Saturday, November 20, 2010

come warm your toes and spill the beans

When we made our cross-country move from the land of coastal desert to the land of lush forests, our children were fascinated with all of the sticks. They loooooved to play with sticks. Everywhere we went, they were picking them up and fashioning them as swords or arrows or other agents for impaling themselves of their siblings.

I didn't care much for this stick playing stuff.

I respectfully asked them not to do it.

Kindly at first and then, with increasing frustration.

Because I have a propensity to worry about things, I worry that one of my children will poke their eyes out. And since my cousin is married to a man who actually lost his eye as a child due to a stick incident, this fear is very legitimate for me.

Two days before school started, Elizabeth came running in to the house with a huge gash beneath her eye, that extended to the bridge of her nose. She and her sister had been - you guessed it - playing with sticks and there was an accident. I summoned all of my children and told them, "I'm not sure how to communicate this with you. PLEASE do not play with sticks. We need to be so careful because it very easily could happen that a stick could slip and poke someone's eye out."

While I communicated this message to my children, I knew full well that the chances of it sticking were slim. Pardon the pun.

A few weeks later, a similar incident happened. This time it was Henry with the gash beneath his eye. He had been "accidentally" jabbed by his sister, Carolyn, when they were outside playing.

There was another session with me, chairing the discussion of the dangers associated with stick playing and telling the children, "Guys, if I have to tell you again, I might go a little insane. DO NOT PLAY WITH STICKS and if the temptation is too great and you absolutely MUST pick up a stick, DO NOT POKE SOMEONE ELSE IN THE FACE WITH IT. OK?"

Last month, the day before I was scheduled to fly off somewhere on a business trip, we sat down to have dinner as a family. And when I looked over at William, I noticed that he had a big gash beneath his eye. "William, what happened to your eye?!" I exclaimed. "Well... he looked over at his sister and said, Carolyn tried to poke me in the eye with a stick."

When I looked over at Carolyn, she smirked at me.

That's right. THE CHILD SMIRKED. AT ME.

She had just taken a bite of her dinner when I told her to go to her room. Five minutes later, when I thought that I had sufficiently pulled myself together to go in and talk with her about this matter, I found her sitting on her bed, smiling. Clearly, whatever message I was trying to convey was being lost and/or she was trying to see just how angry she could get her mother. So instead of flipping out, which I very nearly did, I informed her that she was going straight to bed, without finishing her supper.

This absolutely stunned her and she cried. And I felt a little sense of satisfaction that maybe, just MAYBE, I had gotten through to her, because POKING PEOPLE IN THE FACE WITH STICKS IS WRONG and the fact that you've done it THREE times tells me there is a problem here. You are not going to get attention from me by acting badly. And if you think you are going to get attention from me, I'm going to remove you from the situation and you will get no attention at all whatsoever, goodnight.

I shared a little of this story, last month, on my blog.

And the very next day, I received an e-mail from my mother.

In essence, my mother wanted me to know that it was cruel to send a child to bed without their supper and I need to find a way to be kinder and gentler with my children.

To be perfectly honest, it took me a few days to recover from my mother's note. Partly because I was worried that perhaps I really was a cruel parent and even if not, people might THINK I'm a cruel parent. (For the record, if it was indeed cruel, cruelty works. In six weeks time, no one has attempted to poke anyone else in the face with a stick.) In the midst of all this, my sister called and in all of her wisdom shared with me three things.

1. It's not always easy to keep your cool when raising children.

2. Don't write about things like this on my blog because I'm just opening myself up to criticism.

3. Read this book on Positive Discipline. Then she sent me her copy.

When I received the book, I read it cover to cover and I immediately felt empowered. I started to use some of the tactics. Which, I actually had been using previously, but never knew that I had been using and that they had a name.

Things were going swell and I felt very Zen.

Until ... last week, the day after I tumbled in the parking lot and severely sprained my ankle and ripped open my hands. I had to drive myself to the doctor's office because Charlie needed to be home to pick up the children when they returned from school. After my appointment, I needed to hurry home because Charlie had to run out the door to a dentist appointment.

As I was driving home, my husband called to tell me that one of the neighbors had dropped by, with her seven-year-old daughter, and had invited all three of the triplets to her house for a play date. And because at that point, Charlie and I hadn't fully worked through our "strategy" surrounding play dates, he thought it would be a swell idea for the kids to go over, without one of us in attendance.

When he called to tell me this, I nearly swerved off the road. It was at that very moment, I realized it went against my parental instinct for our children to go on a play date without one of us.

"GO GET THEM" I said.

"What do you mean? They've only been there for 45 minutes!" he exclaimed.

"Listen," I said. "I'm very concerned that 1., we just moved in to the neighborhood and we don't really know these people and I don't feel comfortable with our children at their house, without one of us in attendance. And, 2., they have one child, we have TRIPLETS, and it would be very easy for us to overwhelm them and who knows how they are behaving without us there supervising them?"

The more I spoke, the more frantic I became.

"Charlie! You know what they're like when they go in to a NEW environment! They tend to get a little excited and if they are climbing the walls and swinging from the chandelier pretending they're Tarzan, I wouldn't be surprised. PLEASE. GO GET THEM. RIGHT NOW!" I pleaded.

"Well, Henry just went down for a nap. I can't leave," he explained.

"FINE. I'll get them on my way home."

We hung up. Fifteen minutes later, I pulled in to our neighbor's drive way, hobbled out of the car and slowly limped up to the front steps. An hour is a sufficient amount of time for a play date, I thought as I rang the doorbell and a minute later, our neighbor, an absolutely lovely woman, answered the front door. She was slightly surprised to see me, but I explained that Charlie was leaving for a dentist appointment, Henry was taking a nap, I needed to get home and put my foot up, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

She said that she'd be more than happy to bring them home in another hour or so, but you know me with me all my "issues", I politely declined.

I went to go collect my children who were playing in the basement. They were running about and playing Wii and dressing up new dolls and clearly, having the most fun they've ever had their entire lives. And here comes gimpy Mommy who is audibly groaning with every step.

"I am so glad that you guys are having a fun time," I told my children, "But it's time to go. Daddy is leaving in a few minutes for a dentist appointment, Henry is taking a nap and I really need to put my foot up." Then, I brightly added, "It will be great to get together some other time. Maybe we can invite our neighbors to our house!"

The kids didn't even look in my general direction. They completely ignored me, as I stood there, debating how to get them to put on their shoes and coats and FOLLOW before I collapsed on the floor, crying in pain.

My first attempt was to tell them that they had TWO minutes to finish playing and get ready. When two minutes were up and they were pulling more toys out of the toy box, I told them it was time to go NOW. The kids continued to play. Meanwhile, my neighbor is standing next to me, undoubtedly critiquing every move because, really - how does a handicapped woman with THREE six-year-olds who are clearly disobeying her, handle such a situation?

I did my very best to keep my cool and hope that my head didn't complete a full rotation on my shoulders as I started to count.

"ONE. TWO..." The kids don't even look at me. "THREE" I declare.

Carolyn stands up and shoots me a dirty look. Elizabeth turns her back and keeps playing. I limp over to them and hiss, "We will NOT come back if you do not GET UP AND PUT ON YOUR SHOES. IMMEDIATELY." The girls slowly oblige, while rolling their eyes and sticking out the very tips of their tongues.

SOOOO cute. I could PINCH them they are so adorable.

I limp back to William who is playing the Wii. I bend down to his eye level and firmly place my hand on his arm, "William," I continue, "It's time to go, put this down and put on your shoes, thanks for your cooperation, Little Man."

But! Instead of cooperating, my son turned a few different shades of red and started to scream. My precious son, who I cannot recall ever throwing a public tantrum and is usually very reasonable, started to jump up and down and then (God Help Me) KICKED THE NEIGHBOR'S COUCH while yelling to the whole world that he is NOT LEAVING and HE HAS THE MEANEST MOMMY EVER.

And me, being the meanest mommy ever, leaned down and glaring in to my son's eyes said between clenched teeth, "You think I'm being mean now? JUST WAIT UNTIL WE GET HOME." My face was contorted in to something from a horror show (partly from pain and partly from frustration) as I completely disregarded everything I'd learned about "POSITIVE" discipline.

It took me another three minutes to get my furiously angry children upstairs to the front door. And just as we were walking out the front door, the girls dart out the side door to the garage, jump in the daughter's 4X4 Barbie Mobile, and take off driving out of the garage and across the newly planted flower beds.

I'm absolutely aghast at their behavior and wondering if this my fault because I'm not home with them full time? Lord knows that when I'm home, I run the show like BOOT CAMP and when I say jump, the kids say HOW HIGH LOVELY MOMMY?

Clearly, this is a bad thing as the neighbor runs over and says, "Whoa, Whoa, STOP!" and then she helps them turn the wheel to get the car back in to the garage. At this point, all I can see is red. Not from embarrassment but from ANGER. My children were acting as though they were the spawn of Satan.

I'm finally able to get the kids in to the car. William is scowling. Elizabeth and Carolyn are both frowning. As for me, there might have been venom dripping down the side of my face as I looked over the back seat at them and started to UNLOAD. At first, they start to laugh thinking that I'm acting like a funny crazy nut, but then they see that my eyes are bulging out of my head and the veins in my neck are about to rupture and whoa is that Mommy's esophagus? That's when all three children actually held hands, closed their eyes tightly and evoked in my memory the scene from Toy Story 3, where the toys prepare to meet their demise before falling in to flaming pit of fire.

More and more, I hear about the no-spanking movement. People who are convinced that spanking is bad and harmful to a child and no one who loves and respects a child would EVER spank them. Before I tell you how I handled this, I'd like to hear from my fellow Pioneers as we are gathered here, around this virtual campfire.

Please, share with me what YOU would have done?

I need ALL the details.

107 comments:

  1. You've got to talk to them and explain to them how you felt. They have to tell you how they felt too. And no playing until after the talk is over and they really understand your side.

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  2. my dad sent me to bed without my dinner a hanful of times...it sucked. my dad sometimes spanked me, too, and /hard/. That wasn't the best, but it really wasn't horrible until he did it when I was pretty old (like 12), and my cousins were over.

    in terms of mommy rage, my mom flew off the handle a couple of times, and my brother and I still talk about those moments in hushed whispers...haha. Once she pulled the car off the road and just SCREAMED. needless to say, the rest of the trip home was pretty tame.

    I dunno, honestly as long as what your kids usually hear is love and affection and what they usually feel are kisses and hugs, I think a little "tough love" every once in awhile won't ruin them.

    --carrie

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  3. I may get shot- but I believe in spanking. After a cool down. But at age 6 I think a spanking could be very effective and by the sound of it is warranted in this case. Since you asked.
    Oh- and I don't think missing one meal will hurt a child- especially if it helps to get an important point across.

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  4. Oh my, that sounded like a parent's worst nightmare.I think what you did so far was what I would have done. The trips need to know that you are the boss and that they can't sway you from what you said is law. I'm waiting to see what happens next!

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  5. Oh my gosh! I don't have advice because I think I would have gone and got the forbidden stick and poked them each in the eye. But...this post had me laughing - hard! I remember I used to think I was the BEST mom in the whole world and that was why my son was so pleasant and sweet and well mannered. And then my youngest was born. I quickly discovered much of children's behavior has to do with their genes and not their wonderful, well meaning, protective, loving, super-special moms!! Thank you so much for your honesty and the great laugh. Remember, this to shall pass ;O)

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  6. Are you going to post this? Because if so, don't you dare put my name on it. I don't want the other campfire folks bashing me.

    I see red right along with you. I would have sent each to their room with "I'll be right in there to discuss your behavior". And I would have calmed myself and gone to one room first...had a talk about good behavior and then bare bottom spanked him 4-5 good hits to remind him about being respectful and obedient. My boys hate bare bottom spanks, but with clothes on, I had one laughing when he got spanked and I was not dealing with that. And then remind him that if he dares to do it again.....it will be so bad he can't sit down.
    And then to the other rooms and same situation.
    I don't tolerate the disrespect. If my boys can't respect their own parents, look at the trouble down the road with ALL authority.
    And if my boys can't be obedient now, how can they obey ANY laws in the future?
    Discipline them now so the gov't/others don't have to discipline later. (and so I am not embarrassed!)
    And for the most part, I do positive parenting also...until it is not effective. Then it all goes down like above.

