I know there are more times than not when I probably come across as the type of mother who just hates little crumb snatchers in general, barely tolerates her own, and does not do a very good job at embracing this thing called motherhood. Hence their nickname, the Demon Squad. You might be surprised to know, however, that I actually do love the little crumb snatchers to death. They are my legacy and, as such, it is my job to do whatever necessary to raise them into law-abiding citizens and to teach them to be compassionate, caring, loving and tolerant men.
So, when the fighting, arguing, name-calling, bickering, slapping, pushing, shoving, hateful little monsters rear their ugly heads within my beloved Demon Squad – I get seriously depressed and pissed the hell off.
“What is it that I am doing wrong?” I constantly ask myself. Am I too easy on them? Am I too hard on them? Do I expect too much of them? Am I being unreasonable in my expectations of them?
Why was it so much easier to raise a daughter than it is to raise two sons?
I think back to when I was a child growing up…the rules and responsibilities that I had at their age to follow. These kids of mine have the world by the ass compared to when I was growing up!!!
At the age of 11 years old, I had to help attach this electronic milking device to my Grandad’s cows each evening after school. When that was finished, I had to help shovel manure from their stalls – and we had eight rows of 15 cows each to shovel up behind. Do you know how much poop one single cow can produce? I would have to shovel it out of the stalls and into a wheelbarrow, and when the wheelbarrow was full, I had to take it outside and run it up a ramp to dump it into the manure spreader that was outside in the courtyard. God forbid if you lost your balance and dropped the wheelbarrow in the manure spreader because you damn sure would be jumping in to pull it out – nobody else was going to get it back out for you!
When that was finished, it was into the silo (that large column next to the barn). In the winter time you would need to climb to the very top and use a pitchfork to shovel down the silage. For those who did not grow up on a farm – silage (ours anyway) was made from corn. A machine was used to harvest it and then fed into another machine that chopped the stalks and the corn cobs up and shot it up a tube into the tower silo. It then started the fermentation process. When the silo was filled, that fermentation STANK and it was horrible to breathe in there. The process causes “silo gas” which forms nitrogen dioxide which is toxic. Lack of oxygen inside the silo can cause asphyxiation. Molds grow and cause toxic organic dust syndrome. But guess who was up there, every single night, shoveling it down the entranceway into the waiting cart below? I filled that cart four times every night – it was roughly the size of a 50 gallon drum.
Once I got back down out of the silo and got some fresh air and could breathe again, it was time to go home. I walked through the field between my grandparent’s farm and our home and took a shower. When that was done, it was time to finish up the homework I didn’t get completed before the cows were called in and time to do any studying that needed to be done. After dinner, I washed and dried the dishes. We eventually got a dishwasher, but I still was not allowed to use it. I had to learn how to wash dishes “properly” and not run up dad’s water bill.
During spring, summer, and fall – my brother and I were in charge of mowing ALL the grass on our property. It took two days to mow it all.
This is a photograph of my childhood home in Pennsylvania. My father and my sister still live there. You can click on the image to view it full size.
Punishments? I would have to pick rocks out of the field between our home and the farm (presumably so the cows would not hurt their feet) or I would have to use a push broom to sweep the entire length of the driveway from the mailbox to the patio at my grandparent’s home.
I also had to take the trash out and burn it every evening in the burn barrel (back in the days when I was growing up, you were still allowed to do that). In the summer, the entire family would trek up into the woods and cut up all of the fallen trees from the past winter to use for firewood.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Living on a farm when I was growing up was hot, sweaty, hard work. I dreamt of the day when I would finally turn 18 years old and I could leave that god-forsaken farm and go live in the city and leave that world behind me. I wanted to walk down the sidewalk in my heels and pop in to the local coffee shop for a cappichino, do a little window shopping, work in a high-powered law firm, and forget I was ever that scrawny, gangly girl who had to shovel shit and pick rocks.
But the day came (and earlier than I thought) when I was in my late 20s and it hit me – I would give anything to be back home on the farm raising my children.
