Joanne Palmer: The soundtrack of a ‘tween
November 19, 2008
As I sat at my desk, fingers poised above the computer keyboard and staring at a blank word processing document with an equally blank mind, I felt a light brush against my shoulder.
Hooray, the muse!
Ah, divine inspiration has landed on my shoulder with a topic for this week’s column. Joy, hope and gratitude flowed through me, and my spirits soared to stratospheric heights. And then, I heard the sound of running feet.
“Did you just use my sweatshirt as a napkin?”
Laughter echoed from the hallway and my 11-year-old son.
This mom-as-napkin incident capped off an especially challenging three days of parenting. Please note: “challenging” is a kind adjective I use in place of other bon mots such as “tear my hair out” or “frustrating.”
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In the past few days, I’ve been treated to such delightful phrases as:
“You’re ruining my life.”
“I’m running away from home.”
“It’s my weekend, I should be able to do what I want to do.”
“None of my friends want to come to our house because you make us go outside.”
Outside. Gosh, what a mean mom I am. Just because I don’t want my son and his friends to get glassy-eyed from playing video games for eight hours at a stretch, I am regarded as Mama Cruella.
My son is at the end of the ‘tween years-the new word that describes the ages between 8 and 12 – the warm-up act before the teenage years jump on the stage.
I’ll never survive.
These challenging parenting moments drive me to consult books written by experts for answers. For help, I turned to the parenting books everyone recommends, Foster Cline & Jim Fay’s “Parenting with Love and Logic.”
Before I even opened it, I took issue with the title.
Where is the logic in love? Everyone knows falling in love makes a person do crazy, silly, unpredictable things. Especially mother love.
According to the book, to avoid arguments with your child, when they start badgering you for something, author Jim Fay advises, “just go brain dead.”
No problem. Most of the time, my son already thinks I am brain dead.
Fay continues, “This means that parents don’t try to argue or match wits with the child. They simply repeat, as many times as necessary, ‘I love you too much to argue.’ No matter what argument the child uses, the parent responds ‘I love you too much to argue.'”
So here’s what happened.
“Mom, I need a new video game,” he demanded.
“Sorry, it’s not in the budget right now.”
“What! You just bought new snow boots,” he accused me angrily. “You only spend money on yourself.”
“I bought you new sneakers and a new binder for school.”
“But I need a new game!”
“No, you don’t need one, you want one. A need is something like food, clothing, shelter.”
“I’ll skip dinner.”
“I love you too much to argue.”
“No, you don’t! If you loved me, you’d buy me the game.”
“I love you too much to argue.”
“Why are you repeating yourself? Are you having a stroke? Should I call 9-1-1?”
“Absolutely not. Dude, put it on your Christmas list.”
“Mom, Christmas is a long way away.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is.”
(Sound of door slamming) “I’m not talking to you anymore.”
And there you have it! Another loving, logical parenting moment.
But at least I got a column out of it.