The Dishes Are Undone — A Review of Dr. G’s Parenting Guide

When I think of the issue I need the most help with at this stage of parenting my children aged 13, 11, and 5, I think of chores. Specifically, I think of the dishes. I don’t mind doing the dishes; it’s calming sometimes, but it helps if there isn’t a ton. If the sink is full, I’m more likely to not want to do the dishes. I will wash what I need, then get upset after dinner that everything is dirty again. And then I go to bed because ain’t nobody got time to care about the dishes until the next morning when that someone has to wash something in order to use it. It’s a vicious cycle.

Chores and their importance to your family — the development and independence of your child and maintenance of your parental sanity — is just one of the topics covered by parenting expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa (Dr. G, but I get to call her Debi. Please to be eyeing me jealously) in her book, Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent you Hate!

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Let’s back up: I described her as a parenting expert. Early on in the book she explains that she is just that — an expert — on the four boys who live in her home. I am an expert on my children just as you are an expert on yours. Hers is a parenting guide with practical advice, not a preachy “you must do this because you’re singlehandedly ruining future generations.” Her suggestions are understandable, common sense methods to get kids to do what needs doing, even how to respond to the inevitable I ain’t doin’ that.

So, dishes. I created a chart (with colors!) that showed who was to do what on what day after we sat as a family and chose which days made sense for what task (nothing on Friday nights. I’m no monster). Since they were so excited about the chart, I thought there’d be no resistance if I had to remind them whose day it was to do what. To be clear, there are some things that are done daily: sweeping, clearing the table. There are also some things that I wish they’d do on their own, like empty a bathroom trash can when it’s full because come on, how do you not see that?

But then there are the things we chose days for like doing the dishes or folding laundry. In under a week I was gently reminding and then full on DO IT OR ELSE. And then? Then I got lazy and tired of needling and went back to doing it myself because I do it best and it’s easiest and IT’S DRIVING ME CRAZY.

Chores teach good lessons. Children learn to contribute and expect things from themselves in addition to those around them. And many hands make light work. Lighter work for you means more time to enjoy your family, and better parenting.

Dr. G gives the perfect advice about why I need to be consistent, too:

Chores teach children how a family works day to day. Doing chores protects them (and you) from the entitled attitude that everyone around them should make things happen for them without their own work.

What happens when your child doesn’t do something? Consequences. Stick with them. It pays off. Think of some beforehand. It works. Dr. G even advises on what to do if none of her suggestions work. That’s how effective the book is: she knows not everything will work in every family, for every child. And yet, she tackles that as well. Read chapter 59. You’ll thank me.

Think of the myriad things entailed in effective parenting. There are so many things we must cover, explain, teach, show our children before we should release them into the world to act as though they have no home training. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, kindness, sharing come to mind. What doesn’t usually come to mind, though, is seeking external ideas on how to handle these things. I may gripe to my friends and family about something parenting related, but I’m not necessarily expecting an answer. I assume I’ve tried everything they’d offer anyway. Desperate, I usually turn to a book. When you get to the bottom of your idea jar, where do you go? There are books on everything, but I guarantee you will not find one that will be as relatable and filled with usable suggestions as Dr. G’s guide to effective parenting. Even the layout is perfect: it’s not meant to be read cover to cover. Rather, you pick the section you need help with right then and bam! Ideas. Adapt as you need to, but at least you’ve gotten new ideas.

Discipline, resilience, kindness, responsibility. Dr. G covers these things and more. Got a stubborn toddler? She’s got you covered. Got a willful elementary schooler? A sassy middle schooler? Covered. A rude teenager? That too. Tired of your own yelling or need help instituting consequences? Those too. Dr. G’s advice contains no judgment, no snark. It’s simply useful, easy to implement, stick-to-able stuff.

So, do you need help, fresh ideas, even a licensed professional to let you know you aren’t ruining your kids? Here’s your chance to win a copy of Dr. G’s book! Leave a comment to receive one entry toward winning.
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Learn more about Dr. G on her YouTube channel, Ask Dr. G.  

