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May
18

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my proudest parenting moment

shih tzu

This is a Shih Tzu. Can you see where this story’s going?

I’m off to visit my daughter in Portland today, and can’t wrap my head around the fact that she’s done with college and is now out on her own, ready to take on the world.

As I was packing for my trip, I started thinking about her as a little girl and was getting all teary about how fast time has gone, how can she be 22 years old already, blah blah blah.

Then I remembered the scene which turned out to be what I consider my greatest parenting moment. And I stopped crying and actually stood a little taller.

This story is worth sharing 1) as a public service announcement and 2) in case she’s telling a different version to some therapist somewhere.

Sara was probably in first or second grade, and we were standing in the kitchen after dinner. She kept talking about a Shih Tzu, only because she thought it was really cool that she had found a way to say “shit” without actually saying it.

After working “Shih Tzu” into the conversation a couple of dozen times, I couldn’t stand it any more.

Me: It was funny the first few times but that’s enough, okay? Stop.

Sara: Stop what? Stop saying “Shih Tzu?”

Me: Sara …

Sara: What? You want me to stop saying “Shih Tzu?”

Me: Sara, no more.

Sara: No more saying “Shih Tzu?”

Me: I’m not kidding. If you say it one more time, you’re going to bed at 8:30.

At this point, Alex, who’s two years older, started paying close attention.

Sara, laughing: You’re not going to make me go to bed at 8:30.

Alex’s eyes were getting bigger as the tension mounted.

Me: Yes, I am, Sara. Don’t test me.

Don’t test me, I was thinking, because I have failed this test many times before.

Sara: You mean don’t test you by saying “Shih Tzu” again?

Time stopped.

Sara was practically dancing, Alex was eyeing me carefully and I was dripping sweat. I knew that neither of my kids believed I was actually going to make good on my threat. Quite honestly, I didn’t believe I would, either.

I did believe that all my years of parenting were going to come down to this moment. I was either going to teach my children that their actions had consequences and that my threats – and promises – were real, or I was going to chicken out, miss this opportunity and irresponsibly send them into adulthood believing they could get away with anything.

In that split second of self-analysis, I noticed Alex imperceptibly nod his head.

Me, matter-of-factly: That’s it. You’re going to bed at 8:30.

Sara, smiling: You don’t mean it. I won’t say it again.

Me, calmly: I do mean it. I gave you a lot of warnings and you chose to ignore them.

Sara, begging: I promise. I won’t say it again.

Me, smiling: Great. Start getting ready for bed. It’s almost 8:30.

Sara, bursting into tears and running out of the room: I can’t believe you’re making me go to bed at 8:30!

I glanced over at Alex, who was grinning from ear to ear. “Good job,” he said. “I didn’t think you’d actually do it.”

Wow. Schooled by a 9-year-old.

We all learned a valuable lesson that night – maybe me, most of all.

The irony of the whole thing is that Sara is now working with dogs. You can bet when I visit her and she starts telling me all about her job, she’ll be sure to go into great detail about one particular breed which she’ll feel compelled to mention over and over again for old times sake.

But that’s okay because, now, I’ll be the one going to bed at 8:30.

Comments

  1. I have SO much trouble following through on my threats, so good for you for doing so. My husband yells at me all the time because I say I am going to do something and then I don’t 🙁

  2. Melinda Burgard says:

    Great story!

  3. Classic Combo of parenting and pet humor! Loved it!

  4. Margie from NY says:

    Will your daughter be reading this post? I’d love to hear her reaction – she’s probably laughing out loud seeing how you remember the incident. Enjoy your visit.

  5. Love it Lois! This happens with my son all the time – at 15 he loves testing me…sometimes I pass and sometimes I fail. I actually like to keep him on his toes so even when I fail I win because it catches him off guard the next time when I actually stick to my guns,

  6. Oh this is so great. And don’t we all have these moments? Oh wait, I still DO have these moments. Have a great trip! xo

  7. If I say Shih Tzu can I go to bed at 8:30? Please.

  8. Such a sweet story. I love it. We both learned so much from our wise children. Give Sara a hug from me and bless her on rolling into the next phase of her life. Well done Sara! Well done Mama and Pops too!

