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Coloroso for Dummies


For real.

But if you’re still interested, read on. If not, a bientot….

Now, where was I? Aaaah yes. The trials and tribulations of parenting. The love. The joy. The pain….in the ass. It ain’t easy so I take any help I can get. And then I discard what I don’t need. Or want. I’ve read loads of books, been to a handful of courses. Some last several weeks, others a few hours. I pick ‘n mix and hope against hope that something someone said somewhere will stick by the time I get home. And that I’ll remember what it was and whether it worked. “Siblings Without Rivalry” is an awesome book. Ditto “How to Tame your Spirited Child”. Alyson.ca is good news. And Sarah Chana Radcliffe’s not bad.

And then there’s Babs. (Can I call her Babs?). Talk about a maven!!! Parent. Teacher. Author. Genocide expert. Ex-nun. Comedian.

OK, she’s not officially a comedian but she’s hilarious so I’m taking liberties. It’s my blog.

Last night was different. Different from the other gurus. Different than all other nights. Free coffee and two-bite brownies aside, it was amazing. It was Barbara Coloroso talking about everything from bullying to Rwanda to sibling rivalry. She was smart. She was funny. She was inspiring. I’m not one to prosthelytize – well, perhaps I am (Magic Bullet…American Idol…Piller’s Turkey Bites… oops did I really admit that? Moving on…) – but she was brilliant. I left her lecture feeling moved, energized, and confident. And tempted to shanghai her back to my house to hang out with me ‘n mine for a week or three.

But since that’s illegal, and undoubtedly expensive, I shall humbly attempt to paraphrase some of her better thoughts. Yes, I took notes. And it’s a good thing too. I’ve been asked to pass them on. Yes, the people have asked. And while there are no perfect answers, there are some damn good tips to help find them…

* Tattling vs. Telling…Tattling gets somebody INTO trouble. Telling gets someone OUT OF trouble. When in doubt, discuss.

*Bribes and Rewards are THE SAME THING. We’ve become a nation of gold-star earners. Doing The Right Thing shouldn’t be something that you get paid for. It’s something you just DO. It feels good because it is good. And that’s reward enough.

*Natural consequences: if it’s not life-threatening, or moral threatening, let it happen.

*Discipline. Don’t punish. Punishment doesn’t work – it sends ’em underground. Discipline is learning.

*Think in terms of US, OURS & ENOUGH….rather than me, mine and more.

*Teach your children HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

* Save the “no” for when you really mean it. Alternatives include “later”, “let me think about it/give me a minute” and (my fave) “convince me”. There is a time for “no” – used sparingly it’ll actually mean something. “No.” It’s a complete sentence.

*Don’t tell your kids what they already know.

*Mistakes happen. Own it, fix it, learn from it. And move on. Give your kids ways to problem solve while leaving their dignity in tact. And it doesn’t have to hurt.

*1,2,3…timeout. Doesn’t work. However, time out to fix a problem does, whether in a rocker, a room, or a lap. The goal is to calm everyone down and to let your child figure out a solution. Or to teach them how to fix what needs fixing.

*Teasing vs. Taunting: Teasing is two-sided, between friends, and gets both people laughing. Taunting is one-sided, laughing AT someone.

*”I’m sorry” doesn’t make something right. Instead, try fixing it and making sure it doesn’t happen again. Heal with the person you’ve hurt.

* Discpline doesn’t work for the under-3 crowd. Instead try one of her 3 D’s: Distract. Disorient. Disengage.

* Mean what you say and say what you mean.

* Conflict is inevitable. Don’t punish. Don’t rescue. Most of the time kids can sort stuff out on their own. And when they can’t, step in as a backbone, not an enforcer. Or enabler.

* Helping out is not a job. Chores are not paid for. Money is for saving, spending, or giving to others. Not for being a responsible citizen of a household.

* You can’t control someone else’s will.

There. I don’t need to write all this out 99 more times to make it stay in my head….Do I?! I was hoping just this once would get it to stick. Maybe it will. And maybe it won’t. But here’s hoping.

Good luck fellow freaks…..


Anonymous said…

wow! You did get a lot out of it…and took GREAT notes! Thanks for the synopsis, friend. Had I not been there myself, I would now feel that I had been there. I got her book from a friend earlier today…can share with you once I am done.

Good bloggin’ sister!


November 11, 2008   1 Comment


Fight Club

Parental playground question : who’s got it worse – mother of the victim or mother of the perp?

Poor victim. No one wants to see their child hurt. You feel awful, wishing you could absorb your child’s pain. So the victim’s mom gets righteous indignation. Not the perp’s mom. Or Dad. Or Nanny. Or whatever Guardian has to cringe as their charge taunts, teases, or beats the crap out of another small fry. After all, there is only so much you can do to, erm, train your child. Despite your best efforts, at some point, your kid’s gonna be the bad guy.

And how will that make you feel?

Complicated answer.

I remember my older babe had these “friends” who liked to push him around after school. By day, they were all pals. In fact one of them constantly referred to my son as his Best Friend. Well! With friends like these…The second those tots were released into their parent’s charges, mayhem set in. Every afternoon, like clockwork, these two little f&ckers would torture my angel. Push him, poke him, yell, scream, hit. You name it. Oddly enough, they were tiny things compared to my strapping lad. Possibly half his size. Did Napoleonic complex set in at 3? Maybe, Cuz they were like ratty little terriers.

