Happy New Year! We, at The Urban Daddy sincerely hope that this year is the best year ever and that it is filled with fun, family, health, happiness, wealth, prosperity and PEACE!
While in the process of clearing off an old computer, I came across my family plan for 2017. I’m going to post it below and after reading it, you tell me if you think that the year was a success, OR, if I need to rename it “Happy New Year 2018” and try again.
Did you set family goals for the year? Or does that get done in September before school?
Do you then use January 1st as a re-boot?
Here is what I presented to my 3 children on January 1st, 2017.
Welcome to 2017!
Kids, you have left us no choice but to institute this new policy in our household. Your mother and I are tired of picking up after all of you, and asking you to do the same things over and over again. We don’t like buying you new things because you treat everything you have very poorly. You all have the ability to change this, but you have never had the reason to… Until now!
Each of you have complained that we don’t like doing things that you want to do, and that is also going to change this year because as a family, we will be doing more together inside and outside the house.
You have 2 options. Read them below and let’s see which one we like and want to start following.
Starting at 12:01.01 am on January 1st, 2017, your parents will no longer be making your lunches, driving you to programs, buying you toys, or taking you to and from school. We will not be allowing you to watch TV, use electronics or listen to your music devices until these following conditions are all met each and every day.
Make your beds in the morning
Brush your teeth in the morning and at night
Clean up after yourselves after each and every meal – not just putting things on the counter or in the sink, but in the dishwasher, or washed, dried and away.
Not leave any food out
Put away all of your clean clothes
Placed dirty clothes in your hamper the right side out
Only be allowed to eat at the kitchen table
Leave the kitchen table and your eating area spotless once you have finished
Hang your towels on the back of the door in your bathroom once you have used it
Hang your jackets in the closet when you get home, not on the railing, not on the floor in the closet, but hung properly
Complete ALL of your homework assigned to you which is due the next day
Be responsible from taking your lunch box from your school bag, empty it – put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or wash, dry and put them away. Any uneaten food must be put in the appropriate place
Not hit one another
Not yell at one another
Not swear at all. Ever
Be respectful to your parents.
If you fail to do any 3 of these in a week, you will forfeit anything that you consider “fun” and will be given extra school work to compensate for your lack of interest in being a contributing member of this family.
Help out more around the house. It’s your house too, not just ours. Don’t fight as much with each other and respect each other’s belongings. Be kind to others, be kind to yourselves, and make sure if you don’t know / are not sure / confused / uneasy or uncomfortable with anything that is said, done to you, near you or around you, or to others, to ask us or tell us.
Lie to us and it’s over. Tell us the truth and we can deal with consequences.
We want others to see how wonderful each of you are.
Hugs are a must
We’re not perfect either but we are your parents. We have the key / password / ability to allow you to have fun, or be miserable. We think you might want fair and fun over option 1 and feeling like a prisoner.
How many times have you told your kids they cannot exist on carbohydrates alone.
We’ve told all three of our kids that exact message but it seems to be lost on our oldest son, Linus. He went from being an adventurous eater of everything my wife made, to a super=picky eater who got white bumps on his tongue during our cruise last year because he would only eat carbs. Bread, plain white pasta, potatoes, french fries… BORING. Also very unhealthy.
Now he likes his raw vegetable as well, so he did have some cucumber slices and tomatoes, but the acid in the tomatoes were burning his tongue so that ended quickly. He loves broccoli but not in any of the sauces that they came in on the ship, so that was out of the question.
It finally took 4 days of him watching the rest of us eating the odd sweet treat before he caved in and started eating like a human again and he got better quite quickly. I even remember him making googly eyes with the chefs in the buffet area and no matter how long the line was at the pasta bar, if my then 6-year-old son arrived with a plate in hand and caught the eye of one of the chefs, they would immediately throw penne noodles into a pan with butter and serve him a double portion covered in shredded parmesan cheese at the side of their station away from where everyone else could see. He provided a smile and a quiet thank you and they went back to serving the angry masses. He got his pasta and we got him eating protein with it.
So it’s no surprise then, that we make him eat breakfasts which include protein with his carbs. He loves, for example, almond butter on bread, or an egg omelet with his toast. He also loves cereal but we battle about this breakfast choice all the time.
Once he was able to read labels and understand the nutritional information, he began to realize that a bowl of cereal – with milk – had more protein that an egg because anyone can see that a large egg has 6g of protein while a cup of 1% milk has 9g of protein. Therefore, in his logic, he should be eating cereal every morning. He does understand, by the way, that an egg has no sugar and his cereals have around 5g of sugar, so he has always had that argument to get around, but he does need his protein so every now and then we give in.
Well on October 2nd, Linus asked for and received, cereal for breakfast and he proceeded to eat all the cereal out of the bowl, and he left behind the milk. A lot of the milk, to be honest.
