Tag Archives: discipline

Puppies of Mass Destruction.

“Once you begin being naughty, it is easier to go on and on, and sooner or later something dreadful happens”

Laura Ingalls Wilder

This afternoon, I had this dreadful sense of deja vu when I woke up from a nap and the lounge room was a scene of carnage. Reminiscent of a raging toddlers dosed up on red cordial and fairy bread, the pups had ripped MORE stuffing out of their bed, torn apart a packet of picture hooks which was nowhere near the floor, and also devoured the cover of my daughter’s DVD Mean Girls. The DVD itself being all shiny, must’ve been considered booty, because I found it outside. It almost looks okay, and I could possibly pass it off without our daughter erupting. Well, that is, if you ignore the tiny little indentations left by canine teeth. Oh! That’s right. Rosie, also chewed up another pink highlighter pen, although this time it didn’t explode all over her paws and it just smeared the carpet.

“Love children especially, for they too are sinless like the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and, as it were, to guide us.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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It would be easy to say that it was all tantrum, but I bet they were just looking for something to do just like my kids when they were small and started painting the kitchen with food dye and water. I can’t remember other exploits offhand but there were many. Indeed, enough that I should’ve thought twice about having two pups, instead of one.

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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However, that’s what happens when you suddenly find out you’re having twins. You can’t send one packing. Although Zac and Rosie are brother and sister and you don’t usually consider pups from the same litter “twins”, these two have bonded closely ever since they first arrived as fosters. It was never our intention to keep them both. However, we couldn’t pick between them, and then they sort of morphed into one dog with two entities if that makes any sense.

“I would recommend to those persons who are inclined to stagnate, whose blood is beginning to thicken sluggishly in their veins, to try keeping four dogs, two of which are puppies.”

– Elizabeth von Arnum

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Yet, as much as Zac and Rosie are twins, they also have their idiosyncrasies.  Rosie is a real chewer and is very destructive, but also incredibly curious and smart. She sees something new, and she’s instantly checking it out and trying to see how it works. Zac is very affectionate and quite a lap dog and is uber-obsessed with chasing balls and what now remains of their rope toy (which isn’t much!!)

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”

-Edward Hoagland

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Meanwhile, Lady thinks the pups are great, because she can do no wrong. Indeed, Lady had become “The Saint”. That’s quite a change from when she first arrived and used to get up onto the kitchen table stealing food and being a houdini escape artist. She doesn’t jump all over hapless visitors either. As I said, she can do no wrong…as long as you’re not expecting her to chase a ball or pass an IQ test. Then, she’d better start wagging her tail and giving you the look. After all, she certainly knows how to maximise her good looks.

Zac & Rosie

Rose (Left) and Zac aged 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, I think back to when two sleeping pups had just arrived at our place and know…

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
― Charles M. Schulz

What have you and your dog been up to this week? Does your dog have any confessions? If so, dob in your dog in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blank Parenting

Yesterday, I was pretty stoked when I put a white board up in my son’s room. This wasn’t a new idea. Indeed, their whiteboards have been stacked up on top of each other in our kitchen no doubt sprouting cobwebs after I’d appropriated them for my writing.

Yes, like so many best intentions, the whiteboards had been derailed and I guess you could say that the track crew has been leaning on their shovels for more then an extended lunch break!

Anyway, there was just one unexpected hitch. What on earth was I going to put on it?

What with this empty white board screaming out at me,  my mind went blank in what was probably a rare case of writer’s block.

Of course, I could’ve just left it up to him. After all, it is HIS room, HIS whitebard and ultimately “HIS life”.

But, no man is an island…especially a child who is still growing up and needing, at the very least, a bit of steering if not a total re-direction. If your kids play Minecraft of similar no further explanation is required!!

Fed up raving at the kids like a rabid dog,  I was tempted to simply repeat the list of actions which has been laminated and parked on the kitchen table to ticked off.

However, I also wondered whether I should write some encouraging messages on it. That it should be a happy board, not a grumpy one.

I ev en wondered whether writing “I love you” would probably have a much better impact than “make your bed, tidy your room. Have you done your homework? Stop hitting your sister!” Don’t you think?!!

Besides, if he feels loved, he might just do all of the above because he feels valued, appreciated and wants to be part of the team.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I’m sceptical too!

Yet, as much as you might be loved, what matters is that you feel loved and too often that gets lost in the translation. So, a few reminders, even if they seem a little cheesy, wouldn’t go astray.

At this point, I started to wish Mr Squiggle was still around and he could come and help me out. He’d know exactly what to do. As for me, I’m still feeling overwhelmed because, like so many of us, I am so caught up with getting it right.Indeed, too right and dare I mention the p word… perfectionistic!

