First, I would like to thank everybody for hanging with me through my mourning. It’s been a rough ride, but through it all..I have to say that I’ve learned a lot about myself…and my family. Plus, I have learned to use my writing thing as my sanctuary and decided to stop running from my gift and embrace it. .All that being said, I think it’s time to get back to some lighter fare here. We all have to get back on the horse from time to time, now, it’s my turn.
(I’ll give ya all my post about my second daughter helping me thru this rough time tomorrow…)
So, I think it’s been well established, that I, by no means, think that I am a perfect Dad. I already know that, and as often as I’ve said it, I bet that you know it by now too. However, for some reason, every now and then, my daughters have an overpowering urge to remind me of it and they allow their mouths to run accordingly. Sometimes they do it gently. Other times they are about as gentle as a bull in a china shop. I can’t really blame them though, because either way it goes, they always do it with a bit of the same smart aleck attitude that Daddy displays from time to time. No matter how it’s delivered, though, sometimes a lil fatherhood ego check is a good thing. So, I’m cool with them and I have learned TRY to pay attention to them when they come.
Now, here’e something that will help keep this whole post in perspective.
Kiara = Patience….always has and probably always will.
I don’t mean that SHE has much patience but rather the act of just DEALING with her over the past few years took truckloads of it. If I believed in karma and such, I would swear, that I must have been the world’s most mischievous, borderline EVIL creature ever to breathe air to have earned some of the stuff that “chica loca” put me through. I bet, if I could have seen God ‘s face when he entwined my life’s path with Kiara’s….I would have seen a smirk..or at least a grin.
Don’t believe me? Okay, let’s see. Let’s run through a laundry list of some of Kee’s top masterpieces over the years:
1) Hit a teacher with a rock in elementary school.
2) Put Jell-o in some kid’s shoe during dance class at her after school program.
3) When asked by her Uncle why she gets in trouble all the time, she responded “ ’cause I be lying all the time.” (You hear that sound? That was the sound of English teachers across the country gnashing their teeth after reading that.)
4) Kicked a boy in the crotch….bad enough to send him to the hospital and us to juvenile court. (Her excuse? She was aiming for someone else. Yeah, that was her excuse. NO SERIOUSLY, that was her excuse. This brings up an interesting question. HOW in the WORLD can your aim simultaneously be bad enough to MISS the person that you were actually aiming for AND be accurate enough to hit such a small target on the next guy?
5) When instructed by a teacher to move to the front of the class because she wouldn’t stop talking, said: “”You can’t make me move to the front…I ain’t Rosa Parks!”. (This is my personal favorite. Even though she messed up the historical FACTS, it was still kind of funny)
6) The breaker box was in her room. Once, when me and Sharon were at work, and my nephew who was acting as babysitter, put her on punishment, she flipped the circuit breakers to all the other rooms in the house REPEATEDLY throughout the day and acted like she didn’t know what was happening. I only got the truth out of her when I explained that since we lived in an apartment, if our lights flashed like that….EVERYBODY’S lights would be flashing and that I would do an impromptu visit to all of our neighbors just to see how they had been coping with the “blackouts”…She fessed up.
7) Convinced the teacher in charge of In School Suspension that she was indeed NOT Kiara McDuffie, thereby earning herself an hour or so more of freedom before her con was blown, and an extra day of “incarceration” was added to the end of her bid in the “pen”.
So, when I say that that things were bad I mean that they were so bad that that chick had us SCARED to check the caller ID. Sure, I bet that that doesn’t make much sense to you does it? It makes more sense when you weigh in the fact that as long as we didn’t KNOW that the school was calling, that in our minds, we weren’t being bad parents. We just didn’t know WHO was calling. THIS way, we had a certain level of plausible deniability, and after about a hundred calls a year from the schools, we were BOTH cool with that. So, believe me when I tell you that we avoided that thing as if there might have been bill collectors on the other end, liquid botulism mixed with rickets dripping from the mouthpiece , and some kind of Alien, communist, terrorist, psycho killer on the rampage electronic subliminal message that would travel through the lines and fry our brains if we picked up playing in the background. Yeah, it was like THAT.