So I called him back to the kitchen counter, showed him what he already knew he left, and let him know that I expected him to finish the milk before he left for school, otherwise he was not going to be allowed to have cereal until November 1st.
He complained that his tummy hurt, that he was too full, that he had to go brush his teeth, get his bag ready and get to school.
I felt compelled to remind him again of the consequences of leaving the milk, by phrasing it this way; “Linus, you need to finish the milk from your cereal. By choosing not to, you are choosing not to have cereal again until November 1st.”
He said he would finish it, so I followed him to the front door and left the bowl there.
He asked for it to be poured into a cup so he would drink it and when I went back into the kitchen to get his cup, he used that opportunity to leave the house with his brother and mother for their walk to school.
So when he arrived home after school, I asked him if he was aware what the consequences of his actions this morning were, and he casually advised me that he understood that he would not be allowed cereal for breakfast and that he could handle not having until November 1st.
Ok, I thought. “And you know today is October 2nd, right?” I reminded him.
He showed a little panic, but settled his emotions and proudly proclaimed that he would be up for the task.
And so I reminded him on the 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 28th and 29th when he asked for cereal for breakfast, that he was not allowed. I could tell he was thinking what all of us thought at the time (and his friend told him upon find this out), that he should have just drunk the milk!
So on the morning on November 1st, Linus had cereal for breakfast and he drank all his milk. He did so again on the 2nd and he showed me both times that he finished the milk down to the last drop.
Now it’s my turn to chime in on the topic of bullying.
I too was bullied as a child – I always thought it was my fault. I was an average geeky kid growing up and a far cry from the overweight kid who wore plastic-framed glasses and had yucky unkempt hair underneath my baseball hat that appeared in middle school. That kid was not bullied. In elementary school, however, all I wanted to do was play sports and learn. I never could figure out why my neighbour kept threatening me and pushing me around whenever he needed to show off to his friends.
Throughout all this, my mother was awesome. Whenever I used to come home crying or scared after being assaulted she would race over to that kid’s house and rip him and his parents a new one. She kept assuring my sister and I that nothing would happen to us, that words were just words but if they ever touched us to let us know and she would call the police. Looking back, saying “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” to a bully made sense but I’m sure the words were lost on him and on us and didn’t help much.
This neighbour who used to bully me… was 2 grades ahead of me in school, but having failed 3 grades, was 5 years older and a LOT taller. He was mean to the core and not that smart in so many ways. His parents didn’t seem to believe that he would be bullying me or my sister so the act kept going until he finally graduated.
While I remember these events like they were yesterday, it was one nasty comment from a girl I sat beside in Hebrew school who caused me the most trauma for a very long time. She was a bully and although I do not remember her name, I remember the look she gave me when the below incident happened.
When I was in grade four I was wearing a t-shirt that my parents had bought me for my birthday – early 80’s here folks – and it was a grey shirt with a sparkling grey iron-on that read; “Behind this t-shirt is one terrific kid”.
The first time I wore it to my Hebrew school this girl turned to me and offered up this comment; “Behind that t-shirt is one fat slob!”
I never wore that shirt again and it made me very aware at a young age that people were looking at me and judging me, and no matter how much I weighed (248lbs when I was 13, or 190lbs when I was 18) I always felt that someone was going to direct a comment like that at me. It hurt and I never forgot.
I guess the point here is that no matter what form bullying comes in – physical or emotional – it’s still bullying and as adults we have all been bullied and in some cases, we have bullied others. By raising awareness around what constitutes bullying I hope our kids will see less bullying than we had to put up with and will be able to identify when they are bullying someone else and put an end to it. Sure, bullying will never completely go away but I don’t want my kids being worried about stepping out for recess because a kid 5 years older than them is going to want to push them down a hill and laugh at them after.
Now, to the title of this post…
I heard about and watched the video of the news reporter – Jennifer Livingston – who received an email from an infrequent viewer who went on to criticize her for being overweight and a poor role model for children. His email was 100% inappropriate and was clearly offensive. He may have thought he was protecting girls of the world from obesity, but he was bullying this woman who was reporting the news.
I tried to figure out what kind of person feels compelled to tell another person how to live their life? It’s not just about what people consume, but how they dress, how they keep their hair or what they choose to do with their bodies. This guy doesn’t know why she’s overweight. He doesn’t know if she is battling an illness or if this is a life-long issue which she has been dealing with. His opinion, and comments were not necessary.
So when reading up on some blogs, I came across this post called You’re Amazing, Jennifer Livingston. It’s extremely well written and prompted me to re-post it, something I have never done before. I recommend you click-through to the link and give it a read as well. Send that author some love too.
I also hope that you will take the time to post about how you were bullied growing up – there was something freeing about getting that out in the open – and I, for one, will be paying attention to my kids to make sure they do not bully others and if I find out that they have – there will be consequences. I think it parents actually paid attention to their kids behaviours and comments they made in front of the kids, then they would not be contributing to the problem of bullying but helping to make it obsolete.