Mr Squiggle...I still love the little guy. He was incredible!

Mr Squiggle…I still love the little guy. He was incredible!

If you are not Australian or of a certain age, you won’t have heard of Mr Squiggle. So, here’s a quick introduction.

Mr Squiggle was a marionette with a pencil for a nose, who visited his friends from his home at 93 Crater Crescent on the Moon, flying in his pet rocket (named Rocket). Mr Squiggle was a cheery, scatter-brained character who would often be distracted and would occasionally go for “space-walks”, and his assistant would need to calm him down to get him to focus on the task of drawing.

Mr. Squiggle was created by Norman Hetherington, and the character first appeared on the Children’s TV Club on ABC TV but was spun off into his own programme which first aired on 1 July 1959. Children wrote in with their “squiggles” and Mr. Squiggle would turn them into recognisable drawings by connecting lines with his pencil nose. More often than not, the picture would be drawn upside down and then Mr. Squiggle would gleefully declare: “Upside down! Upside down!” – asking his assistant to turn the picture the right way up and reveal the completed drawing.

The last episode went to air just over 40 years after the first, on 9 July 1999.

So, inspired by Mr Squiggle, I could draw Mister a picture. I could even draw a picture of him. He’d love that and indeed, he’d probably like to draw on there himself. Have some fun!

I could also say I love you.

Moreover, being an 11 year old boy, I also opted for a joke:

“What does a computer do when it’s too hot?”
“It opens Windows”.

I am also going to write important reminders on there. Not just pick up your putrid socks and undies and put them in the basket but “Scouts Tonight”.

If all of this fails, I might just have to resort to employing Mr Squiggle’s enigmatic co-star, Bill blackboard. Bill, who was a rather grumpy, cantankerous character who contrasted well with Mr Squiggle’s friendly, dithering creativity, could well have been the inspiration behind Grumpy Cat and certainly could use a motivational coach.This grumpy blackboard’s catch phrase was: “Hurry Up”.

The rather cantankerous Bill Blackboard.

The rather cantankerous Bill Blackboard.

I hate to admit it but Bill Blackboard could well be impersonating me on a weekday morning!!

Anyway, here’s my end product:

The finished Whiteboard: a joke, a drawing and love from Mummy!

The finished Whiteboard: a joke, a drawing and love from Mummy!

The joke went down very well but when my daughter saw it, she said my writing was too big and it didn’t have anything he needed to do on it. So, Miss 9 was instructed to re-do it but leave my picture alone. This was her contribution:

I should have waited for Miss 9 to get home from school. She did a great job with the whiteboard. She even added the date.

I should have waited for Miss 9 to get home from school. She did a great job with the whiteboard. She even added the date.She left my drawing alone.

All this goes to show that I can take a mole hill and turn it into a mountain and truly stress myself out in the process. It also shows that I need to consult the kids more in the decision-making process and that they can make some veryt useful contributions. After all, they’re growing up!

By the way, in a previous post I wrote about moving on some of the toys the kids have outgrown to make way for growth. Although the car bed is still parked in the lounge room, the dolls’ house left today. I am not only proud of Miss for being able to let it go but she also used her knowledge of knots from cub scouts to tie the dolls’ house on my friend’s roof racks. Well done! Very impressed!

xx Rowena

Blogger’s Block and the Ghost of Steam Engines Past.

Have you ever found that this blogging business is much more difficult than you’d ever imagined?

That when you just want to write a seemingly simple post, for some unknown reason, the words, the thoughts, the structure simply won’t come together?

I’m not talking about writer’s block. It’s not about staring at a blank page or an empty screen. There are words. There are ideas. You’re just not “in the flow”. All those thoughts, words and ideas won’t link up. They’re like random Lego bricks refusing to snap together.

That’s where I’m at.

I just wanted to post a simple postcard from the Workshops Railway Museum in Ipswich and yet it’s not coming together. I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days now and what I thought should have been a pretty basic exercise, has become an epic struggle.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Our family has been going to the train museum since 2007 and I thought I knew it pretty well. Moreover, I’m not trying to write anything that fancy…only a simple postcard. It should be Simple Simon… “Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here” and upload a couple of photos.  Yes, I know a blog post has to be a bit better than that but it’s not rocket science.

My problems all began with trying to write about the big, black steam engine out the front. As much as I love it, I couldn’t tell you what type of train it was or anything about its history. I don’t know what it was, how many wheels it has or whether they are big wheels or little wheels and what gauge of track it requires. It is simply the big, black engine. I can just vouch for the colour but if you were to tell me that it is green instead of black, I wouldn’t argue the point. I just remember photographing the kids on it and Geoff discussing its technical specifications (not that I can actually remember any of the details). I love the romance of steam trains and all the history but I am not technical!! I am really not technical.