  9. Great story! Glad you carried it off. I’ve got a kid in Portland too! Have a great visit with your grownup girl!

  10. Totally hilarious. Of course, you had me (and Riley) at the photo. I mean, who wouldn’t read after that?

  11. Only you can write a post about one small incident to illustrate what an incredible parent you are/were. If you’re smiling now it’s because I am right; just take a look at where your kids are (and who they are) and that, my dear, is everything.

    Great lesson. By the way, watch out for Sara coming home with a Shih Tzu!

  12. Ok, that is too funny. I had a Shih Tzu growing up and also some speech development issues so need I say more when it came to saying it LOL.

  13. Ugh. This is a daily struggle for me. We have hard times following through with our threats – but it is a must.

  14. I love this. Good for you!!!

    There are so many moments as parents that our children test us, and yet, we really are testing ourselves. This is so perfect and fun, too. 😉

  15. Amanda Love says:

    We actually have a Shih-Tzu but no one says it since everyone calls him by his name Gizmo. I have a hard time following through with threats myself at time. Kudos to you!

  16. My daughter, 25, is a delight, but boy she tested me constantly along the way! My most used phrase as she was growing up, “This is not negotiable!”

  17. I completely lack follow through on my threats too. I am really working on that, first by making threats that are easier to follow through on! Like, instead of saying “you’ll be grounded from the XBOX for a month,” which I KNOW isn’t going to happen,I told my son the other day that if he doesn’t get at least a 79 on a test, he and I are going to spend two hours doing nothing but learning about volcanoes and earthquakes (the test subject). Thankfully, I actually LIKE learning about those things, although I’m hoping he does good on the test!

  18. Ha! You showed her! I love that she still tosses the word out there now though. Kids…. Have a great visit!

  19. HA! This reminds me so much of a conversation with my son who was about the same age at the time, except he was saying cockroach.

  20. Too, too funny! Those darn kids test the out of us, don’t they. Kudos to you for following through!

  21. I hope she can get a Shih Tzu of her own one day! I hate when I catch myself in empty threats! Parenting is SO hard!

  22. I have those testing moments often in my house (with 3 little girls). They are always so surprised when I actually do follow through with my warnings! lol…I love that the Shih Tzu moment not only stuck with you, but with your daughter too. 🙂

  23. Oh, this is so good! I agree with you, it’s important to follow through, and not just on “threats” but on promises about good things, too. Trust can’t be replaced after these situations get brushed aside over and over again!

  24. ha ha I remember those days.. I learned very early on with my children and watching many other parents.. that when I do the 1… 2…. when I get to three I acted. My kids still to this day (14 and 18), as soon as they hear me say 2.. stop whatever they are doing. 😉

  25. HAHA! Great story! You should be the one to bring up the Shih Tzu over and over…see if she gets it and remembers. 🙂

  26. Wow!!!!gotta love that 9 year old!!!
    What an adorable story I enjoyed it

  27. My 3 have done a good bit of testing me, I have succeeded at some and failed miserably at other times. It is all in the learning!

  28. LOL Good for you. I learned a long time ago that the boys can smell fear on me. Now, when I say something, they know I mean it.

  29. But Shih Tzu is such a fun word to say! I fear the days my girls say.. ‘you won’t make me’… right now they just beg for me not to follow through with my threats.. It’s annoying but one day they will have kids of their own..

  30. Such a funny story that left a big smile on my face. I can remember so many times testing my mom, why, I don’t really know and I wish I did because it would help me understand why my son tests me so much!

  31. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Haha! I LOVE this story! I was also guilty of threatening too many times and not carrying through. Proud of you, roomie!

  32. Best.
    Story.
    Ever.
    I am pretty sure my mom could dig up a similar story to this. LOL
    So far kiddo is a pretty good kid despite we are having troubles with her lying and story telling. I am sure we’ll have a few of these as time goes on.

  33. What a cute post! I am always threatening my kids too with bedtime!

  34. I learned from my parents how to follow through though at ties it killed me to do so I have on more then one occasion taken away a toy or fun time in place of teaching a lesson. Good for you mom.