To put it in perspective, this is how bad it was. If we ever checked it, and the call was from the county school system, our thoughts would never be, “Hmmm….I wonder what good things the teachers have to say about Ms. Kiara today?”, or even more realistically, “ What does the automated, voice recording system have to say about this week’s announcements?” but rather “DANG! What the h.e double hockey sticks has Kiara done this time?!?!”. I spent so much time at her school, that 1: the principal both knew me by name and 2: he half jokingly offered me a job there so I could get paid for my time since I was always there anyway.
There were times when I just didn’t believe that there was anything that anybody short of an exorcist, could do to calm her down. Don’t get me wrong, there were days when she was good, but when she decided she DIDN’T want to be, the proverbial bottom would drop out. You know how some church folk say that if you pray for patience, God will give you some by trying the patience that you already have? I think I must’ve prayed that prayer somewhere along the line, and for two to three years of getting my patience tried, my prayers were for God to allow me to take it back, and to wash my mouth out with a gasoline and bleach mixture for even asking.
After a while though, once I stopped with the pity parties and decided to learn from things, God allowed me to get some pretty good information out of the whole (or)deal. One day I realized that Kiara was a lesson for in being a good Daddy and I will share some of what I learned with you.
1) Taking away stuff that doesn’t matter to them ANYWAY doesn’t help as punsihment– Kee was a difficult case because she was so smart, that putting her in her room and punishing her that way wouldn’t work. She would always find a way to entertain herself. If we took away her t.v. (which I now HIGHLY recommend not having in your kids’ rooms ANYWAY…) she would just make paper doll clothes. Take away her tos and she would just sit there and draw. But take away her DOLLS…..and THAT hit her!
2) Sometimes, it’s best to ignore some of the bad stuff they do. It took me a while to understand that sometimes, kids don’t necessarily differentiate between the attention that they get when they’re in trouble versus the attention that they get for being good. Sometimes, they just see any attention as….well attention.
3) Rewards the good stuff. This one kind of goes hand in hand with number two. I learned that through a combination of ignoring some of the smaller bad stuff, and rewarding as much of the positive stuff as possible, I could SOMETIMES, steer her behavior in a positive direction.
4) Force them to slow down sometimes. Kee’s mind operated at a million miles a minute. While I was talking to her, I could often see just how much (or how little) attention she was paying to my words. A trick that I learned was to make her slow down and concentrate on what I was telling her to do by asking her REPEATEDLY to repeat what I had just said to her. That way, i could make sure that she at least HEARD what I was saying.
5) Explain the consequences of their actions. Again, this is one of those things that kind of ties in with the previous tip. Not only did I force Kiara to slow down to understand what I was telling her to do, but I would also make sure that I stressed to her the consequences of her actions. There were times that I would say stuff like “Kee, if you get in trouble at school today, understand, that that’s like saying that WHATEVER I choose to do to punish you, you’re ok with it…So think about if it’s worth losing your dolls for a month, or no t.v., or no dessert for a month before you do it. Now, what did I you just hear me say?”
6) Understand, that sometimes, in order to punish your kid, you have to be ready to get punished yourself! THIS one was a DOOZY for me…What the heck do you MEEEAAANNNN that if I tell her she can’t have any t.v. on the weekends that that means I can’t have any either?!?!?!? Well, in order to enforce the punishment, sometimes, I would have to do things to make sure she couldn’t circumvent the system. I couldn’t have her sneaking down the hallway and watching t.v. from behind my chair simply because I couldn’t stand not catching the evening episode of Sportscenter. Besides, someone had to make sure that her time wasn’t just wasted and that meant that I had to play warden and pop in on her often.