Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is it Possible to Recover from being a Crappy Parent?

My children are spoiled.

                                  (Shea in 2010, already with more toys than a baby needs)

And not a cute, "everyone loves them and showers them with gifts" kind of spoiled. We're talking, "expects a toy every time we enter a store" spoiled and "screams like a mad man" otherwise kind of spoiled. It's seriously out of control. It's our fault - totally, completely our fault. So let's break it down, problem and solution, CSI style...

Exhibit A -

At the dentist...Shea is a little nervous....the hygienist says, "If you're a big brave boy you'll get a special prize when you're done!" Shea, "Ok, but make it a spider with a squishy tummy that sticks to the window. That's what I want." Later, she offers him a toothbrush. Shea: "......... I don't like those. Will you get me one that has Buzz Lightyear on it?"

Exhibit B -

At our grocery store, the butcher gives out string cheese to the kids to keep them busy while mom and dad are shopping. He noticed my kids eyeballing him and ran right out with two sticks of cheese. Shea took it, looked at it disgustedly and said, "I'd rather have a cupcake." The butcher laughed and said, "Well, I'm sorry all I have is cheese." Shea: "Well, next time you should probably make one for me."

Exhibit C -

My parents came to visit and we picked them up from the airport. We got in the car, buckled up and Shea looked at his grandma and said, "So did you bring a lot of money so you can take me to the toy store?"

Exhibit D -

Shea saw a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Pirate Ship that cost almost 50.00 and begged for it for MONTHS. We kept telling him that it was a little too expensive for a "just because" purchase and that he would have to wait. For his birthday we took him to Toys R Us and let him buy the pirate ship. We took it home, he played with it for 25 minutes and then said, "Can we go back to Toys R Us and buy that Dinosaur I saw." Us - "No, Shea you just got a very expensive pirate ship toy." Shea - "Well let's take it back then and get the Dinosaur, I'm done with it."

I could go on and on with more stories but as I type them it's getting more and more painful for me to relive these. Why is my kid such a brat? We don't act like that, we certainly model good behavior for him when it comes to receiving gifts and being grateful for things we are given. Where did he learn this behavior and how do I stop it???

Matt and I decided that we need to lay down the law.

 (Jedi Style)

Things need to change around here AND fast. The toy buying is getting crazy. I hereby admit that we use shopping for toys as bribery. We told Shea that if he would STAY in his own bed all night, he would get a gold star and at the end of the month, he can cash the stars in for a trip to the toy store. In theory, this sounds fantastic. In practice, it failed miserably. Yes, he sleeps in his own bed now (but still wakes us up 2-3 times a night demanding that Matt go sleep WITH him in his bunk bed), however we have somehow accrued WAY more toys than the "once a month" stipulation and I'm not exactly sure how that happened. When he's getting a new toy once a week, the gold star incentive loses its luster.

So the problem becomes that WE are in more need of discipline than Shea is. WE need to stop buying toys. Ok....sounds simple. Let's do it. Uh oh... Christmas is coming quickly. Hobby Lobby and Wal Mart already have their Christmas "gear" out and we need to start thinking about our game plan. You can't NOT buy your kids toys for Christmas? Can you.....? We've been juggling this around and trying to think of ways to have a toy-free or at least minimal-toy Christmas. Maybe one toy each and the rest books, movies, clothes... I don't know. We're still planning this out and have plenty of time to think about to suggestions!

And today I had to do what I always said I wouldn't do.... enforce TV rules. My parents had TV rules for us. They blocked certain channels, including Mtv which actually did kill me..... and we weren't allowed to turn the TV on until after dinner. When I became a parent I said, "That sucked! I'm going to let my kids watch TV whenever they want...." I know why my parents did that to us. It made us actually have to be human beings. When the TV is on in my house, my kids are vapid, brainless zombies. I could (and have) screamed FIRE!!!!! at the top of my lungs and received absolutely NO response from them. My mom and I call this the "Piper trance," as all males in the Piper side of the family seem to have the ability to focus so intensely on TV that the world could be ending all around them and they'd be oblivious to it. And the moment I decided to put my foot down was today actually.... when I was trying to teach a homeschool lesson to Shea and he was flopping around and rolling his eyes and being just weird. I asked him what his problem was and he said, "I don't want to do school because I'll miss Doc McStuffins....." THAT.WAS.IT. I  immediately informed him that as of RIGHT NOW, there will be new rules in this house, young man. The TV  doesn't get turned on until 6 pm (if at all). And right now, my kids are actually laughing and playing with each other rather than laying on the couch like zombie blobs.

So here I am, declaring publicly on the internet for the whole world to see, I AM A CRAPPY PARENT! I have let this be my life. I have let my children become this. But I am going to change. WE are going to change. I wonder though, if you can ever recover from this? Will my kids always be ungrateful spoiled little brats?? I really hope not. I hope that we can turn this around in time to prevent any lasting damage. There's plenty of hope for Kellan, but Shea...I'm not too sure. I'll keep you informed of our progress!