  35. This is such an adorable story and made me smile thinking of my own girls at that age. It took me a long time to be good with the follow through too.
    Grandchildren are so much less stress!
    Our youngest is in Arizona for school, he is our first to go so far away. We are a mess.
    Have a wonderful visit with your daughter.

  36. Don’t you just love those pivotal moments that we, I mean our kids, learn and grow as a result of one moment of resolve? In your honor, I am giving Bubs a new name :)!

  37. My kids had a phase where they thought Shi Tzu was the funniest dog name ever. I could have seen this happening around my house.

  38. Love this story! I have a second grader right now who loves dogs!

  39. Haha – good for you. Score one for mom! We do often fail with follow through too.

  40. Children always like putting their parents to the test, my daughter has a done it a bit at times.

  41. This is so funny because I started reading this post, my 22 year old daughter Sarah stopped over for a visit and I called her to the computer to read your post because we have been there a few times! Now she’s sitting on the couch saying it over and over and over and begging me to send her to bed at 8:30. I’m laughing harder because I am secretly thinking your (she) pregnant with twins and I wonder how many times she will hear Shih Tzu

  42. That was FUNNY! Good for you for sticking to your guns!

  43. Such a cute story! I have a hard time following through but I’m getting better! We must stick to what we say!

  44. What an awesome post. I say shih tzu often as well but that is because I have a fur baby who is a shih tzu

  45. Great story, Lois! I think so many of us parents can relate to this type of situation.

  46. Great story. Way to stick to your guns there mama!

  47. I have a great shih tzu story too…..and I still have the before mentioned shih tzu
    If it helps they still love us no matter how old they get and still need us…
    it’s not the same, but its ok

  48. Way to go! It is so important to follow through with consequences. Plus, you know you did right when the sibling agrees! haha

  49. Nice! The moment she realized you were serious, that attitude did a 180.

  50. I loved reading this! Great story. I laughed really hard at one point – my nine year old has said the same thing to me, “Wow, mom. I didn’t think you were actually going to go through with it.” Yep, schooled by a nine year old – must be a thing!

  51. When the kids are cute like that I have the HARDEST time following through with my threats. And then when I do I end up caving in down the road because they were just “oh so dang cute”.

  52. Good job momma! Oh how the tables have turned, huh? Funny how things work out like it does 😛

  53. Awww.. what a sweet story. thanks for sharing this one.

  54. I had problems following through on my threats to the children so i stopped making them. Now I just act. It is harder, but better I hope.

  55. Haha good job! We have a rule in our house that we don’t make idle threats. Sadly I don’t do so well with the young ones, but the oldest kid (who knows better) definitely tests us and learns the consequences.

  56. It’s so tough to follow through sometimes, but I bet your daughter turned out to be an amazing young woman because you did!

  57. Awesome story! Thanks for the laugh!

  58. This is a great post. I can remember my kids at that age were always testing the limits. I also was a softy and would never follow threw.

  59. Awww, what a sweet photo! Thanks for the laugh with this story.

  60. I followed through today and my daughter had to stay inside instead of playing because she kicked her brother. #parenting #followthrough!

  61. What a great story! My kids knew they couldn’t get away with much with me but their dad is a sucker for their cuteness.

  62. LOL! That is an awesome story! We all have those make it or break it moments.

  63. Thank you for sharing that story with us. I’ve had a testy day with my four little ones and this story reminded me to breathe, they’re only little for such a short time and I needed to remember that. Thank you.

  64. I love this precious story! In our house, we did the 1,2,3 count. I said, I’m counting… one, two…. and in a few seconds i’m going to say ‘three.’ ” It usually worked, because of some mysterious reason in the cosmos which I have never been able to figure out, , before I had to say 3!

  65. I don’t think I ever followed through. And when I did I would get worried and go check on my daughter. But she turned out okay.

  66. Fun words with a naughty nod for kids crack me up. Our neighbors were going to AmsterDAM and AmsterDAM must be the coolest place in the world.

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