Wednesday, November 05, 2008

wednesday weigh in

This morning after I dropped the children off at school, I took Henry to the YMCA.

We walked in to the nursery together and while he was quietly playing with blocks, I made my exit through the rear entrance, so as not to be seen and create an unnecessary disturbance. I thought that if my son even noticed that I was gone, he would feel comfortable enough in his surroundings that he would continue to play until I returned, an hour later.

I made my way in to the exercise room and climbed on a stationary bike. I set my riding time for 40 minutes and decided to do hills at a resistance of 10. I draped my towel across the handlebars, placed my water bottle in the holder, plugged in my headphones and hit "play" and "start" almost simultaneously.

My favorite workout song, Viva La Vida boomed in my ears and I instantly felt energized and unstoppable. I was swept away to a whole different world. I started riding hard with a goal of sustaining my RPM at 90. Just as I was starting to feel the sweat on my brow, the song ended. But I started it again and decided to place it on repeat for the duration of my workout because the arrangement for the cello and the piano was doing something powerful to my adrenalin level.

I'm standing up to pedal on the hills, digging deep, and feeling my whole body rejoice in the glory that is a good workout. My eyes are closed and the music is filling my soul. But in the background, I hear something. It sounds like a baby crying. But I convince myself that it must be my brain playing funny tricks. Still, I decide to open my eyes for a moment and there is a familiar woman standing directly in front of me. She is talking, but I can't hear her. I don't respond right away and instead, sit down and continue pedaling while wondering if this is a dream. She is looking at me. She is smiling. Her mouth is moving and she looks down.

I stand up again to see what she is looking at and there, obscured beneath the display panel, is Henry. He is holding her hand and screaming, "MY BABY!" I pull off my headphones and instantly, the good feeling is gone.

It seems that once he realized I had left, he started crying and wouldn't stop. No amount of Legos or books or Cheerios or bubbles or swinging or holding or singing would help. So after 15 minutes of trying to console an inconsolable baby, they came to find me. Henry has had ample experience in nurseries before. Just never without his siblings.

On the drive home, I was determined that I needed to salvage the morning by doing something good for my body. So once we arrived home, I threw out all of our remaining Halloween candy, which consisted predominantly of Laffy Taffy and Tootsie Rolls.

And honestly? I don't see the purpose of EITHER one.

My plan going forward is to take Henry for runs in the morning once the children are in school. Depending upon the weather, I might opt to run to the neighborhood pool and swim while Henry naps in his stroller. Charlie meanwhile, is in the process of finding a male runner for a relay team he is pulling together to complete the SUPERFROG triathlon in March, where he'll be racing against Navy Seals.

Charlie is planning to complete the 1.2-mile ocean swim while our neighbor (a professional cyclist) will be completing the 56-mile bike ride. Now all they need is to find someone to run 13.1 miles in sand (with scattered pavement running) and they'll be all set. They are trying to convince me to assemble a woman's relay team for the same event and quite frankly, I'd find more joy eating buckets of Laffy Taffy and Tootsie Rolls while having ingrown toenails removed.

In other news.

I wanted to respond to a comment that was left on my Monday post.

An anonymous commenter wrote, "Food for thought: A puppy can be trained to go outside to potty and in a few months. They can be trained to sit, roll over, lay down,and jump. They can be trained on what to chew on and what not to chew on. If the puppy did not do these basic things, they would receive additional training until success was achieved. 4 year olds are much smarter than puppies, so if you would not tolerate a dog pooping all over the house, tearing up household furniture, or biting people, why should you allow intelligence 4 year olds to get away with poor behavior? Low expectations breeds poor performance. This is the age to Disciple your children, and I did write Disciple, the root of Discipline. Ditch the PC of society and get control of your kids. The evil parents children of the 40s and 50s put a man on the moon. Since our society has become PC, we have accomplished nothing as a nation."

I felt compelled to respond to this comment because if I were to read my post on Monday as a stranger, and not know what the atmosphere for discipline is like in this house, I would probably draw the conclusion that the parents have no control and the children run the roost.

I think that the commenter was trying to make the point that unsupervised and undisciplined children will grow in to unmotivated and irresponsible adults. And although I will agree that there seems to be a lot of "that" around, I will not agree that as a Nation we have accomplished "nothing" in the past 50 years, or whenever our Nation has become "PC". I personally believe that we have made great strides in civil rights, science, technology, medicine and education.

But the fact is, because children are smarter than dogs, they push limits.

