Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Streak is Over

"It behooves a father to be blameless if he expects his child to be." ~Homer

I finally did it. I finally said it. I said something that I had so prided myself on not saying that I even posted a running total of the number of days that I had not said it on this very blog site.

Then, in an instant, the streak ended. After 1,434 days... the peanut's entire life... I finally said it on a Wednesday night during dinner.

"Because I said so."

The ultimate cop out. The laziest, not-a-real-reason explanation a parent can give to a child. As soon as I said it, I knew it. I caught myself... and said, "I can't believe I just said that."

Why did I say it? Just like I explained before... I was being lazy. I said it without thinking. It happened so fast. I wish I could take it back.

There we were, at the dinner table. The nightly negotiation with the peanut had begun. She wanted to know how many more green beans she had to eat before she could be finished. I said five. She said three. I said four. She said two. You have to love her negotiating style. We settled on three. Little does my daughter know that I always put more on her plate than I expect or want her to eat.

I want her to eat five whole green beans. I put seven on her plate. She eats two. Then she asks, "how many more?" And our tango ensues...

So after we settle on a number for green beans, we move on to dessert negotiations. Namely, what she will be allowed to have for dessert, assuming she eats her green beans. Tonight, she asks for cookies, or candy. Not knowing how much fruit she ate that day, and assuming how many sugary snacks she was given, I told her she can have yogurt or applesauce for dessert. If she finished her green beans.

And here is where I slipped. "Why, daddy?" And I thought about it, and said, "Because you probably had enough sweets today." I knew that was too vague of a response for her. She kept pressing... she just wanted a reason.

Now throw in that 1) I was still getting over being sick, 2) I was tired from a long day of work while still feeling sick, 3) I had prepared a delicious meal (chicken marsala thank you very much) that my wife, who was now sick beacuse of me, could enjoy, and you get "Because I said so."

Ugh. The worst. What kind of mail-it-in parent says "because I said so?" Me. That's who. This once. Hopefully this last time.

What I meant to say was, "I bought you ice cream yesterday because you felt sick (I got her sick too) and I know you had some after lunch today." But I didn't. Instead, I mailed it in.

My wife wanted to give me a break because of my physical and mental state at the time... but that's the thing. You can't take a break. There is no break from parenting... or, at least, from good parenting.

So reset the ticker... we're starting another streak. And I'm bringing my "A" game. Again.

10 comments:

  1. There is something to be said for a child who reacts to the request BEFORE asking why. I am all for explanation but I fear if I told my daughter to duck she would be knocked out cold because the child would ask "WHY?" before doing it. I am struggling to teach her to ask questions at an APPROPRIATE time.

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  2. I , also, have never liked that saying but my streak broke just this summer. Oh well, so shoot me. If you had 2 boys age 8 and 5 ... well you get where i'm goin... My streak was 8 long years.

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  3. You lasted a heck of a lot longer than I did!

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  4. Mine have gone through the phase of asking, Why? Why? Why? Why? to every response. In the end, I follow up with 'Because *I* said so, and I'm the Mommy. I make the rules.' Now when they start down that track, I tell them I won't answer those questions anymore. I don't think you mailed it in, there's just a certain limit to how much anyone is willing to argue over green beans.

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  5. I hate those words as a child when strung into a response. So now, no matter how many times he asks why, or how, or when, I give him the broadest answer possible to his question, then as he continues to ask "why" I slowly narrow down the response until, finally, after like an hour of "why" we get down to "i've told you all I know on the subject, if you want more, be a little more diligent in your reading lessons so you can research it to your hearts content". That normally ends the discussion. Anytime he asks why after that statement has been made becomes an "I don't know, why don't you find out and tell me." answer. Is that bad parenting? I can say, with all honesty, I haven't, in his 4.5 years, used the words "Because I said so"...

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  6. Found you via Triberr. I'm hooked. You're awesome.

    ...that is all.

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  7. I can think of a billion and one worse things to say to your child than "Because I said so." IMO, NBD.

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    1. A BILLION and one? Really? I'd like to see you try. I choose not to appeal to the least common denominator. Who's gonna brag about not saying "Go eff yourself" or "You're worthless" to their kid? While a lot of this has been tongue-in-cheek from the beginning, this is something I do take pride in. Maybe it's the way I was brought up. Maybe my parents left off at a higher point than others who may say these BILLION and one other things you can think of. But they did say "because I said so." And I think that's crap. Not that they were crappy parents... just that it was a crappy thing to say.

      I believe in engaging my daughter whenever possible or appropriate. And "because I said so" totally shuts things down right from the beginning. It's funny that you commented on this post because "The Streak" has become second nature to me now. I don't even think about it. But since you brought it up, ball's in your court... BILLION and one? Let's hear 'em. Email me: DKLblog@gmail.com

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  8. I don't know how long I lasted but it was quite a while (my sons are 8 & 9). I never liked that phrase as a kiddo, I like talking ;-) & I want my boys to understand so I didn't mind explaining things. Alas, my 9 year old has worn me down to a tiny nub because no answer is ever satisfactory. So I finally said to him one day when he complained that I used the dreaded phrase, "Well nothing else I say is good enough so that is what you get."
    Sometimes, it is okay to expect that our kiddos do what we ask because we asked them to. My 9 year old has always been treated more like a small adult, in how I speak with him, using big words and such, and now he thinks he's an equal. Every so often he needs the reminder that he is the kiddo and I'm the mom.
    All that said, I think this is a wonderful endeavor and I hope you'll continue to update us on your progress as Peanut gets older.

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  9. I've never tried not to say it. I say it often and with great pride. It's one of those phrases I heard when I was a kid, and I longed for the days when I'd grow up and have kids of my own, just so I could say it to them.
    To be fair, I only resort to it when I've tried everything else, and nothing is getting through. I just get tired of reasoning with tiny humans who just aren't capable of reasoning.
    *shrug*
    Don't judge.

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