parenting decisions that would horrify my former self: part one

I’m titling this part one because while currently I’ll only be addressing one horrifying decision I’m quite sure more will surface along the way. Stay tuned.

Many of you know that I taught kindergarten for four years before becoming “just a mommy” (in the words of my dear sweet Gabe). I loved teaching and, forgive me for tooting my own horn just a bit, was pretty good at it. (toot!toot!) In particular I loved teaching five year olds to read. Scratch that. I loved teaching five year olds to love to read. Nothing lit up my world like seeing the joy and pride in the face of a little one with a library book under her arm that she could finally read for herself.

Before I confess my horrifying parenting decision here’s something else you should know about my book-loving self. In June of this year I had a children’s book collection that topped the 1,000 mark. And they were all numbered and entered into a searchable database on my computer (just a little something I like to call the DeeDee Decimal System). Sadly, our new house wouldn’t accomodate all of my books so I had to downsize to about 750. We’re certainly not lacking in books.

One of my greatest hopes for my babies has been that they would love books as much as I do. So far Sarah has not disappointed. She passed the obsession mark long ago and drives us bonkers all day, everyday with some variation of the same demand: read books! I have no doubt that she would gladly trade in all of her toys if it meant she could keep just a handful of her favorite stories.

So yesterday as I was nursing Ephraim and trying unsuccessfully to discipline Sarah’s so-typically-two-year old self (wow is it hard to get her to do what I want when I’m strapped to a chair with another human strapped to me…does anyone else have this problem???) I had a revelation. Prepare yourself because it was not my finest moment. I know, I thought to myself, I’ll take away all her books. All. her. books.

Ay-ay-ay. WHAT?! As I’m gathering up the zillion stories that are scattered around our house I realize what a dumb idea this is. Who punishes their child by taking away something so inherently good for them? I might as well deprive her of dinner. Or give her some broth without any bread. Not to mention how long it takes to take away all her books. Dumb, dumb, dumb. If one of my little kindergartners had waltzed into my classroom and announced that mommy had taken away all of his books I would have been appalled. Maybe even making a mental note to ask about it at the next parent-teacher conference.

So, there you go. My confession. My Part One. More to come I’m sure. Anyone else care to share just to make me feel better???

I’m happy to report though that I’m not above regrouping and changing courses. Sarah now has all her books back and this is the current scene over my shoulder as I’m typing…

Always the voice of reason, Brent steered me in the direction of the American Academy of Pediatrics website for some more reasonable and productive discipline measures. I’ll be sure to try those next time. 🙂

AnonymousDecember 20, 2007 - 7:59 am

oh bless your heart!

the good thing about toddlers is that they don’t remember our blunders – LOL!!

I remember one dinner vividly of doing EVERYTHING I could imagine to get Ty to eat his vegetables. Insanity set in when I caught him sneaking the broccoli into the trash while I was in the bathroom. He had everything take away from him, good, bad, you name it. Later that night I realized “it’s just broccoli”. Makes me smile now though.

As for nursing with a toddler on hand, I had a client a few months ago with 3 little ones and asked her for some advice. She said the biggest challenge was nursing with a toddler and told me to contain Taryn when the time comes via baby gates and have a basket of toys / books that only comes out while Mommy is nursing. That way she won’t have free reign because it won’t take her long to realize Mommy is occupied and has her hands full. I plan to swap out the items in the basket pretty often (think dollar store!).

Hang in there 🙂


ellenDecember 20, 2007 - 8:19 am

That last picture is priceless!

MeganDecember 20, 2007 - 8:33 am

Your first reaction is normal. I would have done thought the same thing (and probably have with Mazie). I threatened to take away tae kwon do already. What was I thinking? Something she loves will be taken away would surely make her listen better and bahave, right? Although you would have to follow through with said punishment and then make yourself feel really badly about the whole thing. You will find that these things happen more when you are tired and not thinking as clearly as you usually do. It will come again with something different. The nursing thing with her will work itself out. Trust me after going through it twice now. I would have Mazie hold the books while I nursed Jamie and I do the same with Jamie now. I think this is normal (at least it was with us) so keep up the good work. You will find something that works soon.