 

I received an advance copy of Dr. G’s book, but all rambling thoughts are my own.    

I Have Psychic Powers But I Rebuke Them In The Name of Idris Elba

Listen. I’m not going to bullshit you. I know how this is going to sound, but I also know that you know I am of (mostly) sound mind. I am not going to try to sell you a van down by the river. I am not going to try to sell you a timeshare available on the sixth Sunday of the month on an island reachable only by a blind dolphin-guided boat. I am, however, going to tell you something you may find unbelievable. But, you’re in luck! It’s much more believable than Tupac still being alive. Please don’t stone me.

Following is an almost, but not quite, semi-precise account of what transpired today and how I learned I have psychic powers that I should totally be compensated for.

There I was, minding my business, riding along on the bus when my brain said to my eyes, hey, y’all, look left. I think there’s a bug. So, my eyes, curious, looked left. And sure enough, there it was: a small brown roach crawling on a young man’s gym bag. He was standing beside the woman seated next to me. The bug stopped and looked at me.

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Let me stop here to explain my reaction. If you don’t have a previous traumatic roach experience, it’s gonna be hard for me to enlighten you. But suffice to say: no matter how clean your house, no matter how bug free it is, if your neighbor fumigates her house, and does so without even telling you, you’re gonna have visitors. I think someone may have flattened that neighbor’s tires. Maybe.

Anyway. I saw the roach, the roach saw me. And then it kept crawling. I watched it.

And I watched it.

And then it turned around, winked at me, and disappeared.

Naturally, I did this against the window.

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The stages of heebie jeebies:

Mental panic.

Where did it go? That roach is on me!

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Where did it go? That roach is in my shoe. [Scratches foot.]

[10 second pause] What is that feeling? Is that a tingling? That roach is in my hair!

Person inside my head: Bend over and shake it out! Wait, no! Don’t bend over; your head will be closer to the bag! But never mind; it’s already on your sweater.

[SMACKS SELF]

SAVE. ME. IDRIS ELBA.

<end scene>

It’s silly. I know that. You don’t have to tell me that. I know. [Scratches foot]. So, I acted like the adult I am. I come into work. I sit down my bags. [SMACKS THE OTHER ARM WHERE I FEEL IT CRAWLING!] And then I promptly empty and shake out each one. Lunch bag. Bag with book, shoes, and random papers, probably some lotion. Purse.

Nothing. See? Crisis averted.

[10 minutes pass]

You guys! I am psychic. Don’t make that face at me; it’s true. I don’t know when it happened, but today it showed itself.

Let me explain again.

I manifested that bug. Ten minutes after convincing myself it was silly to think the bug had somehow, some way, gotten itself from the exterior of a gym bag in the aisle, across the person beside me, and onto me or into one of my bags, THE SMALL BROWN ROACH CRAWLED ACROSS MY DESK, STOPPED, AND LOOKED AT ME.

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And I said, “Well look at that. I’m not crazy after all.” I’m also not letting a roach crawl across my desk — WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? I smashed that bitch with my shoe, then cleaned my shoe bottom with a Clorox wipe. I’ve been scratching ever since because surely there are others, hiding, just waiting for their chance to find a new, warm home. There’s never just one roach. It’s how they’ve survived this long on Earth. The roach buddy system.

But! Imagine if I could use this new-found ability to manifest useful things like money, shoe inserts, and unlimited Utz sour cream and onion rippled chips on demand. It’s all about the law of attraction. I didn’t WANT to attract that bug, but I did. I WANT to have chips appear. All it takes is concentration. Apparently. And maybe hysteria. And a dirty ass gym bag.

I am so gonna be rich.

[Feels something on back, smacks self. Again.]

