Friday, April 27, 2007

Confessions of a Couch Shouter

I confess. I have become a couch shouter. My brother-in-law, Rob, created this term after he spent a deafening week with his extended family.

Couch Shouter
noun
1. One who parents from the sitting position. A parent who sends her voice to do a job that she is too lazy do herself.

Lately, too much of my parenting has been done from the sitting position.

I sit with a child for school. "Claire, you read this paragraph. I'll read the next one... Charlie, don't take Faith's Polly Pocket... Try that word again, Claire. Remember what does ou say?... Charlie, give Faith's Polly back to her. " I listen as Claire finishes her paragraph... "Charlie, do you need a spank? Give the Polly back!" And on it goes.

I am amazed at how the lack of discipline has crept in and taken over. The scales tipped toward justice at the beginning of this parenting journey. These days, grace and mercy are the tools I reach for. Justice has been stuffed in the back of the closet. To parent well, I need to use all three. I've let a lot slide this year. No more!

We are reclaiming lost ground...starting with Charlie. A timer and a stool sit in a corner of my bedroom. The timer is set for three minutes...ready for the next infraction. The seat is warm from one little backside. He has visited this cozy space for spitting... screaming... swinging a croquet mallet at his siblings. (He's got great aim. He took out three of them with one swing.) It's sinking in. "Hitting is naughty, Mama...I'm sorry for spitting, Faith...Don't bring me to time-out. I won't scream."

The sound of the drill rings in the playroom. Stuart is putting a lock on the entertainment center. The television is at the far end of the house. This allows for quality conversation in the main living areas. Unfortunately, the kids have been making the trek to the other end of the house on tiptoe. Animal Planet has set up shop in their playroom way too often. No more!

Four mason jars line the counter. Children are rewarded for jobs that are done efficiently and with excellence. Nickels and dimes clink into the jars throughout the day. This is Family Chore System 506. No more of Mama carrying the workload of seven people.

I need to parent with action... not perfection. I need to watch for when we start to veer off the road...get back on and keep going.

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