    Melody, in Knoxville TN with triplet boys......

    p.s. I use tobasco sauce for sassing and lying too! ... but I really am a sweet girl and good mom!!!! Please believe me! :)

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  7. Well, we were spankers.

    *start hissing and throwing of food now*

    We spanked infrequently but we followed James Dobson's advice on when spanking was appropriate:

    -occasions of immediate danger - Do not run into that road again!!! A swat on the hind end might save their life.

    -WILLFUL DISOBEDIENCE - when the child looks you in the eye and laughs at your discipline or does what you have just told him not to do.

    To us that was the most important issue. If a child is willfully mocking or disobeying you, they need to learn ASAP that is not okay. All kids try it and I know mine did. If they mock their parents they will think it's okay to mock all adults.

    I do understand the thinking of the nonspanking parents - I get it. But we felt that reasoning with a child was not always the answer.

    We are also of that really odd mindset that says our children were not our equals. They were at the bottom of the heirarchy in our house. We loved them, protected them and nurtured them, but we also taught them that mom and dad were to be respected (sometimes the reminders were a bit painful) We tried to let them know that they might be the center of OUR world but they were not the center of THE world. A fine line I know.

    I cannot wait to see the discussionon this one.

    (And I'm a little scared that I might be the only spanker on here...)

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  8. whoo hooo....here we go......

    i'd be FURIOUS with my children if they acted like that.

    would they get a spanking? yep.

    i would also make them apologize to the other mom. eye to eye. right then after I straightened them out. Then I'd call the mom later and apologize for me having to discipline my children in front of her.

    How is it that kids seem to know when we've been beat down by the day and just make it worse by acting out horribly??? (They know us...that's why...like dogs they smell our stress!)

    positive discipline??? I get it. And there are way to positively "train" your childen how to behave properly. But displining your child for misbehavior is not the same thing in my mind.

    yeah yeah...i was spanked as a child. had a healthy fear of my parents. love and respect them and spend a lot of time with them as adults.
    but I am terrified of spanking. and I hate it.

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  9. Just stumbled onto your blog. We recently moved from Northern California to Florida. No advice for you on how to handle your situation. My trio is 2 1/2-3 (twins plus one only 4 months apart). Thanks for reminding me about positive discipline. I read the positive discipline 0-3 years but now I need to read the preschool years one. My kids have been crazy lately and I need help. I'll check back to see the recommendations from others. ;)

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  10. I probably would have handled it much like you did. Except there would have been a counting...one...two...three. Guess you're getting x taken away at home. Then y. Then z. And now you're getting a spanking when you get home.

    And yes, we have spanked. And no, I'm not sorry. We spank very rarely. But it's enough that when I get to that point, my 5 year old knows that I mean business.

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  11. Are you serious? You found a woman to take your spawn during Henry's naptime? I would have went home, taken a pain pill, put my foot up, and sent Charlie to get them in another hour.

    DUH!!!!!!!

    Then if my children would have ever disrespected me in front of someone else, I would have paddled the heck out of them.

    But that wouldn't have happened to me because I would have been at home drinking wine in my black shirt. Gah.

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  12. Whoa. I have one (in the throes of threedom), who has on occasion acted in that very same manner-although she seems to save it for home instead of public most of the time. I am not necessarily an advocate of spanking, but that doesn't mean I haven't 1) threatened a swat on the rear and then 2) followed through with said threat. And while I'm sure it would have been a challenge on a good day with three-I have been known to simply tuck said child under my arm, make our apologies and leave. I am somewhat ashamed to say when this happens at home and I am already feeling crappy/sick, I have also been know to scream right back, and send us both to our rooms for a time-out to avoid doing anything regrettable. I am not sure I could have held it together long enough to get the car in your situation.

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  13. Will love to see the answers to this one! I don't have anything useful... I would have done a combo of hollering like crazy or guilt-tripping like crazy depending on how tired I was. Actually probably the most useful thing you could have done, from my point of view now, is to break down in tears crying about how tired and sore and sad you were from getting hurt and how horribly worse they made you feel by not listening.
    Take it with a grain of salt, though.. I'm the mom whose 6 year old has been sneaking candy pretty much every day for the past few days despite guilt trips, yelling, timeouts, and an unsuccessful attempt to make the candy harder to find. (Today's ploy: make candy even harder to find, plus obvious dessert/treats for everyone else who hasn't already eaten a week's worth of dessert today).

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  14. It's easier to avoid bad behavior happening than deal with it when it does. I try to do a post-game analysis of how I could have handled a situation so it didn't get to that point. Just did it today - Next time I pick her up from Art class I will bring her a snack; she was too hungry to wait until we got home, and things went downhill from there.

    In this case, maybe you could have asked the mom if she minded you sitting with them, with your foot up, for 15 minutes while they finish up? Then give them a "We should go home now, but you guys look like you're having so much fun; you want to play a little while more?" speech. Semantics. (Also, it would have given you a chance to get to know the neighbor a little.)

    Re: consequences for the bad behavior, I personally don't spank. I generally take things away, on the spot, as a consequence. "You know how you were looking forward to going to X? Well, we're not going to do that now, and it's because of how you acted at the neighbor's house. It's a consequence; and the next time you feel like that, you'd better think about how you choose to act, because if you act like that again there will be consequences again." I don't know how that would work for your kids but it works here. So far. (Three kids! I cannot imagine how you handle stuff like this with three different kids.)

    I have also sent to bed for the night without dinner once or twice for serious offenses. I don't think that's out of line if it's very infrequent and only for big deals. It makes your point.

    Leslie

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  15. As soon as it became apparent that one, two, or all three of them were not going to cooperate anytime soon, I'd have picked them up one at a time, quietly, very queitly, taken them to the car and buckled them in. If #2 wasn't deterred, I'd do the same, then #3. I'd have thanked the neighbor and apologized for their behavior and left. When I got them home I'd like to think I would not have yelled (I hate it when I yell at my kids)but would've told them that that was totally out of line and they'd have been sent to their room for a time out, and most likely a favorite toy would be off limits for the rest of the day. The next day I'd have the three of them draw a picture or sign a card and then hand deliver it to the neighbor and haven them apologize.

    As for going to bed without dinner, I did that once with my 4 y.o. daughter who was showing signs of a perpetual pushing problem with her twin brother. That night she'd pushed him as he stood naked and wet after a bath. He was standing on a tile step and could've gotten hurt badly. The amount of times she'd been reprimanded for pushing him was obscene in my book and so I thought it was totally justified to send her to bed. This is a little girl who is otherwise an angel. Guess what? Pushing stopped. When someone else's safety is at stake and they've been warned so many times, I don't feel that's mean.

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  16. I'm loving this virtual campfire thing!

    Sounds like the triplets think the consequences of disobedience aren't that bad...I've been there & it stinks!

    First, I would have the kids write an apology letter & deliver it to the family for running through the flowers. I'm sure she works hard caring for the beds & it sounds like she was audibly upset by their actions.

    What has worked for us is to tell our boys that we will not return for a LONG time if they do not leave the first time asked. This summer, I took them to the community pool & my eldest son refused to leave. I put my younger child in the stroller with our swimming bag & had to CARRY a four year old, kicking & screaming, while pushing a stroller all the way to the car. I had to forcibly put him in his car seat. I was furious. I didn't speak to him (mostly just so I wouldn't say something I'd regret) the entire way home. When we got into the house, I sat both of the boys down and told him his behavior was unacceptable. I refuse to be treated with such disrespect and, therefore, we will not be visiting the pool for a LONG time. My younger son protested that he had gotten out when asked & I thanked him for that, but then explained that in our family we have to do most everything together and if brother can't go, no one gets to go. His not leaving when asked ruined it for everyone. When we would drive by the pool or they would ask to visit, I would tell them no. We finally did return & I haven't had to ask twice since. I think this approach (spoiling the privilege for everyone) has worked very well. It encourages the children to hold each other accountable, which is something I didn't actually plan.

    In your instance, once in the car (or home depending on how hot I was) I would have probably told them they would not be attending anyone else's home for a LONG time...the whole talk on disrespect, yadda, yadda, yadda. Maybe have the neighbor mom help you out. When you and the children are in the yard, ask her to walk down & remind YOU what a great time everyone had playing and ask if they would like to come over to play again. You could then let her know that the children are unfortunately unable to play at the time, but they are working on their manners and will hopefully be able to play again soon.

    Good luck!

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  17. I actually like that you write about your concerns at doing the right thing with the kids. You are opening up to critism but there are always a few sour apples, even if you keep your mouth shut and smile.
    I only have one, very precocious and lovable little boy. And some days, I could go through the roof. When he pulls those temper tantrums like you have talked about here - oh man. I really try not to hit him. I have on occassion but in his 5 years, it's been about 5 times.
    I try to calm myself down. So if it was me, on the way home, I would not talk to him and then as we pull in, I would tell him to go straight to his room because I'm disappointed in his behavior. He usually cries and I let him have time to cry. Then I go in and talk to him about how he acted and ask him if he thinks it was acceptable and what he needs to do in the future to be able to have play dates. It actually works and he has stopped doing it.
    I would think they got tied up in having a good time, it was after school and they were probably tired which doesn't help when you need them to cooperate.
    In this situation, I would tell them I was disappointed and if that behavior is not tolerated. And if they do it again, it will be a long time before there is another play date. And before the next play date, I would remind them of what I expect.
    Also, I talked with my husband about your concern of the children going to someone elses house and/or someone else driving them. I was surprised that I am more relaxed on both these points than him. I wonder if the difference is that mine has gone to a sitter and grandma's house so I can work versus being home with him. Not sure, but it's good to see other views. Makes for good debates. :-)

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  18. Expectations are clear at our house, we do spank. You cannot reason with a child, there needs to be a consequence and whatever you choose to do it must be a done consistently. With all that said, parenting is so tough and none of us have the answers. It is great to share and learn together. My opinion is spanking, but the fact of the matter is whatever you do, do it consistently.

    In the fact of the play date, honestly I wouldn't have ended it early or at least given the kids 15-20 minutes to play while chatting with the mom. But for the other part of the story, I think you did the right thing. Not sure how you followed it up at home, but...

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  19. When my older boys were about 3 and 4, they threw a fit when it was time to leave Chuck E.Cheese. Since I HATE that place, I told them that if they didn't stop immediately and get in the car quietly, we would never return. They continued the fit. We have never returned (they are now 7 and 5). Whenever a similar situation arises, all I have to say is "remember Chuck E. Cheese?" and I have instant compliance. Say what you mean and follow through! :-)

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  20. I think you went way too far. I woulda just left them play there. If you just HADDA know what was goin on, you coulda called, and even asked to talk to the children. You could tell by their voice how they were. Since you actually went there, you could SEE how they were - GREAT! :D You shoulda left them there playing, and gone home and tended to your wounds.

    This is *SO* much better than soap operas or cable TV! :D You have NO IDEA how much money I'm savin by not havin cable TV! :D

    ~Tuned in ~Cindy! :)
    ..

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  21. Honey, I hate to say it, but I would have spanked them carefully on their little behinds, isolated them from one another, and then had the lecture about disobedience. They were clearly being defiant and I believe that has to be nipped in the bud, like yesterday!!

    What a terrible spot for you to have to be placed in. I'm sure you were so embarrassed, add the pain, and I would say they were lucky not to get a smack right then and there.

    I know spanking is considered a terrible thing to do, but if it is reserved for drastic situations, it may speak louder than a lot of words.

    It is interesting that perhaps one child would not have the nerve to pull something like this, but I can see that with three of them they draw from one another in these situations maybe???!!

    I let a lot slide with my kids, because they are, after all, just kids, but there was always certain discipline for disobedience and for lying, both so important in character building.

    I doubt any of your posters will say to spank, but sometimes kids need a little "shock"...and you know, I'm sure, that they learn to tune us out when we lecture, preach, or dialog too much.

