Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Art of Motivating and Divorce

When you are the child of divorced parents, you learn very quickly how to manipulate...errr, motivate your parents.  Massage them to your way of thinking, if you will.  Granted I was like 30 when my parents separated, but Minion 1 was 4 when her parents separated and she is a pro…at attempting this.  It’s like this magic thing that happens to you when your parents separate.  Sure, you now have to divide up holidays but you get so much more bank for your buck.


Me: Hey Mom, did I tell you that Dad got Minion 1and Minion 2 new bikes for Christmas?

Mom gave the kids a laptop that year.  I’m happy because I didn’t have to pay for any of it!! (although it’s probably on the list of things I’ll be burning in hell for…but I digress…)

I notice my minions trying this:

Minion 1: at Dad’s house we’re allowed to eat hot Cheetos and candy!
Me: Really? Well let’s get your dad on the phone and explain to him how much money I spend on your teeth because of the candy. We’ll also explain to him how horribly unhealthy hot Cheetos are and…
Minion 1: I’ll just tell him I’m not allowed to eat those things next time I’m there.
Me: that’s a good idea


Minion 2: I’m allowed to play wii for as long as I want at Dad’s house.
Me: Really?  Let’s get your dad on the phone and talk about the importance of reading and homework over wii time…
Minion 2: fine, I’ll go read.

What I’ve learned in recent years is I deal with my kids a lot like how I deal with my parents.  Observe:

Me: Minion 1, please vacuum
Minion 1: I don’t want to.
Me: fine, I’ll have Minion 2 do it.
Minion 1: no, no, no, it’s my chore.  I’ll do it!

*GT sits back and enjoys the sweet sounds of someone else vacuuming!!*

Much like the tactics that work on Mom don’t work on Dad (and vice versa), this maneuver does not work on Minion 2.  He actively tries to get Minion 1 to do his chores.  Motivating Minion 2 is more like this:

Me: Minion 2, go do the laundry
Minion 2: I don’t want to.
Me: fine but the laundry will get piled so high in the basement you will no longer be able to get to the wii.
Minion 2: do you want the laundry done with or without fabric softener?

*sure, many GT “dry clean only” clothes have had to be sacrificed but not only do I no longer do laundry, I get to shop for new clothes!!*

My point being (yes, there is one) when you are going through divorce and learning to be a single parent, and trying to get along with “he who must not be named”, you may not notice the subtle ways that your kids will try to manipulate you.  Plus, you want to be the fun one.  This is one of the most frustrating things about being the custodial parent.  You are now the sole disciplinarian.  They go to dad’s house for 36 hours, they play games, they eat junk, they stay up late.  Then they come home and for the next 12 days you have to make them do their homework, wash behind their ears, snack on fruit…it sucks ass!  Seriously! Do you know why we go to Disney once a year?  Because for those brief few days, I get to be the fun parent.  I get to enjoy my minions without the bounds of having to raise them to be decent, responsible human beings.  We can just be as three people enjoying their time together in a magical place that doesn’t require me to send them to school on time. Oh look, I’ve digressed again.

As you are grieving, adjusting, learning, be on the look out for the subtle ways you are allowing yourself to be manipulated (by the kids, not the ex…although look out for the ex too).  It’s normal to want to over compensate for Dad being gone.  It’s normal to want to be the fun parent.  It’s normal to want to feel loved after such a big blow as losing your marriage.  But you won’t do your kids any favors by giving in.  If they are going to survive as adults, they need to learn to survive on their own strengths.    Besides exhausting yourself, they won’t grow their own wings if you are running around doing damage control for everything that goes wrong in their world.  Just sayin’

Regardless, at least know that these little motivators can work both ways.  Seriously, I haven’t swiffered the floor in months!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013...but not all of it, just today!

This time of year cracks me up! Everyone resolves to do things better, to be better people, to stop doing things they deem unsavory.  It's like people look at this fresh, brand new year and think "wow, there's no mistakes in it.  So I'm not going to make any!" and they resolve to do the impossible.  They resolve to maneover through this brand new year with no mistakes and no poor habits.  By February they are bored and impotent and they freak out on chocolate in the shape of hearts and filled with red gooey sugary stuff.  (This is the real reason for Valentine's Day, so candy companies can make up for January losses when everyone resolved to eat better...true story!)

When I used to go to the gym to work out, I never went in January.  It was always insanely busy in January.  I think gyms make all their money in January.  I would spend January pigging out on Papa John's pizza.  I'd go back to the gym in February.  By February everyone pretty much goes back to their Big Macs and their non exercising couch potato surfing days...they start filling the new year with mistakes and unsavory habits and such.  Apparently there is a new term out there to describe potatoes who sit in front of their computers as opposed to in front of their t.v.'s, I don't remember the term though, does anyone remember the term?

I still have the gym membership but I haven't paid the dues in years.  I'm the single parent of two children. I just hang out in my basement with Tony Horton and Debbie Siebers now (not literally but that would be way cool!!!)  I don't go anywhere I used to go.  I used to go to parties and bars on New Year's eve.  Now I hang out with my kids and play X-box. (I totally rocked Dance Party 4 last night...even my minions thought I was cool!!!)  Truthfully, the New Years I've spent with my kids are the best New Years I've ever had in my entire life! There's energy and excitement and a very loud countdown and then we all go to bed.  Besides all of the fun we have watching Minion 2 play Dance Party, they don't bore me with all their resolutions, probably because they are just as happy with their unsavory behaviors and bad habits as I am with mine. Plus now I don't have to poke Hobbs or Evil Twin with a wooden spoon the next day asking what the hell happened last night and where the hell is the kitchen sink?? I have clearly digressed for the first time in 2013!!! *high five*

My original point (I think) was that it is silly to look at an entire year that is fresh and new with no mistakes in it yet and resolve that you aren't going to make any more mistakes and you are going to do everything that entire year.  Make it simple people.  It's much easier to handle anything day by day then to look at an entire year and say "this is going to be my year" because let's face it, there are 365 days in a year for life to kick your ass...and karma to kill your appliances.  I propose you wake up each morning and look at this brand new day that is fresh and new with no mistakes in it.  And resolve to do better just in this one brand new day.  And if you succeed...and you actually liked it... wake up the next day and resolve to do it again.  If you fail, resolve to try again the next brand new, fresh day.

As for me, I don't make resolutions.  There is way too much pressure in a resolution.  Instead I just break up with things.  I broke up with french fries a few weeks ago because my neck is getting too fat (btw, thanks you all for letting me walk around thinking I had a perfectly fine neck when it is, in fact, fat...I digressed again...see, if I had resolved not to digress in 2013 I'd already be screwed and it's not even noon on 1/1)  I broke up with Champagne last night because I only had half a glass and it gave me the most wicked heart burn I've had since the last time I ate at Taco Bell (and is the exact reason why I broke up with Taco Bell).  And no, I don't single out this one day of the year to break up with things, much like this blog entry I just make it up as I go along.  It's a lot less pressure this way.

In summary, let's just say that "January 1 is my day!!!" And tomorrow, when you wake up say "January 2 is my day!!!" and so on.  And since I have already digressed several times in this entry, I'll just say "The afternoon of January 1 is going to be my afternoon!!!!"  Enjoy!!