Monday, March 05, 2007

Balance is the key.

After reading the latest from the lovely and gracious Suse, plus all the ensuing combox discussions it struck me that I ought do my bit to reconcile the Version 1 style of blogging vs. Version 2 style of blogging.

This inestimable public service I hereby christen Version 1.5.

The trick -- and it takes some practice, granted -- is to develop a benevolent and kind solipsism. In my case, all I want to do is be left alone to read in peace, have a pleasant tipple or two, and draw forth much slavish fawning over my wit, wardrobe and cooking. Well, by "much" I mean "not so much that it cuts into my reading time."

This is my psychological point of reference...my center, if you will. Every effort I make is geared towards putting me back there. While there, I am a kind, gentle, loving soul. However, reality is a powerful motivating force and I am often drawn off-center. Sometimes to such an extent that even I have grave difficulties returning.

Children, f'rinstance.

Sometimes they insist on playing with me and, because I am not a complete lowlife bastid, I acquiesce. The goal becoming to tire out the child(ren) in question. "Let's see who can do the most pushups!" I might say, pitting one against the other. Or they may skate around the block while supervised by a loving parent on bicycle. Pretty soon the cry goes heavenward "Daddy, I'm tired."

So I then decant each child in a shower, with plenty of soapy distractions and I go back to my reading for another good 30 minutes.

Of course, there are times when the children don't want so much paternal attention as they do paternal vexation. Which is understandable. Freud, Adler, Jung, Skinner & Joyce Brothers all wrote extensively of this phenomenon. This is tricky, because the temptation is to shout at them to such an extent your lungs swap places with your diaphragm. AFter all, you've just told the boy to do his homework for the third time and, in lieu of same he has turned his room upside down and scrawled anatomically incorrect caricatures of zoo animals on the bedroom wall. The impulse to rattle the roof with your decibels is too strong for many. The forbidden fruit of parenting beckons and many often eat it at this point.

But shouting has a serious drawback in my view. It requires effort. One must summon up blood pressure, expand the thoracic cavity, and send over much ventilated wrath across the vocal cords. I'm tired of just thinking such a thing. Furthermore, if the blogosphere is to be believed, many are washed over with a pounding surf of guilt afterwards. I can't fathom going though all that trouble just to be miserable. One can get just as miserable by just listening to one's spouse's friends.

What I do, and which I consider far preferable, is to raise my voice (some effort is expended, sure, but there's no avoiding it) and issue a threat. The threat has to be pretty severe, so the child(ren) in question must consider the contingency well nigh unlivable. Then you issue a timeline. Then you walk away and go read for a while, maybe having a cocktail if it's the appropriate time for such a thing.

Upon return you will see either of two scenarios: The matter has been rectified to your satisfaction or (if we're talking about my kids) it hasn't. So you carry out the threat, reminding the young and probably lachrymose malefactor:

1- This hurts you more than it hurts him (because you'd rather be reading than removing the DVD player or incarcerating his TurboManTM Action Figure),
2- This is for his own good (because if he continues vexing you just might sell him for medical experiments this time or, at a bare minimum issue a spanking appropriate to the offense), and
3- He was warned. This last one bears repeating frequently, in your best James Mason voice. (Or, if you're of a female disposition, Julie Andrews voice)

This intersects beautifully in the matter of housekeeping.

If your day's goal is to spend it on the sofa, reading, or shopping. There will be relatively little to accomplish, housekeeping-wise. (Mind you, if you have pets, all bets are off.) A bit of music as you stuff washing machines, dryers, or perambulate with a sweeper etc. makes the task at hand comparatively pleasant. The only dangers to household neatness are those whom you have offsprung. But if you keep in mind that anything they get dirty they must clean up, the stress evaporates.

Which leaves cooking. Since I happen to love cooking and the kids love helping this is no chore at all. Cleaning is easy, because the dishwasher does this. The tricky bit -- and follow closely here -- is removing previously cleaned plates and storing them properly. Convincing the tykes this is a sporting matter with some incentive (toys or currency or extra bits of dessert) for showing enthusiasm and efficiency. Well, efficiency, at any rate.

I will be signing books in the lobby afterwards.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 8:28 AM

8 Comments

  • Blogger Caro posted at 5:34 PM, March 05, 2007  
    Show off! LOL
  • Blogger Caro posted at 5:35 PM, March 05, 2007  
    On a serious note, I'm happy for your kids.

    You really sound like a great parent.

    I wish I had received one of those when growing up.
  • Blogger Stomper Girl posted at 9:18 PM, March 05, 2007  
    Oh yes. I have perfected my Julie Andrews voice.

    And shouting is my big gun, if you will. So I never want to bring out the big gun unless I really, really have no other choice, because I don't have a back-up plan if that doesn't work!
  • Blogger Badger posted at 9:35 PM, March 05, 2007  
    Well (a) you are preaching to the choir, and (2) no amount of awesome parenting on my part, and I am a TOTALLY AWESOME PARENT if I do say so myself, is going to change me from a version 2 to a version 1 blogger. Because kvetch is my middle name.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 10:09 PM, March 05, 2007  
    Caro,

    Me too.

    SG,

    The trick is to hold the destiny of something the child holds TOO dear.

    Badge,

    I'm only asking for version 1.5, kvetching is so.much.effort.

    -J.
  • Blogger Badger posted at 8:00 AM, March 06, 2007  
    For those of us to whom kvetching comes as naturally as breathing, it's the suppression thereof that requires the effort.

    I'm just sayin'.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 8:03 AM, March 06, 2007  
    [blinks dumbly at screen]

    (cartoon sound effects optional)

    -J.
  • Blogger BabelBabe posted at 9:32 AM, March 07, 2007  
    please come live at my house. because i have been known to do the vacuuming with a book in my hand. it's not terribly efficient but it makes me happy.

    as for the yelling - i yell a lot. mostly because that's how everyone in my family conversed - nothing lower than a shout, please. it doesn't mean i am mad, or not. but when i get very very VERY quiet - trouble.
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