    I felt for you in every word you wrote--and then to be hurting beside--I'm so sorry that happened.

    Well, by now its been worked out and I shall be anxious to hear how you handled it.

    You know going to school for the first time really gives kids an air of independence they haven't experienced before. I sent an easy going little boy to school, who never exhibited any anger. And before he had been there very many weeks, I got a call that he was screaming, f---er, f---er, over and over again, in anger, at a child who had done something to him.

    I nearly died. I explained to the teacher he had never even heard that word at home. He learned it at school and used it well.

    Kids can mortify us. I have to say, that was an isolated incident, but I use it to show that our well regulated children sometimes do act out in strange ways that leave us red faced and doubting ourselves and our parenting abilities!!

    Cheer up, This too shall pass.

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  23. hey, I updated my blog - check out some cute William photos!

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  24. wow! not sure I want to touch this one with a ten foot pole. Your kids are normal x3! You are the normal, working mother of 4, who is the new kid on the block. You were in an anxiety provoking situation (darn kids do that all the time don't they?) and your kids were not cooperating. don't be too hard on yourself-- evaluate what went wrong and what went right. vow to maybe do it different the next time and then you know what LET GO OF IT! sure will happen again, you can count on that. they are only 6 after all. this too will pass.

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  25. HI! I would have let the kids at the pladate at first because:
    1: Since she offered to bring them home, you would have an hour of much needed (apparently) calm and rest to you at your home.
    2: If the triplets were too much work, she would have called you to bring them back home. But she knew they were triplets when she invited them, so to my opinion she was prepared for a little chaos inside her home.
    3: I think instead of keping your children away from parties were you or your husband cannot go, why don't you explain them how to react if someone make them uncomfortable? I think it would be wiser because you talk about playdate when you don't know the families but what if it's at school, or at an extra-curricular activity or even if it's one of the kid at school who harms your child? Believe me, they're six, they can totally understand how to react, they're not babies anymore.
    4: About the spanking thing, I would have done it right away. I know some people don't share my opinion, but honestly, when a child is having a trantrum, that's becausehe doesn't know how to react and he needs someone to stop him right now! If you could the best would have been to carry him, put him in the car and send him to his room alone once at home. In your situation, with three kids, and no time, a littls spank would surely have calm him down, he'd knew you were really angry and felt a little embarassment from being spanked. I remember being spanked one or two time as a kid (but i'm sure I have been much more!) and honestly, I can remember now how my mom was not ok with my behavior! .....I'm not traumatised in any way....
    5:Anyway, to me with this whole playdate situation I would say: every kids can go 2 or 3 pladates a month, they can choose which one they want to go but stick to this number of playdates. I would not go with them, because I could have some free time for me. They would have a blast, be happy to find their brothers and sisters while back home and I could spend some alone time with the kid(s) that is (are) not going.

    Have a nice day!

    Maud

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  26. Hmmm. I have twins, and they are 4. Plus a baby. So down an order of magnitude from you. Just stating my qualifications here. I too am undecided about the whole smacking thing. I'm neither 100% for or against it. I haven't smacked my children for two years, and before that, infrequently. I don't expect I'll do it again, but I'd never be totally sure of that. I found it effective, especially if hardly ever used, but I stopped because a) I felt like a hypocrite trying to teach a child not to be violent towards others by punishing their violence with a smack, and b) I had an incident with my daughter where she was extremely naughty and at the moment when I picked her up to put her in her room she raked her finger nails across my face, drawing blood (!). Somehow the pain made me lose it and I smacked her without thinking, and hard, and shocked both of us. I felt rock bottom for days about it and have not done it since. OK, go ahead now, you non- smacking internet people and criticise my parenting. I can take it.

    Anyhow, I read your blog from time to time and I think you are a great mother. If that were me in your situation (and I'm sure it will be one day), I would be livid too. I don't think smacking would be the way to go, for all sorts of reasons, but none of them coming from up on a high horse. Rather than ranting on about my issues with their behaviour, I think I would tell them how angry I was and ask them to tell me why they think I was so angry (so that I could see if they understood what the problem was). If they got it, good, if not, I would spell it out for them. Then I would radically withdraw some priviledge related to the incident (eg, we will not be having any playdates for two weeks) and then give them the opportunity to earn them back by demonstrating good behaviour. (eg, we are going to visit x, I want you to be on your best behaviour, and when I say it is time to go I want you to do x y and z without a fuss, and if that happens, we can talk about having some play dates again after that). Hmmm well that's my theory, anyway!

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  27. Spare the rod...spoil the child..With love..of course:)

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  28. Good move to not publish the comments yet! Can't wait to read them...

    I used to be one of those moms who said she wouldn't spank...went to the Love & Logic classes, went off on my mom in front of a Parents as Teachers educator, when she regaled us with the story of how she swatted MY diapered Julia when she ran into the street, etc. etc.

    Then the twins turned two. And three. Let's just say, that I now understand the wisdom of an occasional spank when things are especially bad or dangerous. I got most of the occasional spanks out of the way when they were still in diapers, so they were more of a surprise to them than painful, and now, although they have their moments, at almost four, they are pretty well behaved and have manners. I can't even remember the last time they had a spank. We're pretty much getting by with time-outs or uh-ohs (whatever you want to call them...) and they don't even get those very often. They know that mommy can and will break out the real punishment at any time. And you know what? I've decided a little fear is a good thing when it comes to children's behavior. Also, Santa Claus is one of the best disciplinary tools I've ever used. Ok. Let the flaming begin!

    p.s. I don't really share my methods with my mother.

    p.s.s. I also used to be one of those parents who said her kids wouldn't watch any TV until after the age of two. Then I re-discovered Sesame Street! Parenthood is constantly evolving because the children are constantly evolving.

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  29. You were uncomfortable that they were there because you didn't know the woman. You went to her house, saw the kids were playing nicely, in an environment that they were having fun...looked okay. Woman was nice. I would have explained that I didn't know her very well and stopped to check on the kids. If she was sure they were okay for another hour, you changed your mind and it would be lovely for them to stay for another hour.

    But, that would have also have meant that you had a different mindset before you even got to the house. Charlie thought it was okay. You stopped and clearly saw that they were having a good time. You could have asked the mom a couple of questions, while scanning the house a bit, and taken her up on her incredibly generous offer to keep ALL THREE of your children so you could go home and rest a little.

    But, because you went with the mindset that they were coming home no matter what, you had to follow through when they started behaving badly. (if they would have said, "mom, can't we stay jut a little longer??" I may be inclined to be okay with changing my mind so long as I felt the situation was okay) But, once the horrible behavior started, you have to continue on. It's embarassing, it's maddening, and you wonder if you are ever going to be able to let your kids go over to someone's house at all because you never want to be in this situation AGAIN!

    Mark my words: It WILL happen again. It will happen if you show up expected after the planned two hour play date or early because something came up. It's just something you have to get through. You have to have a plan for this kind of stuff and how you will handle it. It also helps if the other parent helps out a little too telling the kids that as long as it's okay with mom, they can come back another time.

    Sounds like you have a great neighbor. Get to know her so you can use her to help you figure out play dates. Work together.

    Oh, and kids who visit your house will do the same thing too! So, remember that and help those parents too. It's not that they are BAD kids, they just don't want to leave the fun!!

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  30. I don't beat my child, ever. However there is a HUGE difference between BEATING and SPANKING. And my daughter has had her hiney spanked twice by me and once by my husband. (She's 6, almost 7) - and this only happened in the very worst of situations...something that we tried and tried and tried to get her to stop doing/start listening/knock it the heck off, etc. And I can tell you, whatever these attitudes my daughter had during those 3 times - she has not done it again. She won't. Because she remembers when she got her hiney smacked. (for the record...over my knee. smack. smack.) Good luck - Jess

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  31. The thing about small children is that they are not rational human beings. Their brains are not yet fully developed, so sometimes it is difficult to change behavior by trying to rationalize with them. One thing kids do remember is something that hurts. The hurt can be a toy that was taken away, going to their room, losing privileges (tv, video games, etc.), going to bed without dinner (for major offenses like your stick incident), or a sting on the bottom. I'm not talking about BEATINGS. I'm talking about just enough of a tap to teach the child a lesson. Our son has been spanked all of 3 times in his life, which were for the most major offenses. On those occasions we told him he was getting a spanking and we sent him to his room to think about it. He would wail and wail while contemplating his impending doom. Finally we would come in the room together, and one of us would talk to him first about why he was getting spanked and what he could do differently next time, and then he would get a little sting on the bottom. Not enough to leave a mark, but enough for him to not want that to happen again. It worked. We explain to him that is our JOB as parents to make sure he behaves the way he is supposed to behave. If he chooses inappropriate behavior, it is our job to correct him in a manner that we know will change his behavior in the future. He feels safe knowing that he can predict what will happen if he chooses inappropriate behavior. He is not afraid of us, but he respects authority. He does things we ask him to do the first time, without us even having to give him "the look." He is a gentle, happy, well-adjusted and loving little boy. He gets what seems like hundreds of hugs and kisses from us both each day. He was also one of two children in his class last year that got perfect daily behavior grades at school, and he has perfect daily behavior grades so far this year. To us, good behavior comes first, especially in school. If a child is well behaved, the rest will fall into place. As for the scarring our spankings have caused, we can say that he has shown no agression towards other children. We did not teach him that hitting was an appropriate way to solve problems. He knows that he was being disciplined and that it is not his place to ever discipline another child, particularly in that manner. He also knows that we recognize, appreciate and reward good behavior. Good behavior = happy parents = happy children.

    Last year we did have one experience like yours at the friend's house. It was his first time at someone else's house and he got overly excited. His behavior was not up to our standards, so we had him write a letter to the parent of the other child that night. After dinner we took him over there and had him read it to her and apologize. I called the parent ahead of time to ask her to help us make this a good learning experience for our son, which she did. We haven't had that problem since.

    You are doing a good job! Good luck, and don't let anyone guilt you into doing things their way. You know what is best for your kids.

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  32. Holy cow!

    I never, ever attmepted to extract my children at that age without multiple warnings - starting with the ten minute warning. It might be ten minutes, it might be 3 but it gives them fair warning and a bit of time to adjust to having to go home. I would then have taken the time to have a chat with the mother and look around the immediate surroundings, giving the 9, 8,7 minutes warnings as we went.

    It wasn't their fault that you wanted them out of there and they are too big for you to grab and tuck under your arms, so you have to get their co-operation. Threats and whatever are no good at this age, they haven't quite reached the age of reason yet.

    My husband reacts like this All. the. time. And guess what - the kids ignore him and have a confrontational relationship with him. He's going away for 6 weeks to work and he's taking positive parenting with him!

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  33. Uh, HELLO. Where is the campfire discussion without comments?

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  34. I have no triplets. I have no children at all. Which makes me completely no qualified to give any advice whatsoever. So I won't! Just to say: I'm fairly sure that is EXACTLY what I would have done...sorry I have no wisdom in this matter. If my ankle was near broken and my hands ripped to shreds after being screamed at by some crazy overzealous crossing guard all in the midst of my equilibrium being jangled from a giant cross country move and going from stay at home to work in an office? I might have actually tied my children together with pillow cases and rolled them into the car. In my opinion you executed with more grace than I would have! (maybe I should stick with the no kids thing huh? :P ) Parenting is hard. I'm going to stick to med school instead. :P

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  35. Well first I would like to tell you that my father in law is missing an eye from a pencil accident as a child. Sharp pointy things are dangerous, last time he visited he showed our daughter his fake eye. I allow myself to go totally ballistic when it comes to safety issues. I imaging my seven year old thinks my head might start to spin sometimes.

    As for the other parenting issue, I can totally relate, can't we all. There are times when we get so angry, so frustrated that it feels as though we could explode at them. When I do lose it and my daughter puts her hands over her ears and closes her eyes, so she does not have to listen or see my tirade anymore I take a deep breath and realize this approach is not getting us anywhere. She is no longer listening and whatever it is that she is doing or not doing is no longer what we are fuming about. After a few minuets pass we try to talk about the behavior or problem that made mommy so angry and I try to come up with clear rules for her to follow so the behavior does not happen again.

