"Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." ~Charlotte Mason

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top Ten List, Part 1

David Letterman, from Late Show with David Letterman, CBS photo

I have always enjoyed David Letterman's show. His dry humor reminds me of my brother, and that makes me smile. The best parts of Letterman's show are the top ten list he offers every night, and the occasional Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks segments.

In true Letterman fashion, I recently delivered my own Top Ten List to a group of 800 moms at a mother's retreat in Dallas. Many have asked me to post the list, so here you go!

Top Ten Things I Have Learned to Say as a Momma:
To the Children (#10-6):

10. "Actually, he IS the boss of you."

When my son was young, I was continually fussing at him for "parenting" his sisters.

"Their mother is here," I would tell him. "I don't need you to be in charge. You worry about yourself, and I will worry about them."

Well, this was all well and good until, years later, I wanted my son to babysit his sisters so we could have our coveted Date Nights.

"You're not the boss of me!" became the girls' new mantra. It took quite a bit of work for me to undo the mess I had made. I immediately established a chain of command, and began to stand behind the decisions of the older children.

It would have been much easier if I had known, from the beginning, to grant the older children authority over their younger siblings. This gives them great practice in learning what is a good leader, and creates more order in our home.

9. "I'll give you two guesses!"

I have five daughters, and one son. They are all talkers. I hear an endless barrage of questions, all day long! They all just have so much to say!

A sweet friend once noticed my plight, and taught me the "two guesses" trick that her grandmother used. Here's how it works:

Child: "Momma, why do I need a jacket?"

Momma (old response, includes sarcastic, irritated tone and a fair amount of eye rolling):
"Because it is w-i-n-t-e-r!!!! You already know you need a jacket! Can you really not see the snow outside? It should not be a shock that I ask you to get a jacket! How hard is it? Go get your jacket on. Now!!!"

Result? The child is hurt and resentful, Momma is angry and the argument most likely took more time than we had before we needed to head out the door. But, with the two guesses trick....

Child: "Momma, why do I need a jacket?"

Momma (pleasantly, because it's a game): "I'll give you two guesses."

Child: "Because....it's cold outside?"

Momma: "You got it! See, you didn't even need two guesses! Look how smart you are!"

Result: Everyone moves happily out the door, wearing jackets and smiles. The child learns that he is pretty smart, and Momma thanks the Lord for such an intelligent child.

Alternate Result: Occasionally, Momma discovers that the child really doesn't know the answer to the question. Thus, Momma learns that the child is not trying to irritate her, but honestly seeking to learn something. Imagine that!

Try putting these into action today, and I'll share the rest of the things I have learned to say to my children tomorrow!

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