and they will not always thank you or be able to explain your value. But they will love you. So don’t hold back on what they need. Don’t hesitate to guide behavior for fear of upsetting your child. To change a behavior, we have to get out of our comfort zone. — Dr. Deborah Gilboa
Think your parenting can benefit from Dr. Gilboa’s strategies? Purchase your copy of Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate on Amazon and start reclaiming the joy of parenting. You can also find Dr. Gilboa on her website, Ask Doctor G, and on her YouTube channel.
I received an advanced reader copy of this book for review. Amazon links are affiliate links.