    Parenting is an individual journey and no one can tell someone else what is ultimately right or wrong for them. My personal belief is that spanking is wrong. My main goal as a parent is to have my children learn to manage their feelings appropriately. Are they angry they are leaving their new friends house to soon, how can they deal with those feelings without hurting themselves, the furniture or making other people around them mad? For small children the hardest part is learning to identify what feelings they are even having and how to express them appropriately. I don't see how spanking them will help them succeed at any of these tasks.

    Modeling appropriate behavior is key as well as voicing for them what they are probably feeling. Sometimes just acknowledging that they are angry and it is alright for them to feel that way, gives them reason to pause and start listening to you again. You could have told them you know they are having fun and that they are mad the playdate is ending to soon and let them voice some of their anger about that before you tried to get them out the door. Even with all of that sometimes kids still pitch a fit and that is when I find if there are clear rules in place before the activity is undertaken it is easier for the kids to follow the rules. If you are going to let your kids have playdates than it is only fair to explain to them what the expectations are of them while they are there and when it is time to leave. It doesn't sound to me like this whole affair was well planned and maybe you just need to let this one go and try again another day. That is one of the best things about children their ability to forgive and move on. Sometimes as parents we need to follow their lead.

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  36. Each kid is different, so the same technique won't work for all 4 of them. If missing a meal works, then go for it! Missing dinner won't scar a kid, a stick will.

    As for all the people giving you crap about playdates, it sounds like you are on the right track. They didn't leave the last one in a calm dignified manner, so I would hesitate to send them off again for awhile.

    In your situation, I would have separated them on arriving home, asked them to tell you in their own words how they behaved, and asked them what they thought their punishment should be. Usually it is way worse than what you would have done anyway :)

    I don't understand why people are so against spankings. If they work and are done in a loving way to teach a lesson, not relieve your anger, no harm. No foul. I turned out okay!

    Don't worry about the haters. You obviously love those kiddos and are doing a great job. Everyone has opinions, but in the end, they are yours. You worked really hard to bring them into this world and are the experts on them. Your heart is your best guide.

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  37. So you turned what should have been a fun right of passage - first playdate without you - into a negative disaster. You need therapy. You are neurotic.

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  38. oh boy, been there! With my oldest two there would have been spanking for sure and grounding. I changed my ways with the youngest. She has been the good one, and never done that although her sisters certainly did, many times. So with her a stern voice and a look would suffice. But she would have lost all kinds of things. I am interested in what you did, cause I am sure I would have done the same:) They are almost 14 and 15 1/2 now, whole different set of tantrums.

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  39. OK non parent speaking here but even I who am usually on your side think you went a litte over the edge on this one.

    I can understand your concern but when you saw the kids were having a great time in a safe environment, well let's just say I'd have taken up your kind neighbors offer to bring them home in an hour.

    If I were you I'd pick up the phone or even better go visit the neighbor is person and explain your concerns that neither you or Charlie had met her and your philosphy about playdates.

    Jen - take a deep breath and MELLOW

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  40. Michelle M in TX11/21/10, 4:23 PM

    Girl, we've all been there. You just have been blessed to receive that disrespect times three. I've heard that spanking is Biblical and best done not in anger. I don't have control if I'm angry so I don't spank (not that I haven't tried it once or twice - it didn't work). I do the taking away privileges and time outs. So far the thing that works the best has been being consistent with discipline. I'm not good at that, but have been working on it b/c the alternative is annoying at 4 1/2 yrs old. It's when he's 14 yrs old that I'm more concerned about...so I'm working on being more consistent now before the problems get bigger. Good luck! Best, Michelle

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  41. Oh Jen, I can see you are under a ton of stress. I am so there with you on being over-protective ad nauseum . . . but what you just described was disorganized, illogical and futile. (all of which I can stuggle with as well) I think it would be OK to admit that this has been a doosey of a year, and that your kids are in new territory and maybe seek counselling.


    What would I have done? Well, I wouldn't have bombed their play date, even though I would not have been 100% comfortable either. I probably would have left them . . . however, when if I had made the hasty decision to show up early and unannounced and thrown down that the children needed to prepare to leave . . . then I agree, they need to obey.

    Ideally you would have sweetened the pot for them in some way . . .basically put the carrot out, offered a small bribe if you will, since it was obviously inconsiderate to do what you did.

    If that still didn't work, your choices seemed to me to try to forcibly carry one at a time to the car or retreat and ask the gal to bring them over later.

    The disciplining for not obeying ... I am a huge advocate for spanking, but not sure this is an effective situation to do it in. I would have to think about it . . . it would probably either be practicing coming when I call them about 300 times, the more inconveient the better or doing chores around the house or skipping something they want to do because "I don't want to have to worry about them not leaving when I ask them to"

    Natalie

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  42. BTW - even if you retreated to avoid a scene, you could have still employed consequences later.

    Natalie

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  43. If it had been me, I would have left them at my neighbor's house. Let 'em play. Let kids be kids. The triplets obviously weren't getting into trouble or hanging like Tarzan from a ceiling fan. They were enjoying the newness of playing with your neighbor's daughter and acting like the children you raised. Respectful. Fun. Enjoyable. And they were together, which had been your main argument for denying them the opportunity to attend the other play dates.

    I read your blog often and typically agree with you. On this issue, however, I don't. I've tried, but I can't. You have three very wonderful and charming children who are being too tightly held back by their parents. Their behavior at your neighbor's house was perhaps their plea to have some freedom away from your protective bubble. It's time to start letting them go... just a little bit.

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  44. I will write how I handled this situation later.

    But for now, I think it's important to add that I didn't "crash" their play date. It's not like they arrived and 10 minutes later I'm there to pick them up. They were there for ONE HOUR, which is plenty of time to play and exchange pleasantries when you are six.

    We've participated in NUMEROUS play dates before, and I've consistently found that any time >60 minutes, children start to get wild.

    Also, when I arrived and rang the doorbell, I stood and talked to the mother for a solid 15 minutes before I even went to collect the kids. They knew that I was there. I didn't breeze in to the house, tell the kids we were LEAVING and let's go! They heard me talking and tell the neighbor that I would be bringing them home.

    Moreover, I gave them an opportunity to wrap up what they were doing. Guys, you've got an X minute warning. Yes, usually this would start out with 10 minutes, down to 5 ... 3 and so on ... but my husband had a dentist appointment and I had to be home before he left, since Henry was napping.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY, and maybe this is what makes me the meanest mommy in the whole wide world, if I tell the kids it's time to go?

    IT'S TIME TO GO.

    END OF STORY.

    Yes, everything IS negotiable, but I'll tell you what: My children stand a much better chance of soliciting a POSITIVE response from me if they demonstrate a COOPERATIVE behavior.

    When they flip out and kick someone's couch, you can bet your bottom dollar their fun is OVER and there is no way on God's green earth that I'd let them stay for another second.

    Also, to anyone who suggested that I pick the kids up, one by one and carry them out to the car? That would be a great idea, if 1) my children weren't too heavy for me to carry them one by one (when's the last time you tried to carry a 60-pound child who is kicking their feet?) and 2) I truly did have a handicap, seeing as my hands were wrapped in bandages and my foot was in a brace.

    LodyP, if I'm going to get bashed, you're going to get bashed, too. We're in this together, sister!!

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  45. PS: Anon @ 3:47 > this wasn't their FIRST unaccompanied play date, nor did I turn it in to a negative disaster. As far as I'm concerned, I turned it in to a positive learning opportunity.

    They've played before, without me or my husband, with my good friend, Debbie, and her triplet boys. The difference between now and then is that my children have known Debbie for their entire lives, I completely trust her and also, I know she is fully capable of handling triplets.

    Me, psycho on the loose?

    FAR from it.

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  46. Since the triplets started school, you know I have been doing a neighborhood kid-watching co-op with Austin's classmates and other neighborhood kids, so that we parents can all take turns having a whole day off.

    As long as the other children's parents are not around, their children are fantastic at my house. My neighbor Dawn dropped her three year old off on his first day in underwear and the kid didn't even have an accident. She had to DRAG HIM HERE kicking and screaming, but the minute she left, he morphed into the most pleasant three year old I have ever seen.

    Your fear that your neighbor couldn't "handle" your children are completely distorted. Your children are going to be FINE if you aren't around. They save their very "best and most special" behavior for US, the parents.

    I sure hope you didn't burn that bridge with your neighbor. You are not trusting these people, so why should they trust YOU to send their kids to YOUR house? Trust is a two way street.

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  47. In the absence of personal injury, carry them out one by one is exactly what I'd have done, when faced with the alternative of watching them carry on in the manner you have decribed. I'm no heavy weight-far from it-but you bet I could muster the strength to carry 3 60 pounders one by one(adrenalin does that to me) rather then allow that behavior to continue. I'm not saying it'd be a tender carry. I'm talking arms under the shoulders "I will remove you from this situation/the house is burning" kind of carry. With personal injury, I'm sure I'd have persuaded mine to leave on their own two feet with perhaps a little help from my hand to their arm.

    Once you propose that "now is the time to leave" and you get that behavior, you cannot turn back or you've just reinforced/rewarded them for being naughty. So I agree with you on that.

    You asked us to spill the beans, what would "I" have done, right? "All the details" right??? There you have it! If you ask, you need to be ready to hear the answers, otherwise it's just all drama...and I hate drama.

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  48. It did seem as though your neighbor was handling the triplets, right? At least you know that you can start with her house for playdates. It also seemed like Charlie was comfortable with the situation so that's something also. Not to minimize your own discomfort but those are two positives in this situation.

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  49. Michele - that's a load of honky. This neighbor is totally new to us. How well she could handle THREE kids, was not something that I was willing to guess on.

    Let me build a relationship. Let me see, firsthand, that she has a "stable" personality. Let me develop my comfort factor with her watching MY children without me in attendance. AND THEN, maybe.

    Burn a bridge? Hell no! Although, I'm not really sure how I would have burned a bridge after showing up after ONE hour to retrieve my kids?! I was at her house last night, drinking wine and swapping stories until 11:30. Her daughter was at our house, yesterday, eating chocolate chip cookies. And today, we saw her again, along with FOUR other neighborhood kids who came to our house and spent close to two hours trying on costumes and putting on impromptu performances.

    The fact that we have a friendship should not dictate me leaving my CHILDREN under her sole supervision. Just because I like someone / vice versa / doesn't mean that we should or could leave our children alone with them.

    Seriously!! Trust is earned, not an automatic privilege!!!

    Anon: Bwahaha!!! You hate drama and you're reading THIS blog??

    Oh Dear. You've come to the wrong place.

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  50. ooh the 'completely ignore' thing. that would make me SO ANGRY. so angry and - important data point -I don't have children. But this is an issue I feel very strongy about.

    As for the others who have mentioned that the decisions you made regarding this play date may have been unreasonable THAT IS COMPLETELY BESIDE THE POINT. It's not a democracy. You are the boss. When you ask your children to obey a request it shouldn't matter if that request is timely or reasonable, it should matter THAT THEY OBEY.

    They are too young to decide which of your requests they would like to listen to. It's not optional. Ignoring 'we're leaving now, put your shoes on' shouldn't be let go 'because their kids'.

    What if it was ignoring 'you must never go home from school someone who isn't mum or dad'. They cannot use their judgement about whether or not to obey. It's too dangerous!!!!

    Wilful disobedience is, I think, the most serious form of bad behaviour because it is not SAFE (as in the case of the stick incident). I have absolutely no idea what I would do if I was in your situation, but whatever it is you decided on, it would't have been an over-reaction.

    For the official record, I have been following your blog since the absolute beginning, and I think you're doing a fantastic job both with the blog and with your kids!

    - Uschka

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  51. I laughing. . . . I'm not sure why I'm laughing . . . I'm just laughing really hard right now . . ..