SheenaDecember 20, 2007 - 9:49 am

I don’t have any stories yet, as my little one is only 6 weeks old, but had to comment because, wow oh wow do you have a lot of books!!!! I may be heading toward your record, because I’m in school to become a teacher now, and currently Caleb has 30 books that I’ve purchased/received when I was pregnant. A 6 week old with 30 books!!! Some think that’s crazy…but it’s a good crazy? Right? 🙂 Also I just bought him 3 “Christmas related” books!!! I’m obsessed I tell you! 🙂

Kathy PDecember 20, 2007 - 9:53 am

i think we’ve all been there and done that! luckily, they don’t hold it against us. we’re all human and we all make mistakes…. even moms and dads!

AnonymousDecember 20, 2007 - 9:54 am

I’m glad you linked that website because in about 6 weeks or so, I’ll have to deal with my 2 yr. old and a newborn as well!


MonicaDecember 20, 2007 - 10:35 am

My stepson is quite brilliant & at this point is in the third grade but tests at a high school level just to get you in the frame of mind that I deal with. When it came down to finding a punishment that actually had an effect, we took away all of his toys/games/whatever with the exception of his books. If he wanted something to do, he could read. He had to earn everything else back in intervals based on his behavior. He was in either Kindergarten or First Grade, the first time we did this. Needless to say it worked quite well for us. He has the type of mentality that if you were to pop him on the leg, he would retort, “That was a good one, Daddy.” Nothing fazed him other than taking away things that he enjoyed. Sometimes you have to do that in order for them to realize that bad behavior doesn’t always mean that you can be bad & still do the things you enjoy.

ElizabethDecember 20, 2007 - 11:44 am

Been there, Erin. We actually put Maddie (5.5) to bed without stories a few weeks ago because she was flat-out exhausted and nasty… you’d think we had cut off her arm. But it’s OK. We read extra the next day!

Here is something that might work for you–when Gracie was born Maddie was 2.5 so a little older but not much… anyway, we had a box set of the Scholastic Video DVDs that I had her watch a few stories at a time while I nursed. They are animated versions of the illustrated books (like Chrysanthemum, Pete’s a Pizza, etc.) and Maddie LOVED them. She still does. And they get you through an especially hard nursing time. : )

Aunt LuDecember 20, 2007 - 11:46 am

Why don’t you have Sarah be the teacher. While your feeding Baby E she reads to you and him. That way it’s a speical time for her also.

AmyDecember 20, 2007 - 12:34 pm

I just smiled when I read your post because we did the exact same thing to Luke and Jack when I was nursing Zoe. Took away their BELOVED books and the teacher in me thought WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING!!!! That moment still pops into my mind and I immediatly announce it is story time and we sit and read! I even have to admit at times when all three simply aren’t settling down before bedtime we have taken away story time and the drama that follows is not pretty, but we make up for it in the morning:)

KTluvDecember 20, 2007 - 1:05 pm

I totally relate. I did the same thing with my dd when I was at the end of my rope one day. She lost every single thing from her room except her furniture and her bedspread. She had to gradually earn them back and believe me, it took awhile. lol While I don’t usually go to that extreme now, I think it is safe to say that we have all been there! Good luck!!!!

luvbnmaDecember 20, 2007 - 1:16 pm

Oh Erin, you and I have so much in common. I taught as well– first grade for four years before having our first child. Both of our boys l-o-v-e reading and they would also give up toys before books. I also remember nursing my infant and trying to discipline my 2 year old simultaneously. What a task! I love reading about your adventures and relate completely!

How funny– look at all of the lengthy comments today. (Mine included.) Take care.

