Sunday, January 27, 2013

Natural Consequences

Oh, hey, remember Halloween?

Guess I forgot to post any pictures of the big day since Clementine's birth overshadowed the whole Halloween holiday this year. But Darth Vader and Yoda deserve some time in the spotlight, too. Okay, great. Moving on.

The other day I was at the park halfway monitoring some Star Wars tag playing/torture from afar when a pack of playgroup looking parents wandered my way. I overheard one dad explaining his parenting philosophy while his two-year-old toddled along beside him. "We practice natural consequence parenting," he began. "If you leave your toys on the floor they get broken. If you don't eat your dinner you get hungry. It's simple, really." The rest of the group nodded in approval and chimed in with their own pearls of wisdom which I promptly tuned out.

Hmmm. I sat there thinking about this. I guess I am only a fan of natural consequence parenting when it doesn't a) inconvenience me or b) reflect poorly on me, which is pretty much never. When my kids leave their toys on the floor they don't get broken, oh no, I step on them and hurt my foot AND FURTHERMORE I have to look at the mess and/or worry that someone will stop by and SEE the mess. Gah. When my kids don't eat their dinner they whine for hours until they are put to bed and then wake up at the crack of dawn wailing for cereal. Not only is this inconvenient, I worry that the neighbors might think we don't feed our children. (And we really don't need them giving us any more Asian pears.)

Nevertheless, I do sometimes fall victim to the natural consequence parenting when I am having one of those pick-your-battles kind of days. And that's pretty much every day with Sawyer when it comes to getting dressed. Nevermind that he's been getting dressed EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS ENTIRE LIFE, and nevermind that we always win in the end. He would rather pitch a thirty minute fit (and risk a garage time out) than spend two minutes getting his clothes on. Clearly he is also picking his battles. So you can see why we rarely question his wardrobe choices because really, if that kid is at least wearing pants, I feel like I've done my job.

Except he doesn't wear pants. He wears shorts year round. On a particularly cold day last week, I had to walk the dog because Brent injured his foot playing soccer. I was also not exactly in my prime because of a horrible medical procedure of which I will spare you the details, but if you've been reading for awhile you know that I have endured a variety of indignities when it comes to my feet. So we were both gimping around and I was the martyr who sucked it up and dragged kids and dog out into the cold for the walk.

I bundled up Clementine and found my hat and gloves and, because I am a good mother, I suggested to Sawyer that 29 degrees and foggy was not exactly "shorts weather." I dutifully nagged him about wearing a hat and gloves and finding a real coat, but eventually I gave up and he followed me out the door in a hoodie and a pair of shorts.

We got to the park and unloaded from the car. I sent Lu in first while I wrestled the baby into the pack and coaxed Sawyer out of the car. By the time the kids and I began our walk I had lost sight of the dog in the dense fog. I figured she'd just circle around and meet up with us so we just kept on walking even though it was really, really cold. The wind picked up and Sawyer started complaining about his freezing hands and I was starting to not be able to feel my feet. I whistled for the dog. I yelled for the dog. No dog. Sawyer went from whining to sniveling to crying in record time. And still there was no dog. For the next 45 minutes I wandered through the fog calling for that damn dog. Sawyer was most unhelpful, crying about being cold (no shit) and getting stuck in one of those three-year-old loops. "Call Oakridge." What the hell is he talking about. Oakridge? I wondered. Well, we did get the dog from some people from Oakridge. "Can you please call Oakridge, Mom? Mom, where's Oakridge? Is Oakridge in Oregon? What planet is Oakridge on? Can you just email them, Mom? Mom?"

Naturally my phone was in the car, so when I finally decided it was time to throw in the towel and admit to somebody that I'd lost the dog, we had quite a trek. A long trek in which many, many more questions about Oakridge were asked. I knew Brent wouldn't be able to help with his hurt foot and so I called my dad. He didn't have a car that morning but was all set to get on his bike and ride across town in the freezing fog to help me out. What a guy.

I called Brent to break the bad news. Except that he already knew I'd lost the dog because our vet had called. Some lady had found Lu and brought her there. Our dog was in a cozy, warm kennel waiting for us to come pick her up.

With numb, icy fingers I buckled an even icier Sawyer into his car seat. Clementine was so warm and snuggly in the pack that I almost couldn't bear to take her out and put her into her seat. But I did, because again, good mother! And we drove maybe a half a mile to our vet's office. The parking lot was empty and I contemplated leaving the kids in the car so I could just run in and grab the dog, but good mothers don't do that so I helped Sawyer out and then went around to get Clementine. And that's when I noticed that I hadn't buckled her into the car seat. Sigh. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to win.

It must have been a slow day at the vet. Everybody was just sort of standing around like Lu was the most exciting thing that had happened there in awhile. Several jokes where made about me having my hands full, etc. The receptionist insisted on helping me out to the car, so I gave her Lu's leash and she grabbed Sawyer's hand. "Oh my, you've got cold little hands," she remarked brightly.Then she peered over her glasses at me. "He's not exactly dressed for the weather, now is he?"

Lady, you have no idea.

Natural consequences, my foot. 


  1. What a friggin day! But, funny in retrospect only of course ;)

    All mothers should have a secret free membership to the wine of the month club. We could all really use it.

  2. Cassadie, my advice is to give up on what others think of you--soooo hard to do.
    Nancy (Emily's mom)

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