    Yours!
    Jessica

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  52. Ok . . . I think I know why I'm laughing now. . . . you know I love you guys . . and I mean this in the nicest-super-nicest way . . . . but I think I'm laughing because these posts read like its the worlds biggest privilege to have your kiddos over for a playdate! A privilege that has to be "earned" . . . which is just funny to me because I think what is basically happening is these neighbor kids or classmates or whatever are saying to their parents "can so and so come over to play" (William, Carolyn, Elizabeth - whoever) and their parents are saying "sure I'll ask their parents" . . . and then this starts this whole thing in motion on the other end at your guys house with the do-we/don't we/all go/none go/parents go/no one goes/we're ready/not ready/etc. etc.. . . and really . . . . on the other end of this philosophical parenting dilemma there is a just some 5 year old kid who wants to invite a friend over to play . .

    OK . . . this message will self destruct in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 . . . . . .

    Any malice felt toward the writer of this message should be tempered by the fact that she just returned from the 3 day 60 miler and needs some rest . . . and a beer!

    Yours!

    Jessica

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  53. Jen- then it totally sounds to me like you are making the right moves.

    However, since I LIKE drama, let me point out that you had FOUR children in your house for two hours. Were their parents with them? Can you BELIEVE people just TRUST YOU???? Those people must be INSANE.

    What you gotta say about that? HUH?

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  54. You don't "know" her enough to trust your kids there? Evidently Charlie did.
    Kids pick up on when the parents are at issues on stuff. Charlie let them go, you show up and cut it short. Believe me, they probably KNEW you wouldn't have let them go to begin with. They reacted like any normal kid...completely frustrated.
    Did they not go to preschool and face these issues at 3 and 4 yrs old? That may be part of the problem too. I bet most of the kids that are inviting them etc went to preschool and have been having playdates with new friends for 3 yrs, as have the parents.
    I agree with some of the other posts, you need to lighten up on these kids.
    You think kicking the sofa is bad? If you dont' start being less controling and more flexible, these kids are going to fight you all the way thru college!
    My father use to always say, you can't blame kids, they are still learning. Its the parents who should know better.

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  55. Oh yeah - last comment from a fatigued sleep deprived 3 day walker who walked in THE RAIN for 2 hours today . . . . . I realize some people spank their kids and that's their business . . . .but anyone who actually describes themselves as a "HUGE ADVOCATE FOR SPANKING" . . . . should not be trusted! That's just weird.

    OK - that's all -
    J

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  56. Okay - this is really it - and then I'm shutting up but I keep reading the posts (I'm reading them backwards)and I'm kinda shocked. . . . but wholly crap the spanker posters on this thread . . .the ritualistic "I will beat you when I've calmed down" spanker. . . the crazy Dobson-spanker (my wonderful sister-in-law gave me that book once up on a time) -- he's the "spank your child in the name of the lord" advocate . . the "bare butt spanker" . . . . good grief . . . .seriously?? Seriously? . .. Have we heard from the "go cut me a switch from the willow-tree" spanker yet? How about the belt-buckle "this will hurt you more than it hurts me" spanker!

    Come on?

    Jane Nelson - positive discipline lady - has a great article on this topic. I'm glad your sis gave you the book. I loved it.

    Jessica

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  57. Michele - as for the four kids today, the parents were here WITH them. To date, no one has left their children with US.

    There's no way we'd take them!!!

    What do you think we are?

    CRAZY?!

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  58. Jen Have I taught you nothing???? "The spatular with the holes for the blood to come out." Works every time

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  59. So the situation you stated would have had me seeing red too. I probably would have had a long talk with them, told them I was seriously disappointed in them and then imposed some sort of punishment. I would have definitely made them apologize to the mother. I'm not sure where I stand on spanking...not opposed, but have not yet had to do it. My twins are 8, but the most mellow children on the planet, so no need to spank yet. A stern look still works with them. My 3 yr old and 15 month old are another story. Something tells me I have a much higher chance of needing to spank them one day!!!

    Another thought, about the sticks, would be to google "stick, eye accidents" or something like that and see if you can find some pictures that aren't too graphic, but would have an impact on the kids. Sticks and eyes are nothing to mess around with and maybe some pictures would have a more lasting effect.

    And finally, I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but since you have decided to forgo playdates where you and Charlie are not in attendance, you could use that to your advantage and tell the kids "because of the way you acted, you will not be able to go on playdates by yourself. Your dad or I will have to be with you". It's not entirely truthful, but could be effective!

    I am interested to see what you did!!!

    Kelly(Houston)

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  60. I wanted to add to my previous comment, that to me the "worst" part of the whole playdate was not that they didn't listen and didn't want to leave, that's not completly uncommon for being in a new house with new toys, etc...(just for you it was x3). It's that when they saw you bandaged up with a brace on your leg and in obvious pain, they were STILL not cooperative. I would think that the shock of seeing you that way would have been enough to get them moving and I think more than being angry (and I certainly would have been that!), my feelings would have been a little hurt. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, just wanted to add that!

    Kelly(Houston)

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  61. Loving the discussion. Mine isn't quite 2 yet, and I am only half-way through Positive Discipline, so I am mining for ideas. I absolutely love the idea of having them draw/write an apology letter and hand-deliver it to the other family. However, I am not quite sure how that works with a three-some, since part of the point is the embarassment of fessing up to their shameful behavior and their siblings provide a buffer against that lonely embarassment. Regardless, it seems a great idea that I hadn't thought of, and seems entirely consistent with the PD approach, if you can just refrain from wringing any little necks before they get their letters written ...

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  62. Whoo boy, talk about a can of worms. Brave of you for being open enough to ask for opinions.

    I won't address the should you or shouldn't you have picked them up, because you HAD to get them home because Charlie had to go. I also wouldn't want someone I'd just met trying to wrangle three kids home, and I'm WAY more relaxed about playdates than you are.

    The strategy I use when my children don't listen to me when it's time to go is that if they don't obey me right now, they will not be invited back to this house. This doesn't rule out that child coming to our house, so we're not killing a friendship, but they can't go to that friend's house, which is way more fun anyway.

    I am also a yeller. We give one warning, and then things get loud and consequences occur immediately. It helps to not be embarrassed to pull out the full on mommy-crazy yell in front of other people, because it really mortifies my children and they now know I'll do it.

    Lastly, I'm not above appealing to the other grown-up for assistance. Which, frankly, unless you left that part out, I'm surprised she didn't jump in to help. When someone is crying about leaving when they're at my house, I tell them myself that I can't have them back if they don't listen to their mother when it's time to go.

    As for the consequences once you got them in the car, I would have been completely silent on the drive home, ignoring any questions or comments from them. When they got home, they would be sent straight to their rooms. Once I was calm, I would go in and explain to them that I was extremely disappointed in their behavior, and that they were going to write an apology to the mom and the friend, explaining exactly what they did wrong. Also, I would have them go back and fix the flower beds. manual labor is my kids' worst nightmare. And it would be made clear to them that no more playdates were going to occur for a good long time because of the way they behaved.

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  63. The strategy I use when my children don't listen to me when it's time to go is that if they don't obey me right now, they will not be invited back to this house. This doesn't rule out that child coming to our house, so we're not killing a friendship, but they can't go to that friend's house, which is way more fun anyway.

    I am also a yeller. We give one warning, and then things get loud and consequences occur immediately. It helps to not be embarrassed to pull out the full on mommy-crazy yell in front of other people, because it really mortifies my children and they now know I'll do it.

    Lastly, I'm not above appealing to the other grown-up for assistance. Which, frankly, unless you left that part out, I'm surprised she didn't jump in to help. When someone is crying about leaving when they're at my house, I tell them myself that I can't have them back if they don't listen to their mother when it's time to go.

    As for the consequences once you got them in the car, I would have been completely silent on the drive home, ignoring any questions or comments from them. When they got home, they would be sent straight to their rooms. Once I was calm, I would go in and explain to them that I was extremely disappointed in their behavior, and that they were going to write an apology to the mom and the friend, explaining exactly what they did wrong. Also, I would have them go back and fix the flower beds. manual labor is my kids' worst nightmare. And it would be made clear to them that no more playdates were going to occur for a good long time because of the way they behaved.

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  64. Role play, role play, role play and model, model, model. Make sure to model appropriate behavior and inapproriate behavior as well. I'm a former teacher and I did this often with my class. Maybe you and Charlie could "act out" the leaving play date scene again and model how it should have played out. Let the kids take turns being you. Try different situations. Try and make it fun, but be firm on your expectations and consequences. Good luck! This parenting stuff is NOT easy!

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  65. Jen,

    One of the the things I love about you is that you just open yourself right up there! I nearly choked on my coffee when you asked for advice on discipline....you are a braver woman than I.

    Anyway, my two cents worth. I think there are two issues here: what might be done differently next time to stop the escalation and then if the prevention doesn't work, then what will you do.

    It sounds like you were taken by surprise and therefore, didn't have a plan in place. Yeah, happens to me too.

    The rational, thinking, well-rested, prepared me would have had an extraction plan in place. Maybe taken the time to get to know the mom for a few minutes while giving lots of countdown warnings. Not sure, but where they walking distance neigbhours? Maybe they could have walked home with the other mom and you could have had snacks ready for them at home. Anyway, no need to belabour the specifics as I'm sure you have your own tricks.

    Then, if the predicted meltdown did occur, then I might have walked away, had a quiet pow-wow to the other mom about a plan of attack. Frankly, given your physical state, I might have gone home to stay with HEnry and sent Charlie over to get them. That's what mum and dad teams are for!

    We don't spank, and I firmly disagree with it, but I see how it happens and I don't think it is the worst parenting sin in the book. Being cold, unloving and uncaring is WAAAYYY worse in my opinion.

    Tricks we have used in this instance: strategic ignoring. We just pretend the tantrum is not happening. Get everything ready to go, physically get the child, put them in the car, say bye-bye to friends, get home, let them out of car, let them get over it, make a phone call to other mother to apologise. It runs so counter to all that our culture tells us to do in the face of 'defiance' and 'disobediance' and you know I'm not American and I have a different take on things than people in your culture. But, tantrums in our house HAVE NO EFFECT. They change nothing for the good or the bad. Life just goes on, tantrum or not, and they soon disappear. Even negative attention is good attention to an out of control child.

    Anyway, you are such a brave woman opening up like this. Can't wait to see the responses! Hope your injuries are feeling better.

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  66. I'd have offered a bribe- an icecream from the shops, or a mcdonalds happy meal or something, as well as an apology and an acknowledgements that I was picking them up earlier than they expected.

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  67. What would I have done?? humm
    as a parent of 2 kids at a preschool that practices to a T, Positive Discipline, and tries its hardest to teach us parents how it really works, and trying to remind myself that when the screaming meltdowns occur.... and knowing that it never works during tantrums. ever.

    I think what I really would have done is to go straight home, make Charlie cancel his dentis appointment, and make him go get the trips while I put my aching body to rest.
    That option aside, I think if I were trying to get 3 kids into one car, I probably would have done exactly what you did, kids, kicking couch, barbie road trip and all, up until they were all finally in the car. Then I would have made the kids wait a minute while I talked to the mom some more and begged off with an apology about being in pain, needing to get home, and asking (1) what can our family do to apologize for the plants and (2)can we do a play date re-do when you are feeling better.

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  68. I have been reading your blog for a while now and I find it funny and refreshing.

    As a child (like 10-15 yrs old) I was spanked, bare bottom, with a leather belt. To this day I remember what it felt like... and now that I have children of my own, I would never use a belt. But I do feel that sometimes a spanking is necessary. (As one mother pointed out, when the child is in immediate danger, or being defiant.)I have been reading over some of the other comments and agree with some of the things a couple of ladies have said. I think that the triplets should and need to apologize to the mother for their behavior and for running over her plants.

    As a teenage, I still had problems with taking out the trash, and my mother was tired of having to remind me over and over again, that she finally told me that I had to take out 3 of our neighbors trash!!! Talk about embarrassing!!
    Needless to say that I never forgot to take out the trash again. With that said, I think that the triplets should also help clean up the garden incident. They made the mess and they are old enough to help clean it up and take responsibility for their actions.

    As for going to bed without dinner, I really dont think that one time or a couple of times is going to hurt them. They wont starve, I know I didnt lol... though I was really hungry the next day!

    I think you are doing a great job and I cant wait to read what happens next!!

