Thursday, May 24, 2012


     As Wyatt has become more and more mobile, he's able to get himself into places we'd rather he not be. Into bathroom corners and the dishwasher and dirty laundry and near cans of uncapped spray paint are some classic examples, that I think all families deal with. His favorite naughty place is the outlet.

The object of Wyatt's affection

     The kid loves cords. He likes to wrap them around his body and neck and roll around and try to swallow the computer mouse. I encourage this behavior, because I think kids need to be free to explore and experience life without boundaries. I'm not some militant army dad!! My kid is going to like having me around to play with!!

     But then mom comes home. Can't you just hear her disapproval?! "Wyatt shouldn't be eating raw cookie dough!" she might shriek in her condescending tone, always judging me against Travis who her mom approved of. "Wyatt needs to know what the word "no" means!" Ok, lady, I get it.

     Cara seems to think that discipline should be consistent. Every time Wyatt goes near the outlet or starts to grab at it, we should say "no touch" (we don't just say "no," so that he knows specifically what we don't like, or something). After a couple "no touches," we give his hand a little spank and put him in his crib or something. I wasn't really listening because, as you just experienced, ohmygoshisitboring.

     Here's the thing about consistency: it establishes a system that can be manipulated. If Wyatt knows that every time he does something, there will be a specific and consistent response, he can learn how to twist those rules against us. Batman does that sort of thing all the time.

     Now, I didn't become a parent yesterday. I've been around the block more than once, just this morning. My better discipline philosophy can be summed up in one word: emotion based. I plan to discipline Wyatt based on how I am feeling at that given moment. So if Wyatt puts his face in the outlet, but I am watching 30 Rock, I don't care, no biggie. But if Wyatt looks at the outlets right after I stub my toe?! Spanking and no toys for an hour. If I am tired and he accidentally scratches me? Well, first of all, how do I really know it was an "accident"!? Exactly, I can't. He scratches me, fine, I'll scratch myself too. How does it feel to know that you caused me pain, and then caused me to cause myself pain?! I bet it feels pretty bad.

Oh, did you really want to watch The Dark Knight?! Is that why you grabbed that movie?! Well now we are going to watch Cinderalla, because we both hate it. Also, I'll post a blurry picture as punishment and not as an accident.

     I think the punishments, above all else, have to be random. Anything predictable can be predicted, and that's weakness. It's the same reason military personnel don't eat lunch at the same time every day. Keep the enemy guessing. Wyatt, are you not sharing with your cousin? I'm cutting down that tree! Did you lie to me about taking three more bites of vegetables? We are never going on vacay.

     My discipline philosophy is best summarized with the word "passive aggressive." I find confrontation causes pain and fear, and I don't want him to think of me as his prison warden. So, when he talks back to me for the first time, I don't plan to make a big deal about it. I'll just give all of his toys to charity. This accomplishes two things: teaching him a clear, valuable lesson AND educating him on the importance of being charitable.
He was placed in front of the outlet so I could get a good picture of his crime, but then I had to spank him because he was touching the outlet after I specifically said "no touch" a couple days ago. Parenting is hard.

     When your discipline structure is emotion based, random, and passive aggressive, your kid will never really know what is and isn't allowed. This gives you the upper hand. It teaches your kid not to experiment. He'll think to himself "I wonder if I clean my room without asking if I'll get in trouble?" which is exactly where  you want him to be.

     You might be wondering "why not put those child-safety covers on the outlets?" Because we're not wimps. That's why. Plus, I need to use like 5 outlets at a time (laptop, phone charge, Nitnendo DS charge, PS3 controller charge, ipod charge). I might be wondering why don't you mind your own business, but then I would remember that I am writing a blog for the world to see.

My mood: diabolical
Wyatt's mood: unaware
Listening to: U2 Rattle and Hum


  1. This philosophy reminds me of how we (you) used to leave passive aggressive notes for Ryan to find. Yes, I know he started it, but, unlike you, he didn't leave them EVERYWHERE.

    It also reminds me of how we (I) rearranged his food just to stress him out after he left a note about people "eating his food." Whatever that means.

    Good times.

    1. Jeff, I take serious issue with this comment. Dan was the note leaver. I was the only person in that house that would knock on a door and talk to someone, once making Ryan tear up (about to cry?) I thank you for reading and kindly ask you to leave.