Amanda AZ

J.J. KillinsDecember 20, 2007 - 1:35 pm

girl check you out posting regularly! we might get used to it, watch out!!! i’m sure this is just the FIRST of many things you’ll kick yourself for, and if this is truly the first i think you should pat yourself on the back:)

JenniferDecember 20, 2007 - 3:41 pm

Sometimes you can’t hear the voice of reason because the exhausted voice is screaming so loudly. There will be many more moments like this and you may not hear the voice of reason then either. I occasionally threaten my 17-year old with having everything taken away except a bare mattress! We’re always told to take away something that matters the most and that’s what you did. Maybe you can have a special something that you do with her after nursing so she knows that when you’re done, it’ll be her turn.

JoyceDecember 20, 2007 - 6:19 pm

Perhaps you are going through the blues, after giving birth? Sarah is not going to do everything you want her to do. This is only the beginning!!!
She can see that you are busy and that’s a challenge for her.
I’m sure you have a book about being a big sister…if not, that may be something to think about.
Hang in there.
Love you all….

AmyDecember 20, 2007 - 6:25 pm

Oh, Erin. You’re doing a great job! And I love that last picture. . . your girl and her books!

the larsonsDecember 20, 2007 - 7:08 pm

When I was expecting Meg, I laid awake at night wondering what in the world I would do with Stella while I was breastfeeding pretty much all day those early weeks – much where you are now. Some things that have worked for me at least some of the time:

reading to her

computer games (do you have a laptop?)

occasional PBS cartoons

safe couch snacks – the couch is where I nurse – like cheerios, crackers, etc.

She is a year older than Sarah though, so her ability to play independently, or even pretend play with toys, dolls, etc. with me is pretty good.

And you know what, before you know it you’ll be over that nursing-round-the-clock hump and in a more predictable schedule, and it’ll just fall into place. For me, the time I’ve spent nursing both of them has been such an integral and beautiful part of being a mom.

Good luck! Those kids are so lucky to have you.

Christie BrelandDecember 20, 2007 - 7:28 pm

Hi! I found your blog through a friend of a friend and love looking at your pics, but have never commented until now… I absolutely had to comment, because when I was growing up (probablay 8-11 yrs. old), I had the same punishment! I was such a bookworm (would read up to 4 books a day!) that the only thing that my parents could do was ban me from reading! And it was definitely effective–I hated it! I turned out fine and I still love to read!
PS–Thanks for all your wonderful photog tips; they’ve been really helpful!

SadiemottaDecember 20, 2007 - 7:37 pm

Oh yea, I remember one time when mine wouldn’t sleep- and she HAD TO SLEEP (I think my baby was actually napping, so I was thinking “break”) I took every single thing out of her bedroom and put it in the hall. Each time she played with something new, I took it out. Total fire hazard. CRAZY, but felt right at the time, until I realized that I had lost my ming. Maybe my mom told me I had lost my mind…..she’s helpful like that sometimes! 😉 Oh yea, by the way- 13 ys. teaching kinder, now p/t teaching 1st grade. 37 + 5 year olds can’t break me, but mine can on certain days…..that’s the truth of it!

AnonymousDecember 20, 2007 - 8:54 pm

Loved your posting today…so honest, we can all relate. 1000 books all in a database….great for you!!! Nursing is such a hard time with little ones. Something that worked well for me, (I had a 2 yr., 1 yr, and newborn)….craft box. It was a special craft box that I only had out during nursing times. My girls loved it. Another thing that worked were rest rugs–they could bring special books to the rest rug and read, but had to keep on the rug–if they didn’t want to read they could play with puzzles. Good luck figuring out what works best for you. Amy T.