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  69. I am with anonymous at 9:11 pm, I think the stick is the answer:). JK, in all seriousness I have a younger brother who knocked his front teeth out while playing with a stick, he had to get implants so...I too am very scared when a child gets a stick (this said by a women who has bought tons of trees to plant in the yard):)

    As for what I would have done. I know I would have popped my children on the behind, then drug them to the vehicle. The blatant disrespect is a no go. Then on the way home I would have tried to calmly say "mommy is going to be very quiet and think about what has just happened and I think you should too, no talking until we get home". The silence was a big clue to my children that I was furious and they were in big trouble. Once home they would go to their room and I would talk to them one at a time. They probably would have stayed there until morning . Not sure what time it was and how much time until regular bedtime though. If too long of a time I probably would have cracked the door and thrown them an apple and banana:) I think they must know that what you say is law.
    The one time I can remember spanking my oldest was while in the car, he unbuckled his carseat...I had told him not to that it was to keep him safe. The first time he did it I buckled him back up...minutes later when he did it again I promptly stopped the car (side of the road) got him out and spanked him. He never did it again. I think if you reserve spanking for what you consider very serious offenses it does have a significant impact on children. Otherwise if you spank at every little thing it has little or no impact at all.

    Whenever you are ready to let your children go on playdates it may be a good time to teach them about time. I would buy them watches and let them know that soon after the first two numbers are 12 it will be time for them to come home. Of course if you could have the adult in on it and "condition" the children, say at 11:00 they could ask them if their watches said 12 yet. I don't know how you handled it but can't wait to find out.

    I think if I was truly in your shoes, hurting, three disrespectful children and a husband who let them go on a playdate when no decision was made on how to handle them going to other houses. I say you should have left them buckled up, got Charlie and sent them with him to his appointment and went and crawled in bed with Henry.

    A last thought, it sounds like you landed in a really great neighborhood, which can be very rare these days. Where when a new family moves in there is an effort to get to know them. I would say you are lucky indeed.
    Kathy

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  70. Actions speak louder than words. I would have asked the other mom to help me make a big deal out of saying it was time to go, getting their coats, shoes. Leading them to the door, putting coats in the foyer/front landing if they weren't putting them on. Leave the door open, start walking to the car. Show them their coats outside, tell them they are in danger of having to walk home alone if they don't get in the car. Get in the car, start it up, have to other mom say goodbye and shut her door. I don't have trips but I have twins and an older all under age 7. They know that when I have them out on my own, they have to cooperate. They don't always, but I do lead them to the natural consequence of their actions. I don't spank but I do yell and I do lose my temper.

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  71. The thing about small children is that they are not rational human beings. Their brains are not yet fully developed, so sometimes it is difficult to change behavior by trying to rationalize with them. One thing kids do remember is something that hurts. The hurt can be a toy that was taken away, going to their room, losing privileges (tv, video games, etc.), going to bed without dinner (for major offenses like your stick incident), or a sting on the bottom. I'm not talking about BEATINGS. I'm talking about just enough of a tap to teach the child a lesson. Our son has been spanked all of 3 times in his life, which were for the most major offenses. That has been enough to change his behavior. He feels safe knowing that he can predict what will happen if he chooses inappropriate behavior. He is not afraid of us, but he respects authority. He also knows that we recognize, appreciate and reward good behavior. Good behavior = happy parents = happy children.

    Last year we did have one experience like yours at the friend's house. It was his first time at someone else's house and he got overly excited. His behavior was not up to our standards, so we had him write a letter to the parent of the other child that night. After dinner we took him over there and had him read it to her and apologize. I called the parent ahead of time to ask her to help us make this a good learning experience for our son, which she did. We haven't had that problem since.

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  72. Um...reading some of the comments made me laugh. Especially talking/explaining to them about their behavior/how you feel. In that moment, they DONT CARE. Its a power struggle and bless you, yours was X3!!! We have taken things away and that doesn't seem to phase our little one. He PEED in his toy box so we took it and he could care less!

    Oh, we do spank. We talk and time out first, but sometimes the only thing that gets through is a tap on the rear end.

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  73. I'm not keeping tabs, although, if I were, I'd guess that I've deleted at least 40 comments on this post in the past 24 hours.

    In the event you left a comment and are wondering why it didn't show up, here are the DIRECTIONS in case you missed them, first time around.

    "WHAT WOULD YOU DO?"

    This isn't about "psychotic" ME, and all the ways I'm failing myself, my children, my family and society (thanks for letting me know, crikey, it's no wonder I'm not in an institution!)

    This is about YOU. What would YOU do in the event that there were THREE six-year-olds throwing a fit at the same time?

    If you cannot stay ON TOPIC, you cannot play. First offense, deletion. Second offense, time out. Third offense, I'm pulling out my Aunt Grace's blood spatula.

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  74. Whip out the bloody spatula, cuz this is the most fun your blog has been since you were potty training and washing your kids in the sink. The sink was my personal favorite thus far. Remember the horror? Ho could you?

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  75. I'm the Crazy Dobson spanker, I guess, and I won't bother to defend my position other than to state that we spanked very rarely.

    The end result is what matters, and at 16 and 19, my children get many many compliments on what amazing young adults they are. Isn't that our goal and one reason you ask for advice - to make our children pleasant, productive members of society?

    Too bad, Jen, that one of your rules isn't "don't call other commenters names." Especially those who have not resorted to that tactic against you or your other readers.

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  76. Wow. I NEVER leave comments, but I can't resist contributing to this great discussion. I have 6 year old twins and can totally relate.

    Trying to leave the playdate, I think I would have 1) done exactly what you did as you left and felt exactly as frustrated, angry and embarrassed.

    Rather than scream bloody murder in the car on the way home, I HOPE I would have remained totally quiet and not spoken to them at all. Like other commenters - I would have sent them to their rooms and then come back once calm and very firmly spoken to them about their behavior and the consequence would have been staying in their rooms until bedtime. I would have given them each a peanut and butter sandwich and fruit and milk to eat in their room. MAYBE if they acted okay I would do our usual bedtime routine of reading three books before lights out - MAYBE.

    My son thrives on attention, both good and bad and I have found that isolating him makes the biggest impression.

    So easy to say what I would do in a hypothetical situation, right? There has been a lot of great advice here - I do believe in role playing situations and modeling. I have found the bathtub to be a good time to role play using toy dinasoars or whatever is around. They do separate baths now and I can kind of capture their attention and address specific situations.

    Can't wait to hear what you did! I love your blog.

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  77. I've had older children now but this happened several time with my children. I foung that my kids would listen to the other parent (play date mom) more than to me. So I would have gone in to see how they were doing, meet the parent, assess the situation and then give them a time; 30 minutes. at this point I would have left and let the other mom bring them home. If that doesn't work for you andother suggestion would be to put some "clean up" musec on and sing and clean up together. Then the play date mom should thank your kids for coming and play on having another play date. Then when home you need to establish play date rules. Explain and refer to them often especially before leaving for a play date. Have some positive reward if they all follow the rules when they come home. This all looks good in theory. There will be times when nothing works. I've resorted to bribes; 'ice cream on the way home'! they are just testing their independence and your temper. Spanking will NOT help. It never does. It only releases your fustrations; it doesn't get the point across to kids. Rewards and consequences are the best way. Make a plan and make sure all the kids know the consequences. Then follow through. Good luck!

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  78. It seems to me that the biggest mistake of the day is that after William had a temper tantrum, you had a temper tantrum.

    Our number one parenting rule is to model the behavior we want. We want our kids to eat vegetables, so we eat vegetables. We want our kids to stay calm even when they are furious, so we try our best to stay calm (at least in front of them).

    One of the things that works for us is to tell the boys what is going to happen -- so, if I were to come pick them up at a playdate, I would say something like "Ok, we are leaving in 5 minutes. I don't want any complaining. Good behavior makes it more like that another playdate will happen sooner." Then, with 3 minutes to go, I would warn them and then with 1 minute to go, I would warn them.

    Counting, in general seems to work pretty well for us. For example, if we call them, they have to the count of three to come.

    There are times where we can't anticipate what will happen, and the goal for us is just to stay calm and be consistent. In your circumstance, we definitely would have just continued to leave the house and if they have a fit, then there will be consequences -- probably a time out in the carseat with one of us standing right outside the car. Just yesterday, I pulled one of my twins out of the bath for splashing after he was warned twice.

    My kids are about the same age, and we don't spank and so far we haven't withheld dinner. Dessert, sure, but dinner no. I'm not a big yeller (maybe once every two months), mostly because I don't see what advantage it gives me.

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  79. Yeah, I've been there with my two. I would have (and have) done the same thing. The "mama van tirade" I call it. They are in a closed environment. They listen.

    And I've sent both kids to bed without dinner twice, I think. It doesn't feel good, but it gets the point across. At that point I haven't wanted to eat my dinner either.

    As soon as you figure out how to "better" handle these types of situations, please do share! I have a six-year-old and a four-year-old, btw.

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  80. Okay, this time I did spit my drink.

    Aunt Grace - "spatula with holes for the blood" - sheer brilliance.

    Now I know where you get your inner crazy woman from Jen!

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  81. HW: sorry if one got through to upset you. I really do try to moderate even those comments that attack others and not just me. Which, believe me, if you could see some of the comments I receive you'd probably keel over. It's a wonder how my children have survived to six I'm doing such a crappy job!! Really, if these are the criticisms I'm getting and our children haven't even been in school for three months, imagine what'll happen once they get in to the "grades"!

    Oh well, there's always Henry. Hopefully, I'll get a clue before I mess up another of my children's lives!

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  82. Jen -
    You owe me no apology.

    I don't even know why that comment upset me so much today. I guess, like this whole discussion, it is about our parenting choices, the job we do as parents and ultimately, how our kids end up. I'm nearly at the end of a vital chapter of my parenting book and though I've made mistakes, I'm silly enough to some times lie in bed at night and think "Wow, I think we might have done okay..." (Now watch those word come back to bite me in the butt.) Emotions are running high with us right now as we are also in the beginning of a new phase with our own kids. See, the need to adjust never ends when you are a mom.

    For the record, I was also taken aback at the commenter who called you neuorotic and said you needed therapy.

    And for Jessica, who called me crazy, at least she was bold enough to sign her name. I do admire that.

    See? I really do try to see the positive in everything these days.

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  83. Instead of rushing there and demanding to take your children home you should have taken this opportunity to get to know this Mom. If your kids were too much for her she would have called Charlie. What's your issue with letting your child go??/ Did something happen to you as a kid?? Also, once you were there you needed to give them more time to prepare to leave. They were having a blast and you pulled them away from that. They were angry with you and acted that out. In my eyes, you were in the wrong and not your children.

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  84. i don't think anyone without triplets can condem what you did at all, wrangling one child is a whole different ball game.i expect your children are very aware they have you outnumbered!Everyone loses their temper you wouldn't be human otherwise.we can only learn from experiences and you did all the right things by the sounds of it warnings etc, they would probably have been the same after a 5 hour playdate children don't want fun to end.sometimes we all have to do things we don't want to that's life! keep up the good work you sound a fun mum

    Donna (uk)

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  85. I realize I am late to this convo and I hope I am not deleted b/c I have nothing novel to add on how I would have dealt with this situation, other than to say, I would not spank.

    And this is why.

    My son is autistic. But I didn't know that when he was 18 months. Or two years old. Or even three years old (he just turned 5 years old). His autism was not so severe that he couldn't talk (although he has huge expressive language issue), but he definitely had (and continues to have) major issues with receptive language. Google it, "receptive language autism".

    I didn't understand it myself until he was diagnosed. And all of sudden, his "willful", "stubborn", "spoiled", "terrible" behavior made sense. I still suffer over my memories of spanking him so HARD when he would keep pouring water out of the tub onto the bathroom floor when he was only 2. Knowing what I know now, if only I could do it all over. I pray he doesn't remember.

    I know this advice doesn't apply to you, Jen, as your kids are now 6 and they are not autistic, but for anyone else who reads your blog whose child is younger, please, please think twice before spanking them.

