Spoiler alert: No.
More detail below.
This week I am concentrating with all my might on “getting organized” (The Chief says this is my stated goal every time he asks what I’m doing that day, since… forever… ). So much ironing… so much crafting that needs to be done.
I’m making pajamas (or nightgowns, as the case may be) for the grandbabes this year, which is Natasha’s idea, because she’s a dreamer. It’s true that I made bridesmaid’s dresses in quantity, but something about approaching yuletide causes crafting panic. Yet, I can do it! Why not? I just have to stop the self-paralyzation and DO IT.
1. Finding flannel that isn’t a) garish and b) expensive and c) bad quality is hurdle #1. After a fruitless and even bootless time at JoAnn’s, I had a full and frank discussion with myself.
“What is it that you are looking for?”
“The kind of flannel that sheets are made of.”
So I’m not here to shill for J. C. Penney, but I will say that their holiday flannel sheets are buttery, pretty, brushed on both sides, and a good value if you use a promotion to buy online and do in-store pick-up, thus avoiding the shipping fee. I’m thinking you might find nice flannel elsewhere, but I liked their patterns.
A double sheet set was a generous amount of flannel for two little pj sets, two nightgowns, and a baby sleep sack. Now, mind you — pay attention to the fact that in this case, the pattern only goes one way, so you can’t get fancy and frugal with your pattern layout. All the pieces have to go the same way! Get it?
2. Do yourself a favor; get a sharpie and mark those expensive sharp scissors “SEWING ONLY” or “FABRIC ONLY” and guard them with your might.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we had minestrone last night. Soooo good. I love minestrone because it uses up that turkey carcass for wonderful broth, it’s so delicious and hearty, and it rescues a sad, dark, gray day. When we were out in Colorado this fall, our lovely hosts served us delicious minestrone with the pasta on the side, passing the parmesan to grate on top. Like: put the pasta in your bowl, pour the soup over it, and grate the cheese.
What struck me was the thought: Here is the solution to the mushy pasta in the leftover soup! I can now freeze the soup if I need to!
I had pearl couscous leftover from another meal, so that was easy. And I do love pesto in my minestrone, so I got out some I had frozen from the late summer. We may not live on our garden’s produce, but we are all set for kale (which I chopped into the soup along with previously frozen green beans from the garden).
If you can live on kale, we’re good.
(It is nice to have the pesto as well, but that I am rationing out by the teaspoon!)
So, when you are reading all that advice out there — the advice not given to you by Auntie Leila — you need to ask yourself if you would like to be treated the way the expert is telling you to treat your child — or for that matter, husband.
Me, I’d rather be spanked (I mean, if I were a child), and get it over with, than be lectured incessantly.
Me, I’d rather be yelled at than handled with exasperated, barely controlled “patience” and a sense that my company doesn’t bring any joy, though it may bring penance at times.
I don’t like being manipulated. Do you?
Dear Auntie Leila,
[A lovely reader, obviously well intentioned, pleading for help with a messy, slob of a husband who leaves his dirty socks everywhere and never puts anything away, followed by–]
I have cajoled and kissed when he remembers, I have left post it note reminders, and, finally, I have had tantrums.
Dear Auntie Leila,
[Another lovely reader, clearly as sweet as can be, tearing her hair out with unruly 7 yo, 4 yo, 3 yo, and needy baby, followed by –]
I’m working on giving the older ones appropriate punishments and lots of extra affection when they behave. When they are being good, I hug them and tell them I love them. When they are not being good, I tell them why they are breaking the rules and ask them to repeat the rules to me — but it’s not working. They just never listen to me at all.
Dear Jemima and Gwenny,
You have your issues and Auntie Leila understands that. These people, big and little, are truly driving you crazy. It’s hard to believe that you still walk the earth.
I can tell you a bunch of stuff (and already have, as far as those naughty children goes — just poke around in the archives under “discipline” for a while!).
However, the real issue is the sheer amount of nonsense that goes around in the guise of… of what? Of controlling each other’s behavior! Behavioral modification is one thing — maybe it’s got its uses in psychology, and although I’m not a psychologist, I doubt that affection even enters into the question.
Somehow, the ideas out there have been filtered into family life to the point that what is left is dangerous malarkey. Withholding affection? Bestowing affection as a reward?
Would we want to be treated this way?
When there is something that you need — and you need affection (especially a child) the way you need a roof and food — it just can’t be made a matter of negotiation.
What parent doesn’t give affection freely, just as he gives food and clothing? What wife or husband controls behavior with kisses?
So let’s just give kisses all the time, and give hugs all the time. Put your four-year-old on your lap if she’s having trouble getting over that fallout over her eggs. If she can’t pull it together, she might need to lie down on her bed.
I’m telling you this because I think some people don’t know that a four-year-old needs to sit on your lap. And when you’re frustrated with her, you are even less likely than ever to pick her up. Yet, it’s what she needs! Your little boy too! More picking up!
Dads, I’m talking to you…
Give your six-year-old a snuggle when he’s passing by, whether he’s behaving or not.
Use your arms and hands and your cheeks more. If you have to give a punishment, let a little time go by so that the chemicals in the body can re-settle and the mind can calm down, and then give a real, heartfelt hug and some kisses.
If events make you feel less than huggy or kissy, just explain the case. “I’m mad because you left a wet washcloth on the bed! What is this, a fraternity?” With a child, just be stern or strict or even angry (“You seriously left your bike out all night again?!”), dole out whatever punishment is necessary, preferably not a vague and meaningless threat, and then as soon as you can, go back to being warm and affectionate!
Honestly, the problem is that the powers that be (those “experts”!!) have removed all the truly effective tools. Such as? The simple knowledge that you are the parent and that your authority matters; spanking; letting Dad take care of it when he gets home; yelling, which, although it’s not ideal, has the merit of being real and locating you in that universe where you are human too and things won’t crash to oblivion if you yell once in a while.
Admit it. All those things I just listed gave you a politically correct conniption.
All that’s left now are the actually psychologically damaging techniques. The tedious time-out dance of futility, the laughable reliance on reason (because we all know that a toddler wants nothing more than to hear your reasons and explanations), and finally, most sadly, the use of feelings to manipulate. The idea of using affection as behavior modification is couched in positive terms — “smile and say ‘good job’ or ‘I love you’ when your child meets your expectation” — but naturally this will devolve into failing to be affectionate, affirming, loving, when the child has been naughty.
It is a cold way.
It’s making the expression of your love contingent on the child’s performance, which pretty much will always mean he won’t get any love, because news alert: Children are often naughty.
But after all, a naughty child is still your child. You just want behavior, but you don’t realize a family expresses itself by means of affection! I personally prefer to be loved unconditionally! When you have been naughty, don’t you still need a hug?
Warm and strict, when necessary, with the children — warm and angry with your husband. No, just kidding. Well, you know what I mean. We all get mad and that’s okay. It’s preferable, of course, to have a conversation to avoid misunderstandings and unpleasantness; it’s just not always realistic.
Let’s just not turn affection into a weapon!