BUSY IN BRISTOW: Nagging or Something More?

| December 7, 2014 | 0 Comments | Busy in Bristow

busyinbristow-1For the past two years, Husband had Morning Duty, but now it’s mine again. I’m not sure how he ran things, but I am proud to report that these kids aren’t sneaking anything by me.

In the past week alone, I’ve cited both boys on dress code violations — Oldest Son wearing shorts in 32 degree weather, Youngest Son so fond of yesterday’s camo pants and shirt he tried wearing them again. And that’s just the beginning. However, there’s a downside to making sure things get done the way I want them to.

Between supervising their wardrobe, breakfast choices and backpack contents, I have – in the space of three short months – become a World Class Nag, and although I’m sick of saying the same things to them at dawn each day, I seem to be stuck.

I ask myself how hard can it be to create a chart that each of them has to use each morning to earn some sweet treat after school or Pavlov-Dog screen time? Not very, yet the chart doesn’t get made, and I know I’m not alone. Other Moms get caught up in this kind of parenting mess too.

In fact, this whole thing has me wondering why – once my children were old enough to do things for themselves – I turned so naturally to nagging. I didn’t plan on being a nag. I hadn’t honed my skills on my husband before we had kids. As a child, I was nagged daily, so if anything that made me sensitive to not doing it.

But I also suspect that relying on nagging to get things done has something to do with my avoidance issues. If I can just “get through” the problems this morning, I can float downstream until the next morning.  And if I don’t try something new, I earn the bonus reward of not having to suffer the feeling of energy expended on something that ultimately failed. What I don’t confront is that my current model of morning duty is failing.

Don’t get me wrong: we’re not in chaos. We’re not throwing bowls of soggy cereal against the wall in protest, and hey – I’m not even yelling.

No, my nagging is more of a constant replay of all the things I said the day before. “…have you eaten your breakfast yet? Have you brushed your teeth? Take that jacket off. Let me see what you’re wearing. Are all your papers signed? NO? Why not? You know all papers are supposed to be signed when you come home from school. Comb your hair. Why haven’t you brushed your teeth yet? Take your allergy pill. Whose cereal bowl is this still on the counter? Did anyone feed the dog?” Sometimes the questions and directives change order, but they’re all painfully the same … every single morning.

Since I have four kids, and they each struggle with a different morning challenge, that’s a lot of monitoring for me.

No wonder our morning routine doesn’t work as well as it did when they were preschoolers, and I just did everything for them. “You’re wearing this today. Open your mouth so we can brush your teeth. Here’s your cereal … you’re done? Okay, let me have your bowl.”

So, it occurs to me that part of this is also about me being in charge, not wanting my kids to suffer any natural consequences, and caring too much about what other people think. (What? You don’t NEED me to get up and out the door anymore? No! I didn’t want you to pull a strip for being disorganized, and I certainly don’t want you to lose all your friends because no one wants to smell your morning breath. What will people say if they see Youngest Son in the exact … the exact … same clothes he wore yesterday? And that shirt sleeve he used for a tissue all day long …)

Since I have so much tied up in this gig, it’ll probably take me a while to do the right thing, but it’s clear to me that part of growing up — for all of us — is letting go.

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