    There are other ways to get the message across. If there ever was a way to confuse a child (autistic or not), it is to subject them to violence (which is what spanking is, sorry, no other way to define it)while insisting that they do otherwise (use your gentle hands).

    Thanks for reading; so sorry the kids are giving you a hard time about this!

    JDinTLH

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  86. Jen, I probably would have done the same thing as you. Not the ideal situation, but flat out defiance and tantrum throwings are just not acceptable behaviors in our home. I came from an abused childhood, so spanking was always on my NO list. Until I had a three year old. It's a necessary evil sometimes. :-( I hate it, but it's effective in the right circumstance.

    One thing I will mention though that is worth a bit of advice: get some rest.

    I have made the choice to stay home (and drain our savings - eeps) and quit my well-paying FT job three months ago. I'm shocked at how tiring it is to be a FT SAHM mommy. The nights I don't get rest, you can guarantee that the next day will be hard on me and the boys. My tolerance is lower and the boys thrive on pushing my buttons. They know my weaknesses so much more. Strange, but true.

    I know that you have a lot on your plate and it's hard to prioritize. But, even if you can't eliminate anything off your to-do list, just know until it's gone, these situations might be more regular. You're revamping an old home, raising children, working a high profile NEW job, attempting to make new friends, find new doctors, dentists, etc. Your lack of rest is probably killing you on all these fronts.

    Make a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. The house will still need paint next month and if you're in that neighborhood for a few years, you have plenty of time to make new friends and neighbors. I hate to say it, because I totally feel like your mother. But you aren't taking care of yourself. I don't even know you and it shows through your words. Get some rest. Eat better. Drinks lots of water. Get more rest.

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  87. Jen!

    Listen to Dr Ray Guarendi it will help you so much! Here is the web site. http://www.drray.com He is on the radio and has books too. This man is a real father of 10 adopted children.

    Spanking...Yes! after a cool down. You hope! Hard to remember sometimes. You will not upset their self esteem. That is silly...I often wonder if the people that write these parenting books have children in the first place.

    Before I take parenting advice I want to know 4 things: 1.)Does this person have children 2.)How many children do they have? 3.) Do these children live with them or an X?...Did they raise the children? 4.) How old are the children? and what do the children do now.

    Your kids are not bad kids. In my opinion their smart. In this incident ~ They were very naughty. They looked at you and thought "What is she going to do? She is hurt and this lady is here...Just look at her. She can't move! We win!"

    Carolyn's Smirking ~ Ugggg not a fan of the smirking myself...She got ya. So what! It happens to us all. It's called parenting! It's not for weak! Sometimes you win, sometimes you have to step back and regroup... more often then you want too. Regrouping is okay, it's part of life.

    talk to you soon!

    Love me

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  88. I just have to say that I love that you are as "psychotic" as my husband and I are. And rightly so.

    As a former CPS worker in San Diego, you have no idea the number of cases that came across my desk - never published to the community as a whole - involving young children and neighbors or family friends.

    As a parent of four, all under five - you can bet that based on my experience - my children will never attend a playdate alone to a family that my husband and I don't know extensively. I don't want to be a statistic, and I NEVER want say, "if I had only...".

    It's great that some of your readers are perfectly comfortable sending their children to stranger's homes, simply because they appear to be perfectly capable parents. But appearances can be deceiving. If someone else is more comfortable with doing that - more power to them. However, I consider being called overprotective a compliment.

    In terms of this situation - you did what you could at the time. I would have most likely handled it the same way... seething the whole time and being incredibly embaressed by my children's behavior. I would have tried to be as rational as possible... but that's not always an option ;)

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  89. I sure hope all those ugly comments that some people think they need to leave.......doesn't scare you off from continuing to blog.

    It is too bad that there are those that can't just answer the question: "what would you do" as opposed to attacking you.....

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  90. What really surprises me is how many here advocate spanking. I am all for it as well, I turned out well with just a few instances of spanking, but it seems like it's such a taboo thing anymore and everyone is afraid to admit they do it. It's interesting to see how many support it!

    I'm not even a mother, just a teacher, and I want to pull my hair out all the time! I think you've gotten some great advice and can't wait to see how you handled it.

    And I'm glad a follow up visit with the neighbor (and wine!) went well!

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  91. HW -

    Sorry for the offense. Spanking is a very charged topic (Jenna's seen me go a few rounds on it before so I am sure she is NOT surprised) - and I guess I was shocked to see the comments on this thread seemed to me to be shockingly predominately "spank 'em" comments? I did not feel the situation Jenna was writing about was that severe - so I was especially shocked to see the go-to spanking suggestions abound in such a scenario? I have 5 year old triplets myself (and an older child) and feel I have a pretty good understanding of the special kind of stress they can invoke . . . . and the situation was a bummer for sure. . .but not the worst either . . . IMHO

    Anyway, Dobson is a hot button for me. We will likely never change each others minds - but that book went right in the trash in my house - literally, it is probably the only book I have ever actually thrown away. And I will note that it was given to me by a beloved and wonderful sister-in-law who herself is a wonderful mother who I admire greatly . . . so there you go . .

    In any event, I note you said you spanked very rarely and that your kids have turned out great. I leave you with one thought - perhaps it was not the rare spankings your children received from you that turned them out so well - but perhaps it was everything else you are doing that yielded those results. You must just be a good mother . . . .

    Jessica

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  92. I already responded once, but I wanted to get back to something that Jenn Mc said: "Um...reading some of the comments made me laugh. Especially talking/explaining to them about their behavior/how you feel. In that moment, they DONT CARE. Its a power struggle and bless you, yours was X3!!! We have taken things away and that doesn't seem to phase our little one."
    I totally agree with that if you are talking about right at the moment where they are being the most naughty. However, I think most of us who advocated using guilt trips were talking about later once the kids were in the car or at home. Two of my three kids feel HORRIBLE when they realize that they've done something to make me sad and it's a powerful motivator for next time around. (The other one, not so much, but he's really easy to motivate with 'no video games' most of the time).
    (and btw, I'm not a 'never-spanker' either, though I've found for me personally that once I allow spanking to be a part of the arsenal I had a hard time not doing it when I was angry. )

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  93. [Part 1] Jen, I just want to say that I'm a long time reader and have commented many times before but because I don't want pro-spanking people to harass me. (It's happened before which is actually fitting of the group's characteristics.) I'm leaving this comment without signing into any of my accounts. I just didn't want you to think that this comment was left anonymous because I didn't believe in it enough to leave my name. I absolutely do. I just don't like the negativity that follows me around because I disagree with someone. On to the comment:

    (Any "you"s used in this comment are not directed to anyone in particular.)

    I'm very anti-spanking. It's something I am extremely passionate about. I have an education in early childhood development and have worked with hundreds of children ranging from six weeks to 12 years old for over a decade. (Not to mention I have two children myself.) I have worked with children whose parent's spanked and those whose didn't. Almost always, the children who were spanked seemed to be a bit more stressed than the children who weren't. They, also, usually hit their peers more often and had all around more behavioral issues than the children who weren't spanked. Violence begets violence. Being violent to another human is disrespectful. Disrespect begets disrespect. So violence also begets disrespect.

    I've always thought that children hit to get their points across and parents should prove that they're better problem solvers and all around smarter than their children and punish in a way that doesn't involve physically harming a child who by the way, in case one forgets, is significantly weaker and smaller than the parent.

    It truly saddens me that there are so many who proudly admit to striking their children. I've had this debate before and I've heard all sorts of excuses from, the Bible says to hit your kids from "I have to show my children that I'm in charge!" Really the reason they spank, weather they realize it or not, is because they have no patience to take a moment and talk with their child and would rather get out their own frustrations and use their hands instead of their words. (The very thing we teach children NOT to do.) Parents can talk themselves into thinking it's for the child's benefit all they want, but the vast amount of evidence says it's not. If it's not the frustrations of the parent and they truly don't spank while angry, then what is stopping them from choosing a proven non-violent form of discipline? Laziness or are they really just hitting because they're angry? It's one or the other. Well actually, it could just be pure ignorance. As if they have never learned anything about basic child development. I'll tell you what spanking is not. It's in no way beneficial to a child and it teaches them nothing but to fear their parents. I prefer my children not to flinch when I'm angry with them.

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  94. [Part 3] I've also heard, "I was spanked and my parents are great parents and I think I deserved all those spankings." Wow! What a coincidence! You just so happen to mimic and agree with the only parenting style you have ever experienced! Come on.

    Another defense of spanking is, "Well, I was spanked as a child and I turned out fine!" Yes, that could be true. There are many people that were raped as children and they turned out fine too. That is hardly a reason to make child rape legal and acceptable.

    I may have forgotten a couple of the pro-spanking excuses I've heard over the years. If so, I'll be glad to inform anyone why their excuse is factually wrong and why hitting a child is never a good thing. If you think it is, please in all seriousness, take a child development or parenting class and not one affiliated with a religious group. Religious holy texts are filled with barbaric parenting rules. A lot of parenting advisement on punishment that the Bible gives, would get you prison time these days. Getting a thorough education in child development prepared me for parenting like nothing else ever could. During those frustrating parenting moments, instead of wanting to hit my child, I have compassion for them. I know what they're thinking and why they have the logic they have. The important thing is that I know it's completely normal. The idea of causing them physical pain for doing something they were built to do, breaks my heart. Here's an example of why an education on child development is imperative to parenting. I had issues with my son lying all the time when he around four years old. I took privileges away and did time outs. Nothing would make him stop lying. I talked with a friend about it who is also educated in early childhood development. She reminded me small children lie because they actually think the lies they tell are actually changing the event. I changed the my approach with my son and explained in detail how a lie is bad and if he did a bad thing, lying will only make everything worse. After a couple of reminders (Small children don't get things immediately so it's important to not hit them because of it.) he stopped lying all the time. Stop being lazy and just talk to your child. If you don't know what to say then research it. Your child acts out of a reason. Figure it out instead of hurting them for it.

    If one continues to spank their children, they need to prepare for the day their child educates themselves and realizes their parents were actually not as great of parents as they thought. Or maybe they'll never educate themselves and just mimic the parenting they experienced and start the cycle of pain and shame with their own children and defend the way they were brought up because they were brainwashed to think bringing pain to someone three times smaller and much weaker than you, is an acceptable act.

    -Bonnie (not my real name)

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  95. [Part 4] Here's an example of why an education on child development is imperative to parenting. I had issues with my son lying all the time when he around four years old. I took privileges away and did time outs. Nothing would make him stop lying. I talked with a friend about it who is also educated in early childhood development. She reminded me small children lie because they actually think the lies they tell are actually changing the event. I changed the my approach with my son and explained in detail how a lie is bad and if he did a bad thing, lying will only make everything worse. After a couple of reminders (Small children don't get things immediately so it's important to not hit them because of it.) he stopped lying all the time. Stop being lazy and just talk to your child. If you don't know what to say then research it. Your child acts out of a reason. Figure it out instead of hurting them for it.

    If one continues to spank their children, they need to prepare for the day their child educates themselves and realizes their parents were actually not as great of parents as they thought. Or maybe they'll never educate themselves and just mimic the parenting they experienced and start the cycle of pain and shame with their own children and defend the way they were brought up because they were brainwashed to think bringing pain to someone three times smaller and much weaker than you, is an acceptable act.

    -Bonnie (not my real name)

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  96. How can anyone tell you what to do? Thankfully I only had one at a time. NOT THREE. who would misbehave.

    They make mistakes. You make mistakes.

    The sticks are definitely out!! AND William calling you names? Oh No! Does he know what you've done for him? YOU carried him and his sisters for 9 months! AND Labored for weeks! YOU were sick! Don't let them forget it!

    Everyone laughs because I tell my sons! It's all about
    R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

    YOU are their Mother. (and Charlie needs to let them know as well) They are Never allowed to talk to you like that! Period.

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  97. Bonnie - I think we're missing Section 2. Please let me know, I like to read what you had to say.

    Anon @ 8.24 - I totally agree about respect, but for the record, I only carried the triplets for 30 weeks. Not quite nine months, but I still gained 100 pounds. And I nursed them until I BLED. So, yes those are all important things to consider.

