Werewolves and Cheezits and Sticks…OH MY!

I have to say, we have lucked out in the tantrum department. Mostly because we’re likely to laugh at the kids as we step over them should they resort kicking and screaming. There really is nothing more effective in squashing temper tantrums than ridicule. What can I say; we’re a tough crowd here at Chez Faherty. Unfortunately, luck runs out and on occasion, one of the kids acts…well, like a kid. Usually, I’m very lucky to have just one of the children having an “off” day. Yet, sometimes the stars seem to align perfectly…and during a full moon. When this happens, all three lose their minds and become “THOSE” kids. Last week the stars and/or moon were perfectly aligned for the Faherty clan.

I have a theory about the cycle of the moon and it’s effects on the adorable little humans residing in my house. You see, during the full moon, the adorable little humans morph into Crazed Fanged Beasts. Did you hear the echo when you read that? Here, let me say it again. CRAZED FANGED BEASTS! Beasts…Beasts….beasts…

No, I’m not suggesting that lycanthropy (turning into a werewolf) is rampant in my household during a full moon. My children don’t become extra hairy, sprout fangs or howl at the moon. However, they do scream, exhibit short-tempers, and the smaller two have been known to bite when provoked. It all got me wondering, and after the last moon I felt compelled to do a bit of research. Do you know what I found? I found that The Bradford Royal Infirmary conducted a study about behavior and the moon that was published in the British Medical Journal in December 2000. The Bradford Royal Infirmary reported that dog bite admissions to hospitals in England were twice as common during a full moon. Interesting, but I’m not worried about my dog. So far, I can find no conclusive evidence that the behavior of my children is influenced by the moon. Yet, read on and maybe you’ll begin to see my point.

August 10th: New Moon. This has absolutely no bearing at all on my “study” except for the fact that it made me think of shirtless Jacob. Sink your eyes into this:


Where was I? Oh..right..
August 13th: The planets are in Triple Conjunction with the Moon. Now mind you, I have no real understanding of astronomy, but this sounds like a good explanation for crazed children, no?

It all started innocently enough with a trip to the beach. In fact, it was a promising outing. There weren’t any obnoxious/weirdo tourists in our vicinity, yet oodles of well behaved kids who were willing to share beach toys. Joe and Gwen hit it off immediately with some new buddies, the weather was perfect, the tide was out…enter Kate and a box of Cheezits. It took precisely 30 minutes for the older couple sitting next to us to go from admiring the “adorable” baby to cringing in fear as she screamed and flung her body in the sand at their feet because her Cheezits were soggy.
There I was, faced with the dilemma of a quiet exit, yet one that said ‘I know that my child is being a complete a-hole so we’re leaving and you are all welcome’ or, I could have stayed and made the entire beach endure Kate’s terror filled Cheezit rampage. Yes, I just used the word a-hole when referring to my toddler. I’m honest and I’d never say it to her face. (Refer to my blog entry, Some Parents Eat Their Young). By the way, I opted for the quiet exit which turned out to be really loud since Gwen was so ticked off that we were leaving.

Let’s jump to our evening foray to soccer camp. I’m thinking that it was right around this time that those planets were getting closer to their “conjunction” with the moon because Hell was about to break loose on the soccer field.

We were all napped up and ready to go. There I was, wrangling Kate and our chairs, water bottles and soccer balls. Suddenly I realized that I had lost sight of Joe. Upon scanning the park, I located Joe on a hill waving a giant stick next to another kid. You know that slow-motion tunnel effect in movies? I can only describe it as a kind of out of body experience. One where the character foresees impending doom then suddenly gets sucked back into her body in time to save the day. Yeah. That’s exactly what I was feeling as from what seemed like miles away, I told (screeched at) Joe to, “PUT THE STICK DOWN! PUT….THE…STICK…DOWWWWWN!”

Of course, he couldn’t hear *ignored* me and continued waving the stick around until he whacked the kid’s glasses off his face. The kid’s mom went running up the hill while what seemed like the entire town stared at me and/or my kid. THAT kid…my failure. What to Expect When You’re Expecting never mentioned what I should do when my kid beats another kid with a giant stick. Did I wait too long to have children? What’s the etiquette for this situation? I’m almost 40 and I’m not equipped for this! As I stood glued to the soccer field questioning my skills as a mother, I watched the other mommy glare at my son, who for her, had become “that” kid.