Slowly but surely, the cause of my writing difficulties was coming to light. I was trying to write in my husband’s voice, instead of my own. You see, he is the train enthusiast, along with our son…not me. I don’t actually know much, if anything, about trains. I was trying to give a technical tour of the museum when clearly I’m not a technical person. I was trying to crawl inside my husband’s shoes, or more pertinently his head and it’s no wonder I couldn’t string everything together. There were too many gaps to fill in. I like trains and I love the train museum but I’m there taking photos and that is my love. I’m not into all that nitty gritty train stuff just like I have no idea what’s under the hood of my car.

So I’m going to give you my very own unique tour of the train museum and that involves a bit of a history of our visits to the museum, which all started off with a bit of a bang when our then 3 year old son threw the tantrum to end all tantrums and almost busted his boiler and mine along with it when we had to leave.

Almost heaven!

Almost heaven!

This is not an uncommon event at the train museum. You could just imagine what that place is to a little kid. They’re in heaven and their mean and nasty Mum or Dad is dragging them away…you’d be complaining too. Fortunately, the museum’s staff are very obliging and will turn things off to help you get out the door.

Captain Newton...the Captain lends Mister his real Qantas Captain's Hat.

Captain Newton…the Captain lends Mister his real Qantas Captain’s Hat.

At Sydney Airport before Take Off

At Sydney Airport before Take Off

We were in Ipswich to attend an official service to celebrate my grandfather’s 70th year of ordination. At 92 years of age, my grandfather was the second longest-serving minister in the Lutheran Church in Australia.  My father and I had a bit of time to fill in and decided to take Mister to the train museum. We were just planning to check it out and come back the next day if it was any good.

Train Driver

Train Driver

Well, Mister was happy beyond his wildest dreams and thought he had died and gone to train heaven!!! You could just imagine his delight when he was surrounded by huge big steam trains. His eyes were almost bursting out of their sockets and I can just imagine how he felt when all those magnificent steam trains suddenly came to life. He was beyond excitement. Moreover, there wasn’t just steam trains. There was also a huge model train track which totally dwarfed his little wooden train set back home. He was fixated watching the model trains and pressing all the buttons. For a little 3 year old boy who adored trains, this place was just superlative. He was happy beyond his wildest, wildest dreams!!

Then, it was time to go.

Now, I’m sure you can see it coming… the tantrum. Not just any tantrum either. Mister blew a boiler!

My Dad ended up carrying him out of the museum and he was still kicking, screaming and fighting with all his might to go back in when we finally managed to get him into the car. Even then, he absolutely refused to get into his car seat and he certainly gave fresh meaning to the power of persistence…

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge.

You know how these events work. The entire day is planned out with clockwork precision and meltdowns by toddlers aren’t factored into the schedule.

We were in big trouble.

The Cake

The Cake

Well, we managed to get there on time in the end but it was a lot of stress.

Looking at cards the next day with Papa Bert

Looking at cards the next day with Papa Bert

I laugh when I look back on it all now. You know how it is. The worst moments often make the best stories down the track.

We have all loved the train museum so much that we’ve had annual membership passes even though we live inter-state over 1000 kilometres away. We just make sure we stay for the best part of a day to keep everybody happy. There is so much to see and do!!

This still isn’t the postcard I’d intended to send from the train museum. That’s still to come. Perhaps, we’ll call this one the ghost of steam engines past.

One interesting little PS to this post.

Both children at the train museum.

Both children at the train museum.

I finally finished this post last night and then went hunting for the photos. They turned out to be quite an insight. You can’t just trust everything to memory. Our daughter was also in the photos.  Somehow, she had been omitted from the story. I had assumed that we had left her back at the house with my Mum but there she was in all the photos. Photos I had mentally attributed to a later visit. I also found photos of the technical details. Perhaps, they were for Geoff. He couldn’t get time off work for that visit and we had flown up with Mum. There is also a remote possibility that I was trying to educate myself on the technical aspects of trains, although that has to be pretty doubtful. Who knows? Memory is obviously an unreliable witness.

Taking care of his little sister.

Taking care of his little sister.

The Greatest Discipline Challenge

Is it fair to punish your children for committing the very same crimes you committed as a child? Wouldn’t that make you the very worst of sinners…a hypocrite? Or, as a parent and the ultimate role model, guide and police person for your child, do you simply keep your secrets secret and apply the strong arm of the law regardless? Hard liners would also argue that if your child shares your weakness, then you really need to be firm and stamp out that undesirable behavior to help them overcome their genetic heritage.

