About respect, table manners, and the need to quit this gig

Frankly, I have reached my limit. Not only that, I want to quit parenting.

Today.

Here’s the thing. We yell. We get angry. We yell more. Sometimes I ask myself, who started the yelling? It’s so easy for me to just blame the kids…

I instinctively know my responsibility is to parent them. Which means I should not let them get to me, or get me engaged in their issues. Or contribute when the yelling starts.

It’s very hard to stay quiet when they’re all yelling. I admit it, sometimes I yell louder than they do. Just ask the neighbours…

I don’t know if I can continue to do this. I feel like I’ve already lost my thread, and by stepping back, ignoring, it’s just getting worse. You really can’t give an inch…

I get that kids leave messes. I do. I want them to feel comfortable in the home and play with their stuff. But do they have to have it ALL out in the communal area, at the same time no less? When the beanie boo explosion remains in the corner of the living/rec room I turn a blind eye, but when she starts adding every conceivable other toy on top of her stuffies, at what point can I say something and not feel like such a jerk? Because as soon as I say something she starts yelling. And then I start yelling…

“You’re in school all day, I use this room too. Here’s a basket for the beanie boos.” I might say to her. She’ll put them in the basket, shove the basket in a corner, and I can now live with that. She will play with them again, I know this.

But then….while playing with her beanie boos, she takes out her craft supplies. And an activity box. Loose paper, stickers….she plays hard. She does. It’s great to see her so creative. Soon, it’s time for homework/dinner/an activity/bedtime and she walks away from it, leaving it behind.

“I’ll play with it later”, she always says. But later is bedtime and the next day is school and after school she’s got gymnastics, and then she’s tired and wants to watch tv…Her pencil case which she took out to do homework but is needed at school remains forgotten on the little corner table. Along with the school and public library books. And the clothes she took off when changing into her gymnastics outfit. Below that, a creative mess of stuffies and other assorted debris. Left for days, without a second thought. It’s not bothering anyone other than me…

Maddening.

It doesn’t take long and my little corner in the communal living area is a disaster in the making. Add on top of that the stuff other members of this family contribute and before you know it, there’s no place to sit on the couch to unwind.

And the boy…don’t get me started with the boy. Just today as I unloaded the groceries from the van I see one hockey water bottle and not one, not two, but three jackets left in there on the floor.

Three missing jackets, not counting the one he left behind on the streetcar yesterday.

I’m not picking them up.

But that’s not really about manners, that’s more about respecting your living situation, and your things. Also I’m in a mood and want to get this off my chest. So since I’m complaining, here’s my observance about table manners:

They don’t have any.

How did this happen? Both of us adults eat with manners. We use cutlery, we don’t lounge in our chairs, we don’t kneel on our chairs or lean back into pillows confiscated from the couch to increase comfort…(Who authorized that? Not me, that’s who.)

The kids, almost 9 and close to 12, complain about my insistence to sit on their bum on the chair with their legs down and their body fairly close pushed to the table. So that when they move the food from the plate into their mouths, the food doesn’t have to travel far and inevitably land on their lap, on the floor, on the seat cushion…

How long does it take to eat a meal? Ten minutes or so? And we have proper chairs with cushions, a proper table, and place mats with napkins. We are not savages. We use cutlery to eat most food. They find it challenging to use a fork and knife to cut meat.

So what? Here’s your chance to learn…

I never ate like they do as a kid, and I don’t eat like that now.

Doesn’t anyone care about manners anymore?

Is it me? Did I cause this laissez-faire attitude when it comes to manners?

They want to watch tv while they eat. Sometimes we do that, if there’s a special game on, we have certain types of food (like nachos, or wings. We all eat like pigs then). But for the most part, I don’t approve of tv, or reading electronics at the table. (It’s one thing when you’re alone, I eat in front of my tablet when I’m home alone.)

Seriously, I am beyond exhausted of having to continue to enforce, and remind, over and again, how to do simple things. How to clean up after yourself. How to hold a fork, use a knife to cut a pork chop into bite-sized pieces instead of grabbing it with your hand, of picking up the laundry in the bathroom after a shower and placing it in the designated laundry basket.

When they leave their trail of debris, I remove myself from my thing I’m doing. I take them off the couch, off the electronics. “Come with me”, I say. Then I point. Once I point they complain, or, in her case, create loud, irritating noises.

Now the family dynamic is disrupted and causes friction among us. And then, I second guess, I doubt my parenting method and blame myself for causing their meltdowns. I blame myself the same way that they blame me.

“You’re so mean!” they yell. Sometimes they say worse…

All because I don’t want to live in a landfill. Because I have a need to walk into a bathroom and not step over dirty undies and socks cast on the floor. Because I don’t want to see knees at the table, or disgusting eating habits. Because I want to enjoy a communal living area without drowning in their endless stuff.

I just don’t want to do this anymore.

I quit.

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2 thoughts on “About respect, table manners, and the need to quit this gig

  1. Oh, my heart does go out to you here. This is a great description of the way that day-to-day parenting can really wear you down. You know you need to enforce, enforce, enforce, but seriously, how many times can you say the same thing over again? How many times can you tell them to pick up their stuff before you resort to yelling it so they know you’re serious? SIGH. And the saddest thing is – my husband and I often remark on this – is that when you *do* lose it – to a degree that you regret it – suddenly they are on their best behaviour and actually doing the stuff you want them to do. DOUBLE SIGH.

    Hope you gave yourself a good night (or two) off before re-fortifying for the battle. Because it’s ongoing…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your kind words. I was just at my wits’ end…accumulation of many weeks of transitioning took its toll. I actually almost didn’t publish this post, and then wanted to retract it, but when I saw a link of a woman with 3 kids who had some major issues that sounded similar to mine and saw that she had a thread of 24 comments from 24 DIFFERENT people in a similar position I thought what the heck do I have a blog for? Sometimes I gotta vent.

    I’m all better now. 🙂 Thank you Lynn. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    Claudette

    Like

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