As far as parenting goes I consider myself to be above average. Not because I’m awesome--it’s more out of necessity. Seeing as how I have 5 kids I either had to rise to the occasion or risk being outnumbered and hogtied up by a most unruly bunch.In fact, I’m pretty sure whatever parenting skills I have acquired are more an indication of my willpower than my actual ability. You see, I’m relentlessly determined to keep my position of authority in our home. Even if it’s simply by the skin of my teeth, these kids of mine are not going to run me down.
Ok, so maybe it’s a pride issue too.All that being said, there is one parenting technique I have not been able to master in my 16 years on the job. No matter how hard I try I have yet to master ‘the look’.
When I was a child my father and mother could look at me with a combination of squinty-eyes and a raised eyebrow and I would cave. No matter what I was doing, no matter where I was or who I was with if they gave me ‘the look’ I immediately stopped in my tracks and sat stick straight still with my hands in my lap.My parents used this technique with such fluid precision I was certain it would be a genetic inheritance on my part but alas, I cannot effectively employ the stink eye.
I’ve raised my eye brow at my son when he used a questionable adjective to describe his teacher. He looked right back at me, raised his own eyebrow and said “What?” in that golly-your-annoying-me-preteen-tone.
I've tried squinting one eye down to the tiniest slit when my twins came tearing through the house with their muddy shoes on. They stopped only long enough to ask me “What’s wrong with your face mom?”
I most recently tried combining the single raised eyebrow/squinty eye look while taking my index finger and pointing at my face (as if adding a little hand gesture to my nonverbal exclamation would make ‘the look’ more obvious). It was not effective at all. It only prompted my teenager to say, “No Mom, you don’t have anything on your face.”
Clearly something is missing.Not one to give up, I remembered that on occasion, my mother or father would add a snap to ‘the look’. If we kids didn’t see my parents give the look they would draw attention with a stiff, quick, angry snap. I was certain given the next available opportunity I would instill a look, raise my eyebrow and a quickly snap. “That’ll teach my kids,” I thought with absolute certainty.
I was absolutely wrong. I just looked a little deranged and completely rhythm-less.All of this leads me to one sad conclusion: my kids are not very bright. Obviously they lack the ability to read nonverbal cues which is very frustrating as I would like to ideally raise my children with as little verbal communication as possible. I mean seriously, put yourself in my shoes. With 5 kids can you even comprehend how much talking I do? For example, I must remind each child to wash his or her face at least twice a day. Twice a day times five kids is ten statements. And you know no child washes their face when they are asked on the first time. Therefore we can conclude I probably say “Wash your face!” at least twenty times a day. That’s a lot. It would really be helpful if there was a ‘go-wash-your-face look’. If such a look existed I imagine I could shave at least 10 minutes off every day.
Alas, ‘the look’ continues to elude me. Someday perhaps I can sit down with my parents and ask them to critique my technique but until then I will have to work on my verbal clarity. I guess I will have to resort to giving my children proper, clear and age appropriate instructions. I imagine I’ll be forced to engage them in meaningful conversations and I’ll have to refrain from yelling empty threats from the opposite room. Instead, and most importantly, I’ll have to remember that disciplining my children is not about punishing them with my ugly face it’s about teaching them the right way of behaving. Besides, my parents might be right. If I keep making that face it just might stick that way! Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!
(This article appears in the Monmouth Daily Review Atlas every Tuesday as a part of my Practical Parenting series.) Stephanie is a Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She blogs at www.stephaniesikorski.blogspot.com and can be reached for comment or consultation at email@example.com
If you found me via the yeah write community I thank you! This is my 3rd link up and I am excited about the community of bloggers and writers I've found! Thanks for visiting today!