I've trained up dogs before and although consistency, obedience and establishing my position as "alpha dog" are critical components, I am not prepared to place choke collars on my children or rub their noses in excrement. The day that I do that, is the day that I will seek immediate medical treatment and have myself committed to an institution.

I believe in treating children as children, not as animals that sleep on the floor and eat without hands (even though ours have been known to do that, too).

Although I try to convey through blog postings what the atmosphere is like in our home, unless someone was sitting at our kitchen table, they would have absolutely NO idea what limits or expectations I have established.

But I will tell you this much: I believe that beating and degrading children is wrong.

I believe that giving children responsibility and allowing them to feel safe in their home is right.

That said, I am very strict and if our children don't mind my instructions or are not respectful of me or each other (or anyone's property), they are promptly removed from the "scene", placed in time out, and depending upon the situation, lose a valued possession. Although some may disagree, I believe that when all else fails, there are times when a fast spank to the bum is necessary and can create a desired behavior more effectively and efficiently than anything else.

Regardless of where we are, if our children misbehave, they are disciplined the same as if we were standing in our living room. We have left the swimming pool, gymnastics, and more recently, Sea World, within minutes of arriving because I will not tolerate children that act up. To treat children differently when you are out, is to show inconsistency.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

But also, seek to understand.

I see parents that are dragging children all over creation and are not at all respectful of the children's need to eat, sleep and have energetic play time. I see people that place huge demands on little people. "Sit at the restaurant table and DON'T move." "Walk through this store with me and DON'T touch anything." "Sit on the airplane and DON'T make a sound."

I'll admit that I'm guilty of those things at one time or another. But I also try to remind myself that children are people, not ornaments. And raising three children at the exact same age, takes a lot more patience than I ever imagined. (And a lot more wine.)

While I do believe that some of the behavior our children are exhibiting may be age appropriate, I believe that some of it may be exasperated by a full-time school schedule. In an attempt to nurture our children individually, beginning tomorrow, Charlie and I are both planning to take one day a week off from work and spend it with a child that we will remove from school for the day. We can make up our work at night, in the morning or on the weekends. But to be presented with this opportunity of having child care support during the day for two of our children so that we can spend some much needed 2 on 1 time (or more accurately, 2 on 2 since Henry will be with us), is too good to pass up.

Charlie and I will have some "quiet" time together and we expect to have some great bonding time with our children, individually, as well. Maybe we'll go to the beach, or the zoo or for a hike. Or maybe, we'll go furniture shopping and let whomever it is that's with us, help to pick out a new ottoman to replace the one that we've had for the past 12 years and was falling apart at the seams, anyway.

Although I'll forever believe that having respect for possessions is important, it's more important to have respect for people.

And these are the best little people I know.


  1. What a great idea - to take them out one at a time. You won't need to do something special every time. Sometimes just having an uninterupted conversation is the most priceless thing you can give a small person. My 3 have 2 years between each child so I stagger bedtime so that each child gets 45-60 minutes each with me. It's amazing what you can fit into that time. You can't do that but this will make such a difference.

    I love the way you and Charlie can change your lives to make sense of what is happening to you.

    On a different note - thank you America for voting for the right man. We who couldn't vote but will be affected salute you!!!!

  2. Love the post, EXCEPT, I love Laffy taffy's they are my favorite, and tootsie rools are right up there, I've eaten all of them out of my daughter's candy, now all thats left is chocolate.


  4. Um, you are wrong -
    laffy taffys are DELICIOUS!!!!

    Love the three little pigs photo and the babies walking through the corn in their hats - adorable! And I love reading your posts. I don't live in California but I was sorry to see Prop 8 passed. Your posts on politics and faith have caused me much introspection (which is a good thing:)

  5. You kick ass. 'Nuff said.

  6. "Although I'll forever believe that having respect for possessions is important, it's more important to have respect for people."

    This is going on my fridge, to remind me (and my husband!)that the basis of all our interaction with our almost three year old, should be respect. Regardless of how many times she's told me 'no' that day...

  7. I totally agree with you. After having both kids and dogs I can say that they are in no way the same to raise. I think you are doing an awesome job. No one on the outside can ever know what it is really like for you with your particular children. So to try to tell you how to raise your kids is ridiculous.
    I totally enjoy reading your posts. =)

  8. Yeah! I think that's EXACTLY what they need. I'm sure they just miss you guys. I was going to tell you to do that, but I was busy today. :)

    If that doesn't work, try the choke collar.

  9. Oh how I just love anonymous comments. Seriously people need to be willing to use their name, or move along.

    I think you're doing a great job. Parenting is hard. And as a mom to a four year old, I know they test limits. (I will say, it does one day get easier. I love six. Five was pretty okay. Much better than four. But six, oh how I will miss it, when we get to seven in a few weeks.) You have three of them. Three in the same stage at the same time. Always and forever.