The Fucket List

Listen. I’m old enough now to realize there are simply some things I will never do. Rather than a bucket list, things to do before I die, here’s my fucket list: things I’m never likely gonna do. Make no mistake, though. These are things I probably at one point really wanted rather than stuff I would never consider.

So, following in my friend Kerstin’s blogsteps from earlier this year, fucket (her list was more along the lines of things she will continue to do, because fucket. My list is, um, kinda different):

1. I will never be a Rockette.
2. I will never win the Pulizter prize for musical composition.
3. I will never be president.
4. I will never be a law professor.
5. I will never have four children.
6. I will never be a Hollywood actress.
7. I will never be a trapeze artist in a circus.
8. I will never dance onstage with George Clinton.
9. I will never be an astronaut.
10. I will never be a surgeon.
11. I will never swim with dolphins AS MY SOURCE OF INCOME.
12. I will never write a white paper on the systemic risk of continued lack of financial regulatory reform. (WHAT?)
13. I will never be in charge of a grocery store’s layout.
14. I will never be an official taste tester of new alcoholic mixed drinks AS MY SOURCE OF INCOME. (At home doesn’t count. I already have that job there.)
15. I will never sing backup for Isaac Hayes.

I could think of more, I’m sure. But why? You’re probably still wondering why I can’t make #1 come true.

This Ain’t Livin’

My birthday is tomorrow. Two years ago I wrote this. While most of that still rings true, I’m struggling overall. How do you live a life with such profound disappointment on its outskirts, clinging like a refusing to let go mother? This is me. This is separate from marriage and motherhood and being a good friend and a wonderful aunt and a great employee and a determined citizen and a voice in the world through this blog. This is about me as a person. And the person I am feels let down by herself and has no idea how to fix it.

Maybe it’s my birthday. It’s another year upon which my ultimate goals in life have not been realized. It’s another year upon which I can complain about that then do nothing to remedy it. I fully realize this is what I’m used to, lachrymosely lamenting life. I know this, though: I think about this all year; it only culminates into my discussing or mentioning it on my birthday (or New Year’s) because it’s such a pointed day. It’s supposed to mean something. I’m supposed to have learned something and be able to show a difference each year.

This year feels much like last year and the year before and the year before felt. I’ve done nothing.

OK, so this isn’t a request for you to remind me of the things I have done. I don’t need that. What I need is a way out of being a 41-year-old who is weighed down by should haves and if onlies. What I need is a way out of not doing. It’s so easy to lie down instead. It’s easy to check Facebook instead. It’s easy to do anything else instead. If anything else meant anything more to me, I’d do it. It’s as simple as that.

I made a list.

I wrote down the things I have to do, need to do, I want to do. Need usually gets eerily similar to and familiar with want, but what I found was outside of the essential eat, sleep, go to work, take care of my family, and pay the bills mostly on time, I was right into want. I want to write. I want to write full time to see if what I think I can create can be created. I want to vacation. I want to remodel parts of the house. I want new boots. Those last three things, though? I know those are things I can do without. I haven’t been on vacation since 2004. I can neither afford to remodel the house or buy boots. These are not things that break me down. What breaks me down is the realization that I am 41 years old, feel as though my accomplishments are puny in relation to what I haven’t done, what I WANT to do, and my bedroom floor is filthy.

You know this post has no real point, right? I’m just trying to talk myself through like I do every year, over and over again. When does the cycle change? Can I change it? Can you tell me how to change it? Is there a book? Where is my life manual? This is about more than just mere wanting, because if want was enough, I’d be living in satisfaction. But I’m not. I’m living in, am weighed down by, and trying to get from under, frustration and displeasure. I don’t hate my life, by far. My kids are turning out pretty damn good. I still get the stomach flutters looking at my husband (sometimes. And sometimes I want to stab him with the knives that he keeps putting in the drain pointing up, but that’s a discussion for another time). We aren’t financially rich, but we are family and happiness rich. But.

When do I find professional richness? When do I find that missing piece of my story, where I become happy because I have finally done what I am meant to do? When?

And how?