I’d watch, loathe to get involved, as my son would tell them it was enough. He didn’t like that (his emphasis). Part of me was proud. My son chose words. Brain over brawn. Another part of me wondered why the parents of these monsters didn’t remove them, rather than issuing half-hearted warnings amid discussions of Christmas presents. And then there was the other part of me. The one I silenced. The one that secretly wished my son would realize his own strength and just wallop his tormentors once and for all.

One afternoon, as the moms stood around pretending to be pals, I noticed the kids playing one the slide. Together. Nicely. What a relief. Maybe I could make friends with these people. Maybe those boys were my son’s best friends. Maybe….Suddenly a man started yelling about the kid in the red jacket. I pretended not to notice. There were lots of kids with red jackets, right? Then the waterworks started. And they weren’t our brand. I turned to see this Dad holding my son by the hood of his coat. The look of defiance on my son’s face was all I needed to know that he’d gone from victim to perp. He looked me in the eye and told me he hit —-. When I asked why, he said he had to. Before I could respond I was being berated on all sides. He didn’t just hit —-, he kicked him in the head.

Suddenly, my child was the devil. The enemy at the schoolyard gates. I tried consoling the hysterical bully-turned-victim. I tried forcing my child to apologize, but no chance, Lance. I grabbed his hand to take him home, my face blazing with anger. But inside, I was jumping for joy. Atta boy, son! You showed those twerps. At last, he stood up for himself. Granted, he took it a little further than the pushes he’d experienced, but still… His “best friends” never bugged him again.

Yeah, I felt bad. Ish. And my son was punished. Sort of. But the fact is, that kid kind of deserved a swift kick to the head. It’s a pity that my son had to be the one to give it to him. And, yes, it did make me feel guilty. Guilty that he got caught…


February 7, 2007   1 Comment


Bullied? Or Bullsh*t?

A while back I was in browsing (yes, out of my house) when someone approached me, ready to rumble. “Hi” she said accusingly. I looked at her. And drew a blank. I thought back, way back… Did I know this person? Should I know this person? Apparently, yes and yes. “We went to summer camp together” she said and after a strange, stunted, go-nowhere convo, she stormed off. I chalked it up to personal issues. And then racked my brain. What was her name? How did I know her? Which camp? Who the hell was she?

I went home and called my friends from the three different summer camps I’d gone to. No one remembered this girl. Oh well, I thought, another sign that the aging process is taking its toll. Hadn’t a clue. Appropriately enough, I soon forgot about the whole incident.

Until several months later when this girl resurfaced. This time, we were at a friend’s party. Spotting her, I immediately remembered her as the mystery girl – from the store. I still had no recollection of her from camp. Trying to be nice, and to pretend I knew who on earth she was, I went over to say hello. We started chatting, the usual stuff: what do you do, where do you live etc. Turns out she has a couple of kids, boys. Boys who, she claimed, “are much easier than girls. And much nicer.” She turned to leave but first, looking me square in the eye, she added, “girls are bitches.” Whoa! I’m a girl. A mother of boys, but still a girl. A girly-girl with a lot of girlfriends. Sure, some girls are bitches. But some boys are too. What was up her ass? Watching her walk away, I marveled at her anger. In front of a practocal stranger. And at that moment I remembered her: as one of the ‘losers’ in my cabin at camp.

Sounds harsh, I know, but that’s exactly what she was. Especially in our year. Not that we were any different, r better, or worse, from other 15 year olds. But, see, that’s just it – we were 15!! Mean girls? We had ‘em. The kind who stole your boyfriends, got thrown out of camp, and then stole your clothes. Yep, they got the boot, packed what they liked and left. We had the athletes, the sunworshippers and the secret smokers. The only-friends-with-counsellors-gals. The gung-ho campers, the performers, the canoe trippers. The girls who went out with the trippers. And everyone in between.

And then there were the few who hated everything and everybody. They made no effort to “fit in” – a must in any teenage social situation. Nor did they try to just get along. They were the ones who sat around being miserable, complaining. They were dripping in attittude. Not tough ‘tude, or too-cool-for-school-tude. Just “poor me” ‘tude. Poor me, no one likes me. Poor me, I never get to sit at overflow. Poor me, my clothes aren’t as hip as everybody else’s. Poor me, I’m not pretty. Poor me, I’ll never get a boyfriend. Poor me – I’m the same as everybody else with the same insecurities yet have entitlement issues and am bitter!!!! Yeah, that girl was one of them.

Oddly enough, that girl bumped into one of my best friends the very next day, telling her about this girl she bumped into, a nasty bitch who pretended not to know her. When she mentioned my name, it was all my friend could do to keep her mouth shut. In fact, she couldn’t. “That’s one of my best friends” she stated, proud. (That’s why we’re such tight pals).

At first I was outraged. My name was being dragged through the mud! Especially since with the recollection of who this girl was came the recollection that she wasn’t even in my cabin. And that I left halfway through the summer. And that there was someone else who was rather nasty with the same first name as me. Oh yeah, I remember her now. But then my ire faded. How sad it all was. Bullied? Hardly. Just bitter. She was barely a blip on my childhood radar. And come to think of it, I know exactly why.


Anonymous said…

Strange… at my camp, the losers always got sent to overflow. They just didn’t want to get suckered into clearing the table because they were too cool to “freeze”.

9:17 AM

Anonymous said…

Strange. The losers at my camp alway sat at overflow. I know, becuase I was the staff member assigned to monitor the overflow table. I think they thought they were too cool, or too uncool, to “freeze”. Who wants to clear the table everyday?


May 20, 2006   No Comments