Our Norman Rockwell Painting

April 26, 2013

In the Norman Rockwell painting I envisioned my family to be, I had my beautiful children aged approximately two years a part. They would grow up with their best friends, i.e. their siblings, in tow. Family events (somehow I imagined them around an X-mas tree although we are Jewish and do not have one) were spent making lasting memories that we’d all laugh about around the camp fire years later. Fun times, family bonding and lots of love…those were to become our family’s mantra.

It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to wake up from that starry eyed dream. The saying that the inmates are running the asylum could not be more true than what exists over here. And the inmates seem to level off with the lowest denominator, meaning each child tries to get more unruly or obnoxious to get the attention they so very crave.

Positive reinforcements have been the largest theme to every social worker, teacher or administrator’s perspective on managing poor behavior choices. And as much as I try to focus or pull out something positive, I’m finding there are times when there is absolutely nothing positive. “Um…thank you for pausing for two seconds and waiting for my reaction while smacking me across the face.” I’m not sure that’s what they mean by positive reinforcements.

I’ve been taking time out to spend quality time with each of the kids separately. I’m finding each child to have great behavior during these dates but when we all come together as a family, the behavior finds all new lows. And rather than elevating each other to be better behaved, if one child is miraculously behaving, it seems that there is competition to be the worst behaved.

I’m spent. I’ve tried living in a police state, I’ve tried letting the little things go, I’m close to finding a vacation on a dessert island away from these monsters. One smacks me down, I get back up. Then the other comes with a big woosh to follow, and I’m sidelined by the third. I can’t help but feel like a boxer who has no choice but to keep getting up…just call me Rocky.

Today my children spent the majority of the time in our joint school gathering at the water fountain. I vocalized with a fellow mother my frustration and she explained that she has strict rules against use of the water fountain during this time. ME TOO! I have strict rules. I forbid it. The problem is that my kids couldn’t care less about my strict rules. And if one does, then certainly the one that does not will show the other how very insignificant my strict rules really are.

You know that Norman Rockwell painting where they are all at the dining room table with the beautiful Thanksgiving turkey displayed before them? In my world the turkey is carved in the kitchen and we never get to see the likes of it in anything other than edible platter fashion. Maybe that should have been my sign…Norman Rockwell is full of sh*t and I don’t stand a chance against three kids all under four years of age. G-d help me.

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