  10. I feel bad for making a few suggestions two posts ago. Sorry.

    I guess as a reader, reading that the kids ran their hands though a birthday cake alarmed me because it seemed like you didn't do really do anything about it. I should not jump to conclusions.

    In this post you are so correct in saying that none of us are there to see what is going on all the time. I'm sure you are doing a fantastic job--it just must be so exasperating with four so young.

    The one on one time is a great idea. I am going to try it more too.

  11. Ooooooo, Superfrog is a KILLER. My dh didn't finish the first time (he got severely dehydrated and actually couldn't pee even though he was drinking a ton, weird) and the 2nd time he did great. Not a relay though.

    GO is an awesome race to attend/watch because of it's loop style. It was the 1st triathlon I actually took my 4mo. too. (she's 10-1/2 now).

    I'm actually looking for a local 5K to run with her soon b/c she's been working on the mile in PE and wants to do something with me.

  12. We haven't accomplished anything in the last 50 years-Good Lord we just elected a black president! I'd call that kin to a man on the moon and wonderful progress for our nation. As I've said before, providing a safe and consistent enviroment for your kids is paramount and it appears you and your husband work everything in your world to accomplish that for your family. Your kids are great and all the testing limits they do is NORMAL! Good Job!

  13. Good luck with working out, Jen! It seems like all the forces are working against you on this one.

  14. I had to LOL at that "haven't achieved anything in 50 years" comment. Um, hello? What are you reading this BLOG on. I'm guessing a COMPUTER, right? That you use to surf the INTERNET? Too funny.

    Raising kids is hard. And if you don't think it's hard you're probably not doing a very good job of it.

    I really need to get rid of the rest of my candy too. There's way too much good, tempting chocolate in there.


  15. de-lurking here to echo practically every other comment so far: in my opinion, as a very long-time reader of your blog, you're doing a great job as a parent. things you've written often make me take a step back and take a look from a different angle, especially your blogs regarding discipline. i thank you for that.

    my wife blogs regularaly and i can second your comment saying that since we readers aren't there in your home experiencing these things in first person, there is no way we can completely understand the situations that occur. why this is difficult (or even next to impossible) for some to get is beyond me.

    i think you and charlie are going to enjoy the one-on-one time with those amazing trips more than you can imagine, and so will they.

    thanks so much for sharing with us.

  16. The anonymous commenter either has no children of his/her own (as is so often the case when "expert" advice is being handed out unsolicited) or is raising his/her own children with fear rather than respect. Either way, not a person whose judgement I would trust.

  17. Honestly,
    Isn't life and the challenges we use to grow enough-without people actually taking the time out to judge?

    It's a case of do unto others, and this golden rule is stated in just about every ancient writing about behavioral precepts (including the New Testament, Talmud, Koran, and the Analects of Confucius). Being religious to me is LIVING your life in words actions and thoughts. Being religious is not condemning others parenting, their sexuality and their rights to love, live and be happy.

    Discourse is wonderful it expands your mind and your views- however judging with a closed mind is more the pity for that poster and the burden God has given them to grow.

    Note that I am putting my name. LOL

  18. Jen Fed Ex just left, I just got my Shuffle. I can't hardly wait to load it. I have company that will be leaving tomorrow so I will work on it then. Thanks again!

  19. Jen Fed Ex just left, I just got my Shuffle. I can't hardly wait to load it. I have company that will be leaving tomorrow so I will work on it then. Thanks again!

  20. I think it is amazing that you and your hubby have created personal goals that show the children that you are very much a part of their lives but that THAT doesn't mean that you guys have stopped LIVING! I wish the relay guys excellent health, and that their bodies aren't too beat up afterwards. Go, guys, GO!
    Again, I think you addressed an opinion that differed from your own with dignity and respect. Very nice.
    Thanks for your blog. It helps to see a mom with three 4-year olds go through (albeit more chaotically) the same stuff I'm going through with my one.

  21. Somehow I've always resisted the temptation to apply the training techniques that I've used on my dogs to those that I've used on my kids. I don't want to "breed" performance in my children. I want to parent - and that sometimes means that I need to be firm. But I don't want them to live in fear of discipline. I want them to feel safe enough to explore the world and discover their passions. I want them to respect others. I want them to love. If I can provide those gifts, they will work hard at what they want to accomplish, they will find satisfaction in their work, they will live among friends and they will live happy lives.