Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: The cluelessness of parenting

Parents have no idea what they are doing. I don’t know what I’m doing, my friends don’t know what they’re doing and your parents had no idea what to do with you. Yet, I carry on the age-old tradition of making it up as I go along, even though it doesn’t always go as smoothly as I’d like.

Mr. Carter is at an age where he realizes he can say no and utilizes that new ability often. I try not to squash that independence, but obviously there are times where his defiance needs to be corralled. But it’s the spontaneous out-of-your-ass solution that you have to come up with in the moment that turns an intelligent adult into a bumbling fool.

One such incident happened the other day. My son got testy because he wasn’t able to be lifted and look out a small bathroom window a second time. During his protest, I decided to teach him the word “appreciation.” I sat him down and made him repeat the word, and told him it meant to say thank you to the world. As the sentence was coming out of my mouth, I realized this was likely very ineffective since he is THREE and can barely say the word, let alone understand its definition. It’s not the first time I’ve thrown a big word at him. Patience was the lesson last week, and I told him that word meant to wait without getting mad. Seems vocabulary has become my weapon of choice to fight off a tantrum.

Other parents get far more creative when it comes to getting their kids to behave.

One friend’s mother got fed up when she and her brother wouldn’t do their homework. Mom told them to get in the car and drove them to the West Paces Ferry area. Pointing to the large mansions, she explained to my friend and her sibling that these homeowners did their homework. Then she drove them to a poorer part of Atlanta and explained those residents did not do theirs. When they got back home, she said the decision to finish their work was now completely up to them and where they wanted to live.

Another friend’s mom took him to the police station when he was little, after he spat at an adult. The officers followed her lead and went through the motions of booking him and pretended they were going to take him to jail. Just as he was escorted down the hall, he broke down and ran back apologetically to his mother.

These out-of-the-box solutions are required throughout the child’s adolescence. I knew someone who got busted smoking and was told to finish the entire pack while his parents stood nearby. I’m not sure how many it took for him to vomit his entire body onto the ground, but after that, he never smoked again.

There is no class to take on raising a child, and even if there was, it wouldn’t do you any good since every kid is unique and requires personalized attention. I guess all I can do is love him honestly and do the best I can. I might also need to simplify the words I throw out at him in times of trouble.