Tag Archives: Raising children

Post 165. Meet Bum Woody

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It was hard to be consistent.  It was so much easier to sit down and let it all go on.  There were times I was tired beyond being safe or nice.  At times I was too harsh.  Sometimes I was too lazy.  Thoughts like,  “They’ll turn out alright.  They’re just kids.  Let them be,”  came and went.

They went when we thought about what our kids would be like if we left them to their own devices. Those thoughts made us get off our butts and deal with the situation.  We knew that being consistent would give them the boundaries they were asking for.  We knew that being firm about what we expected of them, gave them the freedom to love the things that were good for them.  We wanted them to learn to obey.  We knew it would help them in the future: school, college, church, careers and then the raising of their own kids one day.   How we raised them was of great consequence.

Of course we wanted them to grow up to be responsible members of society.  Yes, we wanted them to be kind and to treat everyone with dignity and respect.  Of course, if they were running towards traffic and we said, “Stop,”  they would do just that.  We didn’t want them to end up in jail because they didn’t learn how to obey our simple family rules.

We knew our parenting would determine these things.  If we didn’t teach our children to be responsible, they would struggle with it when they grew up.  If we didn’t insist on them greeting people when they were greeted, why would they do that as adults?  Teaching them to treat everyone in their lives with absolute respect, no matter what their class or colour would instil in them a love for the “whosoever.”

What if God told them to do something and they just didn’t feel like listening?  What if one day they couldn’t submit to godly leadership because they weren’t trained to do so?  What if they grew up thinking they were “God’s gift to the world” because they were never pulled up about the bad stuff?

A manipulating, sulking child is not a pretty sight.  A manipulating, sulking adult is ugly.  We knew of too many adults who huffed off at the slightest hint of challenge or difficult truth.

Disciplining our children was hard work.  It took every bit of energy we had to keep vigilant at all times.   To not let them get away with things.  To make sure they were safe and happy.  It took a lot of patient teaching, talking and explaining.  There were times when we were exasperated with them and on the verge of “losing it.”  We had seen parents allowing things to build up.  They allowed their kids to get away with murder and didn’t do anything about it; until they had enough.  Then all hell would break lose and the poor kid would get it for no apparent reason and without an explanation.

We learnt to send them to their room so we could calm down.  We never wanted to discipline them in anger.  When we had calmed down,  we went in for a chat.  We put them on our lap, facing us; eyeball to eyeball.  We talked about what had happened and made sure they understood what they had done wrong.  We told them how many woodies they were going to get.  That depended on the seriousness of the “crime” and their age at the time.  They would go over our knee and Bum Woody* would come down.  It was important that they felt it.  They would sit on our lap again and their tears would be wiped away.  There would be hugs and kisses. They would say “Sorry” and “Thank you” and that would be that.  No more crying, no sulky face; all happy again.  All over.

Jordan’s sense of humour made it really difficult for us to be serious during a woody session.  His expressions and body movements were so funny it was hard to keep a straight face.  He would stand there gripping his bum and getting the shivers.  Sometimes it was so bad, I had to say, “You’re making me laugh, but you’re still getting a woody.”  One day, after a long, “Do you know why you’re getting a woody?” chat, he got the shivers and said, “Mom, I have just had deja-vu.”  I had to call Tony in to take over.

* Bum Woody was a small, thin wooden spatula. Not a baseball bat.

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Post 163. Raising kids in general

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Before we had children, we decided we were going to love them with all of our hearts.  We also decided the best way we could do that was to discipline them.  To just let them do their own thing didn’t seem loving.

My mom said we got more “hidings” than breakfast.  I’m not sure about that but we certainly got our fair share.  Sometimes it wasn’t fair, but we got it anyway.  If no one owned up, we all got it.  If we were misbehaving in the back seat of the car, Val would turn around and slap us all on the leg.  We knew our place, and we knew what, “Wait “til we get home” really meant.  It was no empty threat.  We panicked all the way home, ran to our room and waited for it to be over.

There was one time I was innocent but Val wouldn’t listen.  I was trying to tell her while she was putting me over her knee.  For some reason I raised my hand to protect myself and she thought I was trying to hit her.  I got a double whammie for that. *(See Post 9 and other funny stories under category, “My Childhood”)

There were times when it was done with more emotion than was safe, but in general, the spoon, brush or stick was administered in a decent manner.  We preferred Wilf’s spankings to Val’s. Threats like, “Wait ‘til your father gets home,” didn’t really work.  Unfortunately for us, Val usually took it into her own hands.

Pain is not a bad thing.  Pain helps us to remember what we did wrong.  Hopefully wisdom would step in and tell us not to do that again.  Only fools forget.  Or live for pain.  Wisdom says, “Remember the pain and obey.”

We wanted our children to know, from an early age, what it was like to experience pain.  This was minimal pain compared to what REAL pain was like.  “Don’t put that fork into the wall socket.”  A sharp smack on the hand for doing it was a less painful consequence than 220 volts, but pain none the less.  Learning that disobedience to important rules has painful consequences is a good thing.

Val always said she could take us anywhere.  We were well behaved and well liked.  She wanted people to like her kids.  That was important to her.  She took pride in knowing we would look adults in the eye, greet them, say please and thank you, stand up for older people and behave ourselves in public.  The way she dealt with public tantrums was to sort us out right then and there.  We tried it once and never again.   We knew not to mess with Val in public.

If disobedience has no consequence, children will disobey.  We all will.  If we can get away with something, we’ll do it.  If we know we won’t pay for it, we’ll take the chance.

We had been in the presence of parents who had no control of their kids.  Parents who had a great call on their lives, allowing their children to mess it all up.  Children disrupting important meetings by being allowed to pull on their parents, interrupt while adults were talking and insisting on shouting and screaming their lungs out.  Their helpless and hopeless parents sat back and watched it all with no authority to stop it.  One mother, during an interview with a principal, allowed her toddler to walk all over his table and even eat his glue stick.  Another dad, while in conversation with us, had his four year old punching, pinching and pulling on him.  His only comment was, “I don’t know why I put up with this.”  Our response was, “So why do you?”  Foolish parents raise foolish children.  The wise raise the wise.

While chatting to him, we realised that he believed in the “free-spirit” philosophy.  Baby spirits float around the universe, waiting for a baby to be born.  They enter at birth.  Who are we to try to change, train or rule over such a cute baby spirit?  They are to be left to their own devices.  Left to find their own way.  Left to be wild and free.

We could not have disagreed more.  Our children were our responsibility.  Left to their own devices, our family would have been less peaceful and way less enjoyable.  Our lives would have been more difficult.  We would have stayed at home more.  The demands of our children would have determined our date nights, our travel and our day-to-day activities.

We would have been like monkeys on the end of a chain.  Well, it was either us or our kids at the end of it.  We preferred it to be them.

(Dear reader- if you feel this would help any of your friends, please share it.  I will be writing a few more posts on this subject while I’m on a roll.  It’s one of the biggies of our day.)