There is something to be said for the simplicity of farm life. There is a daily routine, one that cannot be ignored no matter how horrible you feel or how ill you might be – because those animals depend upon you. I think way too many children growing up in this day and age miss out on the value of hard work, the ethics and responsibilities that it teaches you.
My children have not been taught the responsibilities and the values that I received growing up. Because I forgot them along the way. I got wrapped up in the new age parenting CRAP that says you should talk to your children and not scold them, that you should never spank them or raise your voice to them.
Bullshit. I was raised by a father whose voice would boom for miles if you had done something wrong. I will never forget the one day that I had the audacity to back talk him – I found myself picked up in the air and held against a cinderblock wall in our basement with one hand while this man turned all shades of red and told me if I ever even thought about sassing him again I would become a permanent part of said wall.
I never sassed my father again. (I may have thought some hateful things – but never once did I verbalize them again!)
I love them dearly – I truly do – but they have been pushing buttons, manipulating their father and I, and getting away with way too much. The coddling stops NOW.
Yesterday I was pushed to the limit. Jonathan came in from school and wanted to go to the pool. Fine, I had no problem with that, but it did not open till 4pm so they had to wait. I told him to get his room cleaned up. He went outside to play. Tre came in to put his swim trunks on and discovered that his brother had squirted almost an entire tube of toothpaste all over his trunks. He was LIVID and starting a screaming temper tantrum. Jonathan in turn started screaming back stating he didn’t do it. He was the only one who had been in the bathroom since they got home from school. When I went in to check the bathroom, I discovered that there was toothpaste all over the counter, all over the commode, and all over the wall. He still tried to lie his way out of it when I confronted him and I was called every name in the book, told that I was hated, that I was the worst mother ever because I always took Tre’s side, de-friended from Facebook and more.
That was it. I was done. When he came to me about an hour later, I sat him down for a talk. I informed him that he was going into middle school, that he was going to be 12 years old this year, and as such, he needed to start being more responsible and accountable for his actions. I informed him that the only thing that his father and I were required to do as his parents were to keep a roof over his head, provide food that would nourish his growing body (not junk food that he wants), and provide clothing to cover his body. Everything else was a luxury. The trips to their favorite store, GameStop – no more. Trips to the pool – no more. Change for the ice cream truck – no more. Treats from the convenience store – no more. Kool-Aid or Pepsi after school – no more. Outings to see a movie or go to a concert or go to a zoo – no more. Friends spending the night or coming over to play – no more.
I don’t ask him to take out the trash (simply because the bag is usually too heavy and its difficult for me sometimes to get it up in the dumpster). I don’t ask him to empty the dishwasher (because I like to check and make sure the dishes actually came clean before putting them away). The one and only responsibility that each of them have (besides completing their school work as assigned) is THEIR ROOM. They are responsible for keeping it neat, keeping their toys and clothes put away, and keeping it dusted and their beds made. Mollyanna is “supposed” to be ‘their’ dog – yet they do not walk her at all, they do not bathe her at all, they do not feed her, and they do not brush her. I do everything for her.
So they have been told. I sat Tre down a little later when he came in and explained the same to him. He is 8 years old. There is absolutely nothing preventing him from cleaning his own room. At Jonathan’s age I was doing my own laundry.
If the time comes when I once again need to go into their rooms with the black trash bag and start throwing things out – it will ALL be gone. Toys, clothing, shoes, games – I don’t care what it is – it will ALL get TOSSED OUT. They have been given too much – too freely – by both their father and I. It’s time that they learned responsibilities and what it means to work for what you want in life – and not have everything handed to you because you beg and plead or throw a temper tantrum.
I thank you, Mom and Dad, for raising me the right way…and I apologize for dropping the ball in raising your grandsons the right way. I love you both for teaching me what I needed to know to survive as a grown-up in this world.
I’ve got the ball firmly in my grasp now, and I don’t plan on letting go of it again anytime soon.
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