The Hard Way

I was going to title this post “Living With Discipline,” but then I thought that might be misleading. When I think about that phrase, I think about somebody who gets up at 4:45 every morning to get a workout in before the kids wake up, someone who only allows themselves two alcoholic beverages and one dessert per week, someone who controls the number of minutes that they spend perusing Facebook and Instagram each day. That person, clearly, is not me.

No, what I mean is living with the butt-naked, possibly possessed, supposed-to-be-napping child who, until about 40 minutes ago was shrieking at me from the top of the stairs to read her a book. (Now she is peacefully sleeping on her bedroom floor…not that I have DARED to get close enough to confirm that.) That, my friends, is the kind of discipline I am referring to.

You think I’m leaving without this
princess chair? Try me.

Let me back up: Maggie, while at her sweetest is the most darling child ever on the face of the planet, at her worst honestly reminds me of the kid from The Exorcist. She has been this way from the very beginning- difficult to please, impossible to reason with, and as they say down here in the south, as hard-headed as they come. I truly believe that I have been dealt this lot in life because I was such a butt to my own mom when I was growing up, but that’s a tale for another day. Of course, today when nap time rolled around my husband was out of the house (coincidence?), but the routine was the same as always. Pull-up on, read two books, sing two songs, music on. I set her “Owl”, her alarm clock, for the time when she’s allowed to wake up, and as long as she’s quiet, we’re good.

Unfortunately, our routine hit a snag when Maggie decided she wanted four books instead of two.

Me (Very calmly): We read two books. Which two do you want me to read?

Maggie: I don’t like you.

Me (the human embodiment of a cucumber): That’s fine. Now which two would you like me to read?

Maggie (Not at all calmly): NO! WE READ FOUR!

Me (Again, very reasonable): Maggie, if you scream at me again, I’m not reading you any books. Do you understand? You don’t speak to your mommy that way.


So, just like Super Nanny taught me, I made good on my warning. No books. That part was easy. What wasn’t easy was the crying, begging, ripping off clothes, and eventually taking away two of her favorite books that followed.

Discipline sucks. I wish I could be more eloquent about it, but seriously, it’s the worst. This witch lady who takes children’s books away from them and once barred my daughter from Sunday school because that was the one thing she was excited about- that isn’t me. Never in a million years did I imagine me, as a parent, asking my child, “Are we going to do this the easy way or the hard way?” and then dumping cups of water over her head while she screams like I’m pulling off her toenails instead of rinsing the shampoo out of her hair.

When it comes to parenting, there is an easy way and a hard way, and choosing to discipline your child is by far the harder choice. It’s necessary, I know, because I’ve taught kids who have seemingly never heard the word “No” in their lives, but (expletive of your choice) it’s exhausting.  Discipline is beyond poop, beyond throw-up, beyond middle of the night feedings, beyond being forced to watch weird, borderline-creepy kids’ shows, the least fun aspect of parenting. Because, as Maggie tells me, “You a bad guy, mommy.”And who wants to hear their kid tell them that?

I pray about discipline. No kidding, I do. A lot. It takes a superhuman amount of strength to instill in your child positive habits and morals without wanting to pull a Homer Simpson on them. And I continue to do what all of us in this boat do, which is to take it one day at a time and fight each battle knowing that, at least for now, I’m bigger than she is. 

2 thoughts on “The Hard Way

  1. Louise White says:

    Excellent…you've nailed it. I was told we don't have children to raise our self esteem but to challenge it. Being the “bad guy” is not fun; there is no instant gratification in disciplining. Years down the road, when the child matures, he/she then realizes what had to be done and why. I also taught kids who were rarely told “no”…they want the boundaries, no matter how they squawk. It means you care.


  2. tucano says:

    What is interesting is the chemistry ( as how it reacts ,stirs, separate on not, and all other possibilities) of “THAT” ugly experience and Love. Never understood it how loves stays intact


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