After seeing all of the recent Christmas decorations at nearly every retail location and reading or hearing what stores will be open what hours on Thanksgiving day, it would only seem to be appropriate to have a Christmas post. Not wanting to follow common convention, I have only used it as a springboard rather than as a commentary on commercialization…
As my kids grew to have personalities, they also grew to have unique ways to go against the system of rules, both written and unwritten, that allowed our household to function, As part of this, each child had a unique pressure point we would ocassionally have to push to help them remember those rules and the importance of obeying the one responsible for implementing and overseeing whether they were adhered to the rules (i.e. the parent). (By definition, some household rules may be “stupid”, but stupid parents have been making the same stupid rules for so long, that the stupidity of the rules has become so ingrained it is now thought to be wise.) Each child required a different pressure point to encourage their cooperation in our mutual journey through these “rule-heavy” years of the “single digits”. (With our kids, the adolescent years have seemed much easier when a slightly firm hand was used while they were younger.) I think the “naughty names’ was most effective on my oldest daughter, but in the spirit of fairness, all of them were occasionally forced to be recipients of the “verbal abuse”.
- Terrible Tim: Our oldest fit the definition of first born. He wanted to please. Almost every time we asked something of him, he responded on the first request. His “naughty name” was usually only used when followed by a wink.
- Jerky Jeffy: This nickname did not get used often. I didn’t like how it flowed. It didn’t mean he didn’t deserve the name. He often required multiple requests to get moving and on task. On the positive side, he was usually smiling when he got there. A stern look could keep him from truly crossing the line.
- Crabby Abby: She was know for her intermittent meltdowns. When all other methods of getting her attention had failed, the “Crabby Abby” name got her attention. (Her name also lends itself to “Grabby Abby” and “Gabby Abby”. When she was playing nicely, either of these other names might also have applied.) Uttering this name made her pause and evaluate how others might be perceiving her. Fortunately, she was then sensitive enough to calm down. We also found it was unfair to refer to her by her nicknames after bedtime-her bedtime continues to be rather necessary. Post-bedtime does not bring out the best in her!
- Rotten Rachel: For nicknames, I far prefer the use of rhyming rather than alliteration. This nickname is no exception. It is difficult to picture my youngest daughter being anything other than sweet and helpful. Part of this “fogginess” is likely due to our doing foster care for most of her first 6 years of life. She “had” to have a name, but I either didn’t have to use it often, or the rest of the chaos in our lives far surpassed the possible mischief of our youngster. I have since been told by my older daughter how the sweetness was a partial mirage-she was not always as innocent as she tried to appear.
My kids have never been naughty enough to blow their commercialized Christmas reward. They are good kids, and we have never allowed coal into our household. We try and be fair with packages and fair w/ our budgets for each of the kids. As they open each package, they typically say “thank you”, and only sometimes do we feel guilty that we didn’t spend more on them.
Naughty or nice, kids need rules. And, coercing our kids to obey the rules was customized to the individual child. We messed up sometimes; we nailed it sometimes; and we were left wondering how to do it better most of the time. Nicknames was only one of the weapons in our arsenal against the cry of “Mine, mine, mine!” When the goal is a well-adjusted adult, every weapon is valuable – whether an existing tool or a new weapon/technique from a book.
Bottom line – God didn’t make any mistakes. Are we patient enough to find the right technique to help each child thrive?