Maybe I’m too hard on myself and expect too much of my tiny people. I mean, just because we waited until we were on the verge of AARP to reproduce didn’t mean that our children were required to pop out with the ability to attend wine tastings and admire fine art, right?

My research has shown that there is no conclusive proof that the cycle of the moon has any effect on human behavior. However, soul searching has brought me to the following realization. I do not understand 6 year old boys at all. Bitchy three year old? Got it. Tantrum throwing toddler? I’ll tolerate that. As long as no one turns into a werewolf, we’re going to be just fine.

Have any of you had these moments, or is it just me?

Reinforcing Good Behavior: Making the Princess Movie Work For You.

You know those days when you’re out and about and you cross paths with “that” kid? Come on…you know the kid that I’m talking about. She can be found wreaking havoc in any number of public places. Usually, the lucky soul accompanying the little angel is either feigning cluelessness or wanting to melt into the earth from the embarrassment of it all. Please, don’t tell me you haven’t lingered to watch from the corner of your eye while smugly saying to yourself, “Self, thank GOD you don’t have a kid”, or “Self, thank GOD that isn’t your kid!”

Is it horrible that I’ve been known exploit another kid’s crappy behavior for my own gain? I’ve seen my own wide-eyed children absorbing the offending kid’s mannerisms and watching for the parental response. Believe me, they’re processing the situation and rationalizing future use of the bad behavior in question.

Friends, this is a golden opportunity! You should jump on the chance to use some other mommy’s moment of public shame for your own benefit. This is the time to reiterate that bad behavior is socially unacceptable. For example, if the mother in question appears close to tears, don’t offer her kind words of support. Instead you should quietly say, “Look at what that girl is doing! She’s making her mommy cry.” Throw in a bit of hand wringing and say, “Oh dear, that poor mommy is sooooo sad.” While you’re saying this, don’t be afraid to paste an overly dramatic, wistfully sad expression on your face. One that shows empathy for the mom. Shortly, you’ll notice that your princess loving preschooler can’t help but feel involved and somewhat conspiratorial. After all, her own mommy is suddenly adopting facial expressions normally used by her favorite princess. By the way, peppering your sentences with princess-style language can’t hurt either. Interjecting expressions like, “Oh, my!” or “The poor dear…” can only serve to underscore your princess-ish persona.

The “Sad Princess” Expression

Overly dramatic resonates with the preschool set. Remember, they’re accustomed to watching the painfully sad expression of the Disney Princess as she experiences death/destruction/abandonment/neglect/abuse. Plus, your child is still looking to you for behavioral cues. So by adopting the “Sad Princess” facial expression, your child is likely to mimic your sorrow and, if you’re lucky, might even look at you and say, “That little girl is being bad, right mommy?” Now, this is the important part…while you have her attention, let out a big sigh, sadly shake your head and slowly tear your eyes away from the Mom-In-Hell. Make eye contact with your child and with lightening speed, change your expression to one of sheer joy and say, “I’m sooooo glad that you are such a well behaved girl! You would NEVER do that your mommy.” Give her a kiss, lovingly stroke her hair and then adopt a thoughtful look of surprise. (One that you might see in cartoon character whose brilliant idea inexplicably causes a light bulb to appear over his head.)
The “I have a Great Idea” Expression
Yes, it is at this moment that you should employ the most powerful tool in your blatant exploitation of bad behavior. You might say, “Oh my! I have a WONDERFUL idea! You’ve been such a lovely girl, why don’t we get you a treat?” BAM!! You can’t beat it. I’ve just served up an incredible method for reinforcing appropriate social behavior. Simply make the tantrum throwing kid the villain and the mommy automatically becomes the helpless Princess. It works like a charm.
The “Super Happy, You’re Such a Good Girl” Expression
So, next time the kids ask to watch Mulan/Princess and the Frog/Beauty and the Beast, don’t think of it such simple terms as the 127th viewing. Approach it as research and study the mannerisms of those princesses. Practice them in the mirror and store them in your arsenal. Now…if only I could figure out a way to have little birdies and woodland creatures follow me around…
-Toddler Discipline: Effective and Appropriate Tactics (webmd.com)

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