Saturday, June 8, 2013

Needless Nagging

There are a few things about motherhood I just loathe:
    • I hate when snot gets on my shirt.
    • I hate how frequently children need to bathe.
    • I hate when my kids wander around the house saying, "Mom! Mom? Mom! Mom?" but mostly
    • I hate being a nag. 
 I mean really? Some things I've been saying repeatedly for as long as my kids have been alive. I just can’t believe, for example, that I should have to remind them everyday, twice a day, to brush their teeth. Really? They can't remember that?

Sometimes I wonder why I am so invested in their dental care. Those aren't even my teeth. Do I really care if they get a mouthful of cavities? It's not like the dentist will be drilling in my mouth. It won’t hurt me, will it? Well, I guess the bill could be quite painful.

I confess, there are some days; some very horrible, low days that I demand to inspect their teeth. I have to get in their mouth, poke around and look for evidence that they've brushed. I hate that. It would be so much simpler if they would just remember to brush their teeth.
No one told me about this part of motherhood.

Dental care is just one of many examples of the gazillion things I badger my kids to do regularly, and perhaps I shouldn't be surprised with this aspect of parenting but I never could have imagined some of the other ways I am forced to nag my kids.
Take being social for example. Sometimes I have to encourage my kids go and do stuff. Can you believe that? I have to make my kids have fun? And let me tell you even though we're talking about good times nagging still feels like nagging despite the subject matter.

I blame the television. Whenever the TV is on my kids’ brains and muscles stop functioning. To combat this chronic couch potato syndrome I will declare TV-free days, including leaving sticky notes on the screen saying, "Do not turn on!" or, if they beat me to the remote, I will physically stand between the couch and the television and insist they power down.

Which, woe is me if I demand they turn off a show before it is over! Then I hysterically remind my kids that Netflix has a pause button for a reason. Did they not learn object permanence as toddlers? Do they not understand the actors will remain right where we left them until the TV gets turned back on?

Perhaps I should bring this up to their pediatrician.

When I ask the kids to turn off the television it is almost always for a good reason. I might send them outside; encourage them to call a friend or perhaps I want to take them to one of the many awesome summertime activities around our community. But they drag their feet and complain, "We won't have any fun!”, "Won't know anyone there!" or "It will be boring!".

Does this only happen to me? Am I really in an argument with my children about ensuing fun? Then, to make matters worse, I am always right. My kids fuss and carry on, pout and skulk until they get where we are going and then magically, they have fun!

Hand to heaven I am not exaggerating. You would think this would make me smug but alas, it is in fact part of a vicious cycle. I have to nag, drag and practically push my kids out the door and every time, half way into the event, one of my children will turn to me and say, "Wow, Mom! This is fun!"

And then I swear in my head because it is just so darn frustrating.

Common sense would indicate the next time I suggest we all head out for an afternoon of fun and fresh air my kids would jump up off the couch and race to the van. But alas, it isn't so. I find an activity, we fight over going and they hesitantly obey me. What gives? Do my kids not trust me? Don't they know how smart and right I always am? Or again, is it a short-term memory issue?

Either way, I am bound and determined to take every moment I can to create fun and be outdoors this summer. I mean, the alternative is to be cooped up with five kids all summer long. And no one wants that. No one.
Perhaps mothers, since the beginning of time, have been nagging their kids and my experience is more common than I realize. All I know is that when my children protest I'm swift to remind them that they must do what I say and when they ask, "Why?" I say, "Because I'm the mom and I said so. That's why!"

Stephanie works during the school year as a parent educator with the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She is desperately trying to enjoy her summer off despite her kids' bad attitude. You can read her other articles at her blog

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