I confess that I’m a bit stumped and am not really sure how to proceed.

You see, my child is guilty of stealing. Not from the local shop or anything sinister like that. My son has been sneaking chocolate biscuits out of the pantry. Actually, his sister has too. That means both my children are thieves and if I followed the letter of the law, they would both be condemned… sentenced to time out for the term of their natural lives. Convicts were sent to Australia for far lesser crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread. My kids are eating my Tim Tams and that should be a capital offense… if only I wasn’t going to be heading to the gallows with them!!

Although it is my house and I paid for the Tim Tams, I shouldn’t be eating them either. The Tim Tams with all their layers of chocolate temptation might be masquerading as my very best friends understanding my deepest and most crushing emotional needs, but I know better. They are not friends at all. They are the serpent in the Garden of Eden looking ever so good but are trying to lead me astray.

That said, I’m not saying that I can’t eat Tim Tams all. Moderation is fine.  They are a sometimes food and if I can only be strong and keep that sometimes sometimes, I can have my Tim Tam and eat it too. That’s one Tim Tam…not two, three or even the entire packet. Tim Tams are very, very hard to resist especially when they get a little warm in summer and the chocolate gets  a bit melty and they just squish in your mouth. Hmm!

For the initiated, there is also the Tim Tam explosion where you dip your Tim Tam in your coffee and use it as a straw and the whole thing becomes so gooey, chocolatey and irresistible just before it drops into your mug.

Anyway, I’ve deviated again. I was supposed to be talking about my antics as a child although I guess you can see that maturity hasn’t cured my chocolate tooth.

When I was growing up and particularly when I was in high school at an age when I really did know better, I used to “find” my mother’s chocolate stash and eat whatever I’d found. These weren’t just a few squares of Cadbury Dairy Milk either. Mum used to buy these special hazelnut clusters from the cafe made from special, dark chocolate. There were also Ferrero Rochers. I also remember sneaking Nutella by the spoonful out of the fridge. I was a bad, bad girl and as you can see, I’m still not sorry!

As a teenager, I never considered my mother’s feelings at all!! I’d found the chocolates, they were mine. All mine! I didn’t consider that maybe she’d felt like a chocolate with her cup of tea before she went to bed. It never crossed my mind that she might need an emotional pick-me-up at the end of her day? Oh no! Mum and I were waging a war. She wanted me to lose weight and I only had eyes for chocolate. This was more than a game of cat and mouse. It was a battle. In her efforts to outmaneuver me, Mum found new places or hidey holes to hide her stash. However, she often forgot where she’d put it and I found it first. You see, I had great perseverance!

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I must tell you that all this writing about chocolate hasn’t been good for my resolve. I’ve just indulged in a Ferrero Rocher. They are just magic!

So if I am a chocolate thief from way back, am I in a position to punish my children for the very same crime? I don’t want my kids to believe they can get away with stealing but I find it difficult to punish them.

I have considered not having any chocolate or lollies in the house. This is one approach to the problem but that isn’t teaching them restraint or manners. I would let them have the occasional Tim Tam but not every day and not before school. I also believe that it’s important for the kids to understand boundaries and that other members of the family, even their mother, have needs too that need to be respected. Letting them get away with stealing the chocolate isn’t teaching them that.

That said, what is getting away with it? I’ve told them off but I couldn’t think about what to put in time out and I doubt the kids would have gone into time out. They usually don’t do what I say. I have also been really tired lately. My prednisone dosage dropped down to 15mg this week, which is great news but my artificial energy source has gone and after being so pumped up, I am feeling particularly flat. It is hard to follow through with the kids when I just feel like going to sleep.

The Giving Tree

I have a very good book called The Giving Tree by Shel Silberstein and I read that to them the other night and at least our daughter got it. The little boy keeps taking from the tree until there is nothing left. This is a story with no happy ending. The tree dies.  I explained to the kids that they can’t take and take and take until Mummy and Daddy have nothing left. It applies to Tim Tams but it also applies to love. As parents, we need to feel loved and a bit spoilt by our kids just like they need to be loved and feel loved by us. When we are giving them so much, it is so easy to feel drained and our love tanks need to be topped up too. We can’t run on empty.

It is up to us as parents to put some boundaries in place so that we actually have something left for ourselves but as our kids get older, they also need to put other members of the family first at times and be considerate, decent human beings who will be valued, considerate members of our community.

For better or worse, that begins at home  although I’m still not really sure how to tackle the chocolate. Any ideas?

xx Rowena