LindseyJDecember 21, 2007 - 7:20 am

Erin, I would love to learn your database. I have a growing collection of about 250 books and I begin teaching 1st grade soon. I have an excel sheet now but it’s not working as well as I want. Any ideas?

erinDecember 21, 2007 - 9:21 am

Lindsey, I did my database in excel too. I went through all my books and put a numbered sticker on the bottom front of the cover, paying no attention to the title or author or anything. That way when you add to your collection you always add to the end, not the middle. Then in excel I numbered the book, typed the title in a different cell, then the authors name in a different cell, then a few keywords in a few other cells. Now when I want to find a book I use the edit – find command and type in either a word or title or author that I’m looking for and the cursor will go to every entry that has what I’m looking for. Email me if you need more details! It’s really worked for me and I hope it works for you too!

AmandaDecember 21, 2007 - 10:29 am

I have no advice but I love the pictures of Pigbear reading. What a doll!!!

MarciDecember 21, 2007 - 12:36 pm

I think all moms at some point have those moments. We only have a 2 year old now, though hoping for another soon, and I go through those struggles more frequently now that we’ve entered the I’m 2 but have the attitude of a 13 year old and the sas and spunk to go with it.

Maybe what others have suggested and get a special toy or activity for while you are nursing.

carolDecember 21, 2007 - 5:19 pm

I can verify your statement about how great you were as a teacher. Now on to my incident about a book – my son (7 years old) recently wanted to buy a book at the book fair at school. The price was $13 – so I told him we could get the book at the library and he could save his money – well he decided that was not the right answer so he took some of his own money along with what I gave him to spend and bought the book. He told me when he got home that he was saving it for his “present”. So he put it in his roomand claimed he was hiding it until the “big day”. I knew at that time that he had bought the book. I let a couple of days go by and then asked to see the book that he bought – I then asked if he bought the book I told him not to and he said yes. My first reaction was to take the book away, but then I thought why take away something that important to him. So instead I made him pay me back the money that I gave him to purchase other books. I don’t know if I made the right choice, but at least I feel I didn’t take away his love to read. I can only hope this is the worst thing he will do.

DeniseDecember 21, 2007 - 7:20 pm

The other day, I was plum fresh out of threats and I told Jon David, “If you do such&such, I’ll do something.” How’s that for a punishment!!

510JenDecember 22, 2007 - 9:13 pm

You are very talented. If you don’t mind me asking I am trying to make a header for my blog. Could you tell me if you did it in photohop how big you made it. Pixels or inches? If you wouldn’t mind emailing me.


The Sarah BearDecember 23, 2007 - 2:52 am

I couldn’t stop chuckling as I read your post!!! I have done the same thing you did. It was like slow motion as the words come out of my mouth! My Sarah likes to read also and one day as she was exercising free will and independence (good things, right?) and she wasn’t behaving well. And, well, I was a little short fused. So I said the same thing. “That’s it Sarah, no reading tonight.” Umm… WHAT?!?! How incredibly unintelligent was I at that moment?! As soon as I said it I wanted to take it back, but knew that I had to stick to my word. As I walked away I just shook my head in disbelief. There are a million things to take away.. and I chose BOOKS?!?! READING?!?!?! Sheesh.

“No more education for you young lady!” Duh! LOL

Leigh LearDecember 23, 2007 - 7:10 am

I just wanted to let you know that sometimes in order to get through to them, you have to do the hardest things. My daughter, is 12 and last year, we had to to the same thing. This is a girl, who we have to tell her to stop reading so she can eat dinner, or go outside and play. I can’t even count the amount of books she has, but they are her most prized possession. Anyway, she crossed a line and was throwing an absolute temper tantrum, and in the midst of it, told us there was nothing she could take away, that she cared about. This was after we already took away tv, computer and phone, so we took every book out of her room. It was tramatic and horrible and painful for all involved, but for the first time ever, i think our discipline actually made and impact on her. While we reserve that punishment for only the worst of crimes, all we have to say is your books are the next to go and she instantly changes her tune. So while it’s hard, sometimes it’s necessary. Keep up the good work!

the larsonsDecember 23, 2007 - 10:04 am

Mailing her books to the poor kids in China would be the humanitarian thing to do. But she will probably write a biography one day that paints you as a villain, and Oprah will choose it as her Book of the Month! –eric

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