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  98. My kids are living proof that spanking is not necessary. They are 2 of the most well behaved 5 year-olds I've ever known (pat self on back). (For the record, I made the mistake of spanking them when they were about 2 and HATED the feeling) and knew I would never do it again. Someone here mentioned that "you think they care in that moment when you try to reason with them?"...well maybe not, but I'm sure they'd rather you talk to them then hit them. I'm quite sure they don't care to be hit, even if they aren't following your "logic" every minute of the day. Bonnie is right on.

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  99. Jessica -
    Thanks for the apology - it is accepted. Although I doubt it was actually necessary as you said spanking is a charged subject.

    I certainly don't think spanking made my kids into good young adults, especially since each of them probably received about 6 in their lives. We are parents who disciplined quickly and firmly - usually with fervent talks and clear guidelines on our expectations. We were sure to always do our best to add mercy and quick forgivenss in with our punishment, whether they were four or 18. As they became older we tried to let them know that their mistakes do not make them the person that they are - they will not be defined by their mistakes. However, we made them be accountable.

    The interesting thing is, as spanking comes up on blogs such as this, I will actually ask my kids, "do you feel betrayed or resentful that you were spanked?" And they both kind of laugh and say "uh...no." Perhaps we've just been lucky that we didn't ruin them with those swats on the hind end.

    Bonnie -
    I don't think all children who were spanked are going to end up resenting their parents; althought I do appreciate all the information you have to share. Perhaps our comeuppance is still to be had but our 19-year-old son is in the United States Marine Corps and has every excuse to remove himself from us - due to distance and duty. He, however, calls us frequently, shares his big and little news with us and absolutely ADORES his father - ends every call with "I love you mom and dad" I will confess, also, that I know without a doubt he loves and respects me.

    Bottom line, I think kids can turn out just fine whether they are spanked (in the 'right' way) or not. The priority is discipline of some kind to make them grow up to be pleasant members of society.

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  100. Wow! I can't believe I'm back and that this thread is on my mind so much. I've tried to analyze why this whole thing hits me the way it does.
    I think it's because there is such division among mothers.
    When my kids were little, I absolutely hated being judged by other moms - I always thought "I'm not done; give me time to raise them and then look at the end result." Of course, I was judging them too and I so regret it. In talking to other moms with whom I've walked this parenting journey for all these years, one thing we all seem to agree on is that we regret judging each other; we should have just accepted each others' differences and known we all had our kids' best interest at heart (barring abuse, of course, but that was not something that we were faced with)
    Parenting is so hard without the mommy wars. It's always something with us moms and every topic ignites such passion - breast feeding, working vs non-working, homeschooling, c-sections, spanking, playdates, food choices, the list goes on and on. I think what I see in this thread is so many blanket statements on both sides - and I certainly hope I'm not coming across that way because I don't want to be that way.
    I've seen many kids who were raised in many different ways - kids who have gone from pre-school to high school graduation with my kids. The thing is there are good kids and "not so good kids" coming out of all different homes, regardless of the parents' choice of discipline.

    However you handled the situation that prompted this blog, don't live in regret. If you realized you should have done it differently, then do so next time. If you felt the result was what you wanted and the actions you took were right, stand by your decision.

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  101. I would have spanked them. sorry but that kind of disrespect deserves a consequence that they can understand. you can't explain how you felt about it, that isnt a consequence to them! they arent going to understand the situation or "your side". thats absolutely silly to think that could ever work. real consequences. spank.

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  102. I sort of dislike these can of worm topics, but in the interest of the outside chance that just one parent out there who's reading might spare their child the shame and humiliation, I'll add my two cents.

    I don't understand those who say, "I spank. But never in anger. Only after I've cooled down." Okaaayyy. A spank is a spank. Is the thought process that it's a calm, rationale, well thought-out hit? I'm sure the difference to the child is negligible.

    Nor do I understand those who see no shame in yelling. Been there, done that, hate it when I do. I remind myself how I would like it if someone tried to motivate me by yelling at me. Whether it be my parent, my spouse, my friend, my boss. Quite frankly it would make me want to do the opposite of what they want me to do. Fear is the only thing that would override the yelling or spanking (as a motivator to get me to behave). And who wants to parent that way? Not me.

    What do you have when you take away yelling and spanking? Still some difficult parenting moments, but that doesn't mean that either one of those is necessary or the answer.

    I'm certainly not a perfect parent; I know when I've made mistakes, and am not afraid to learn from them.

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  103. I really feel you should have trusted your husbands judgment and gone home to put your foot up. Or at least taken the other mother up on her offer to bring them home in another hour or so. Sometimes, rowdy time in the basement is a very good thing. I hope I don't sound rude here because I don't mean it that way, but you came into a situation where the rules of the game were already in motion. I think you would have maintained more power by observing for a while before inserting yourself and trying to take control. I don't know what you did in the end but by the time you got in the car, you had already lost and were then having to work extra hard to regain control. That could have been avoided. I see the other side of this too. You are their mother and they should respect and listen to you all the time, no matter what. You are right to feel that way. In the end I think you gain a stronger sense of respect from children by also knowing when to "let it ride" for a bit.

    I'm a single dad of three wonderful kids. And by wonderful, I don't mean well-behaved all the time. In all honesty, I would have probably reacted much like you did when they started testing me, but I feel I would have suffered the same outcome and have been better off with a slower extraction. Kind of like using warm water to cool off a freshly boiled egg. You used cold water first and cracked the shell.

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  104. Jen,

    There were so many comments here I am not sure if this was there or not.... after the punishment (spanking, grounding, etc.) I would definitely make them write a note of apology AND walk up to that person and explain what they did and they KNOW it was wrong and that they are sorry for disrespecting their mother and throwing her kids toys and ask for forgiveness. And then ask if they can try again to come over to that person's house and that they WILL behave the next time!

    I have done this with my 5 year old and while he could not write the entire note I wrote it for him, read it to him until he understood what it meant and made him sign it. Since mine misbehaved at church and disrespected an adult and hit and/or scared the living daylights out of three kids in his class I made him walk in the Sunday night choir ight and walk up to each person with several other kids and adults around. And ask that person if they could hug them. I had to give a nudge with each of the three kids and 2 adults (although only one adult was disrecpected I made him apologize to our Children't Director also. And told him if he did it again, he'd do this again and write a letter to our PASTOR!!! Knock on wood we have not had this problem again.

    My son "wrote" 5 notes and made 5 personal apologies. In your case since there is multiple offenders I would make them write a note and apologize individually (each child to each person, yep 2 kids + parents might means 4 apologies AND 4 notes for EACH of your children) and maybe even apologize to the husband too!

    Angie

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  105. (Sorry about missing Part 2. Blogger was acting funny when I submitted my comments. I actually had submitted each one twice. Guess Pt2 didn't make it. -Bonnie)

    [Part 2] In what other situation (in this country) can you physically harm another human and not get arrested or at least sued? A grown adult could throw the first punch and if you hit back and significantly hurt them, you could get sued or arrested. But when a child doesn't act the way you want them to, you can whip, paddle, smack or spank them and all is right with the world? How people can even defend hurting children because their own parenting skills/self control is lacking, is infuriating to me. If your spouse did something awful like have an affair, would you hit them? If you did, you would most certainly get arrested. Many people would go into a blind rage if they found something like that out. It's not right but I can understand why one would be brought to the point of uncontrollable violence. A child painting the walls, breaking the tv, etc. are not life changing events that should set off the same reaction as a spouse having an affair. Sure take away your kid's dessert for a year! Take away all of his favorite toys! But for the love of your child, do not cause them physical harm. The sad part? Even if you did hurt them, you wouldn't get arrested unless it's bad enough to get noticed. How is that just? Your spouse can do something so ghastly that a lot of people would think, "Yeah, I'd hit the creep too!" but you would still get arrested. Yet your child can do something as little as break a vase and you can hit your defenseless child for it and not get in any trouble at all. Society just accepts adults acting like monsters to their children. It's sick.

    Other than the size and strength difference between child and parent, the other reason spanking is absolutely wrong, is the fact that the part of the brain that deals with reason and consequence, isn't even fully developed until the mid-twenties. How can you expect a child to ALWAYS think ahead and realize all the outcomes of every decision they ever make?! You are hitting your child because their brain isn't developed enough. The impatient and/or un-educated parent will spank. The correct choice is to take the opportunity to talk to your child about consequence. Your child runs into the street. You hit him then say, "A car could have hit you!" Or you pull them aside and talk about cars and how they go fast and how it's hard for drivers to see children and what would happen if a car hit them. Which scenario will stick with them? Every child I have ever worked with, the scenario that doesn't involve hitting them has worked great for me. They're more likely to remember the lesson as well. It's an added bonus to not shaming a child.

    Also, I just read in your comments, and I've also seen it in other places over the years, that some parents put hot sauce or soap in their child's mouth when they say something the parent doesn't like. That is cruel and unusual punishment. These are belittling and malicious treatments of the very people parents care the most about. How one can voluntarily die to save their child, yet cause them physical and long term emotional pain because they did something the parent wasn't happy with, is so bewildering to me.

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  106. Part 2] In what other situation (in this country) can you physically harm another human and not get arrested or at least sued? A grown adult could throw the first punch and if you hit back and significantly hurt them, you could get sued or arrested. But when a child doesn't act the way you want them to, you can whip, paddle, smack or spank them and all is right with the world? How people can even defend hurting children because their own parenting skills/self control is lacking, is infuriating to me. If your spouse did something awful like have an affair, would you hit them? If you did, you would most certainly get arrested. Many people would go into a blind rage if they found something like that out. It's not right but I can understand why one would be brought to the point of uncontrollable violence. A child painting the walls, breaking the tv, etc. are not life changing events that should set off the same reaction as a spouse having an affair. Sure take away your kid's dessert for a year! Take away all of his favorite toys! But for the love of your child, do not cause them physical harm. The sad part? Even if you did hurt them, you wouldn't get arrested unless it's bad enough to get noticed. How is that just? Your spouse can do something so ghastly that a lot of people would think, "Yeah, I'd hit the creep too!" but you would still get arrested. Yet your child can do something as little as break a vase and you can hit your defenseless child for it and not get in any trouble at all. Society just accepts adults acting like monsters to their children. It's sick.

    Other than the size and strength difference between child and parent, the other reason spanking is absolutely wrong, is the fact that the part of the brain that deals with reason and consequence, isn't even fully developed until the mid-twenties. How can you expect a child to ALWAYS think ahead and realize all the outcomes of every decision they ever make?! You are hitting your child because their brain isn't developed enough. The impatient and/or un-educated parent will spank. The correct choice is to take the opportunity to talk to your child about consequence. Your child runs into the street. You hit him then say, "A car could have hit you!" Or you pull them aside and talk about cars and how they go fast and how it's hard for drivers to see children and what would happen if a car hit them. Which scenario will stick with them? Every child I have ever worked with, the scenario that doesn't involve hitting them has worked great for me. They're more likely to remember the lesson as well. It's an added bonus to not shaming a child.

    Also, I just read in your comments, and I've also seen it in other places over the years, that some parents put hot sauce or soap in their child's mouth when they say something the parent doesn't like. That is cruel and unusual punishment. These are belittling and malicious treatments of the very people parents care the most about. How one can voluntarily die to save their child, yet cause them physical and long term emotional pain because they did something the parent wasn't happy with, is so bewildering to me.

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  107. "Bonnie" thanks for taking the time to leave your comment. But, what about the child that doesn't listen, regardless of how much you try to reason with them? How do you get something to "stick"?

    Not all kids will listen to you tell them, "Don't run out in the street because cars go fast and you might get hit." When I had three toddlers that ran in three separate directions, I had them on leashes because THEY WOULDN'T LISTEN. They did not UNDERSTAND the words coming out of my mouth.

    As for where else can you harm a person and not get in trouble for it... there are several schools in the US that still implement corporal punishment and if people do something grossly wrong enough in 37 of the US States, the government could EXECUTE them for it.

    Then again, corporal punishment has been outlawed in 29 countries around the world (including domestic corporal punishment aka: parents spanking their children), so maybe a global shift is in the wind.

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