Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Birthday Camel is Watching You!

I awoke this morning, after only three hours of sleep, chewing on a memory.  I repeated it aloud a few times so I wouldn't forget, but only really succeeded in waking myself up beyond the point of re-nap-ability.  So here I am--8 am, dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, load of laundry in, Hapkido uniform washed and hanging, just sweaty enough to feel gross.  And I'm thinking about the Birthday Camel.

I think we all have parenting failures.  I think that, often, they arise from that mix of personalities, the clash of different ways of thinking and feeling.  You see, our boy, especially when younger, didn't really respond to reason.  It wasn't possible to explain why he shouldn't do something.  He's on that "spectrum," you see, and so he fixated, reverberated, and often boiled over without ever really hearing us.  The one thing he DID respond to?


I know, I know--all the "wow, you suck at parenting" things you're thinking?  I thought them all myself.  But when reasoning, pleading, wheedling, and bribing fail, you're left with three things--punishing (like time out), threatening, and beating.  Since the first never worked (not allowed to use duct tape on five year olds, and he wasn't inclined to go alone with time outs otherwise), and the third isn't an option, we landed on the second.


Santa, of course, was great for much "get in line or lose out" fodder.  Yes, we're atheists.  Yes, we went the Santa route.  I remember once cruising the local "Christmas Village" with my sister, her now-ex, and their kids, who were perhaps five and six.  They were (or actually, my sister was--her atheist husband was rolling his eyes) making a very big deal of waiting until our boy, who was then five years old, was within earshot, then pointing out that Santa isn't real, but baby Jesus is.  We made an equally big deal of telling our boy that the jury was still out on Santa, but that everyone knew Odin and his mythological pals were just fun stories from a long, long time ago.  Nothing like family to make the holidays warm and fuzzy.

So, the Santa threats worked.  Yes, there were many calls to Santa, letting him know our boy was misbehaving.  And every one of those calls had the desired effect--they diffused otherwise pitched situations.  Understand, Santa calls were always a last resort.  After everything else, including the confiscation/sequestration of toys, failed, we'd call Santa.  The problem?  Santa is a seasonal thing--he works great, maybe October through December, but in March? 

Not so effective. 

I don't know where the Birthday Camel came from.  I was caught in the throes of a particularly wowser boy-meltdown, grounding him off toys and activities wasn't working, and from some weird corner of my mind, I belched out, "Keep this up and the Birthday Camel's gonna trot right by on your birthday--NO presents for you!"

And it worked.  Just like that.  The eyes widened, the screaming stopped, and he said. "But . . . I'm sorry!" 

Now, you're probably wondering why we didn't just give him "cooling off" time.  The answer is simple--he didn't cool off.  As I said, he reverberated, he escalated, even when we refused to engage.  There was no way to put him off by himself--he would refuse to disengage.  Telling him to stay in his room or sit in a chair?  Fruitless--he'd follow, screaming, shouting, and sometimes more.  On rare occasions, he would require physical restraint to keep him from doing us harm.  I know, sounds horrible, and, at the time, it was.  He grew out of it.  Thank goodness, huh?

So the Birthday Camel galloped (gallumphed?) to our rescue.  Thank you, Birthday Camel!

On a different note, we cruised by Costco last night--they were closed (lousy hours!), but we wanted to check the gas prices.  We'd heard stories of their amazing petrol prices, but they were only three cents cheaper than the station we normally go to.  So much for imagining the gas savings would pay for the membership.  That leaves me leaning toward BJ's because their hours are markedly better and they accept manufacturer's coupons.  Plus, they hand out free 60 day trial memberships.  I'll have to see what BJ's return policy is like--Costco's rocks.  The next step?  Go to each place and write down prices. 

The boy's alarm just went off, but I'm not going to force it.  We were up playing Monopoly and bad 60s/70s music until after 3 am.  I'll give him another couple of hours.

Speaking of that boy (which is really all I've been doing all morning), I think we'll be signing him up for the next programming course through  Coursera.  If you haven't checked them out, you should.  They rock.

Oh, and also--the horse-head mask came yesterday.  For reasons completely beyond me, our boy saw one online and absolutely had to have one for Halloween.  Go figure. 


  1. This story made me laugh. I'm not even a parent and I'm guilty of this. See, when my nieces were younger I told them it would be okay to swear around me, because I'm "cool Aunt Heather". Actually, it was just a theory that they were going to cuss anyway and I could teach them the proper time and place to use those kinds of words. Well, it backfired when my adorable, angelic 5-yr-old Chloe called somebody a fucker while we were shopping. When we got to the car, she was proud of herself and my other niece was mortified. So I said, well, you can say those words, but every time you do, another hair grows in your mustache. That's why I have such a thick, dark mustache (I really do) because I swear so much. That was my way of not taking back permission to swear, but it got Chloe to think twice before she used that language. Which totally negated my intentions of teaching them the right time and place for those words... sigh. I've done better with the younger nieces, now that they are old enough we talk about how even if you substitute "freaking" or "witch" instead of the real thing, the word has the same meaning and it hurts people when you say it. Then they close my bedroom door and swear like pirates.
    As for Costco, around here their gas prices are usually 10 cents cheaper per gallon. I like their store brand (Kirkland) because it's healthier stuff, they even have good dog food, and some of it's organic and whatnot. So I prefer them to Sams, the other big box store in town. That's my two cents.
    Sean can be a reverse centaur for Halloween!

  2. Birthday Camel--that's brilliant! And a horse head, huh? Ours is going as a hot dog this year. Boy's minds never cease to entertain me.

  3. A hotdog! A simple dry dog, or with all the fixings? I never had a girl, so no princesses, no woman-in-white/zombie brides. I get dead zombie soccer player and horsehead. I'm smiling, though, so that must be good enough :-)