You can sit on the couch until you’re sorry Missy (or why I can no longer send Rosie to her room)

Ah, I complained when Rosie was eight that I couldn’t find a way to punish her that worked. Now that she’s twelve, I try and take away all technology and cancel play dates (actually they just “hang out”). Still if you ask me, I’m not mean enough. My kid would tell another story. This was first published on 08/05/2009.

When I was eight and I was bad, my mother sat me in the corner in the kitchen between the door to the basement and the door to the garage to “think about my behavior.” (To this day those words still put the fear of God into me.) She’d set the timer and I’d stare at the wall.

I spent some good, quality time in the corner. I distinctly remember the sounds the doors made when I kicked them. The basement door was wood (it made a loud THUNK) and the garage door was steel (it made a louder BAM).

I’d sit for hours and contemplate my wrong doing while the percussive door sounds drove my parents up a wall (this also drove the timer up in minutes, but what did I care?).

 When Rosie misbehaves, I send her to her room.

“Don’t come out until you’re ready to behave (be nice, listen to me, say you’re sorry, whatever behavior needs to be modified at that time),” I yell.

Yep. That's how my kid perceives time out. One big party.

Yep. That’s how my kid perceives time out. One big party.

This strategy was effective when Rosie was little because there wasn’t much for her to do in her room. When she threw a tantrum she had a bad habit of throwing her toys over the railing. I’d stand at the bottom of the stairs and load up a garbage bag. So, her room remained a toy-free zone; perfect for punishment.

Today, it’s filled with Build-a-Bears and Webkinz. Her American Girl dolls have a school in the corner. And, the shelves are filled with books. It’s like a little slice of heaven for a soon-to-be nine year-old.

And, I must be the slowest mommy in the world, because I never realized that until last night.

Rosie was bad. She was crabby. She had an attitude that you wouldn’t believe. So, I snapped the TV off and told her to go to her room.

There was no “think about your behavior and you’ll be able to come out and play.” I banished her to her room and told her, “It’s almost bedtime anyway. So stay there and just go to sleep.”

“DON’T COME OUT!” I bellowed. And, then I put my hands on my hips, gave her the “I’m not kidding look” and stormed away.

I was proud of myself. There was no negotiating. No listening to her say, “I’ll be good Mama. Give me another chance.”

I was the mother I always said I’d be. I was firm. I was tough. I was serious. I thought it was an incredible success as punishments go.

I went to my room, changed into my jammies and enjoyed the silence. Turned on the TV and watched a show on HBO with bad words and suggestive scenes. When it was over, I went to go check on my child who I assumed had cried herself to sleep, feeling sorry for her bad deeds.

Instead, I found all the lights on and the Hannah Montana soundtrack playing. Five of Rosie’s stuffed animals were having a spectacular tea party. And, a half finished Tinkerbell puzzle was on the floor.

My Rosie was lying upside down in bed, in her silkiest pajamas, reading a Junie B. Jones book. She looked happy as a clam. She was having fun.

That’s when I realized that sending her to her room was no longer punishment. She wasn’t sorry for her actions. She was having a great time.

And, I was mad. I ran to the CD player and hit the stop button as hard as I could. I tripped over a couple of bears and kicked the puzzle. I yanked the book out of her hands and turned off some of the lights.

And, then I looked at her and said, “The party’s over. You’re going to sleep! NOW! And, you’re not coming out of here until you say you’re sorry. Good night!”

And, then I walked away.

The next morning, I took the dog for a walk and called my sister. I told her about the night before. How I failed to successfully punish my child.

“I’m not mean enough,” I told her.

“Know what?” she said. “Next time, stick her in the dining room and make her stand up with her nose in the corner. She’ll be sorry”

I thought it sounded like a good idea. And then I remembered being eight years-old sitting in the corner in the kitchen between the two doors. My mom would set the timer and after a while I’d get a little bored (and probably a little angry) and begin to kick. 

First I’d kick the wooden basement door (it made a loud THUNK) and then the steel garage door (it made a loud BAM) 

THUNK BAM. (Left foot first, then right)

THUNK THUNK BAM (Left, left, right)

BAM BAM THUNK (Right, right left)

I remember my Mom running back to the room. “You just added five more minutes to your time! You stay there until you’re sorry”

Yep, I spent a lot of quality time in the corner. Did it work? Maybe. Would it work on Rosie? We’ll see. At least there are no doors for her to kick.

Ladies, how do you punish your children when they misbehave? Is time-out successful for you?


Lessons Learned on the Playground

My blog has changed since I started writing on The Star’s site in 2008. Back then, I wrote a piece each week about our lives. Rosie was in 2nd grade, had no cell phone, no Instagram account and no interest in what I was writing. Now that Rosie’s a tween, I can’t be as honest as I once was, but the lessons we learn each week are just as poignant and painful. 

This week, I’m bringing back some of my favorite posts. Each one hits home as we’re learning new life lessons in middle school although now my wisdom’s not always accepted. This was first published on November 20, 2008.

MP900202055“She’s not my friend anymore. She’s mean!” my daughter exclaimed as she got into the car. She threw her backpack in the seat next to her, buckled up and took a deep breath. “Don’t cha want to know why?” she implored, her blue eyes tearing up. For a fleeting moment it appeared that she was mustering up the courage to continue. Then she said, “Well let me start at the beginning. You see….” And she began to spill the details of the whole sordid mess.

It’s tough to be a girl. Little girls are taught to play in circles, holding hands and giving everyone a turn. It begins with Ring around the Rosy (a magical time even when we all fall down) and continues to the friendship circle that they make at the end of each Brownie meeting. But sometime along the way, most little girls realize that life is not always elliptical. They walk around school in straight lines. There are triangles formed with groups of three and sometimes a pyramid with someone on top.

We all know that person and many want to be she; the line leader in grade school. She’s the girl that everyone wants to follow. She whispers her secrets into her docile girlfriend’s ear and then roars with laughter.  She’s not above bullying to get what she wants. She links arms with her followers, turns her back on you and walks away leaving you to wonder why you are not part of the circle. As the years pass, you move on to create your own shapes of friendship and know it will be better when you’re all grown up.

But is it? I’ve come to realize in my forties that nothing changes as women age. The childhood patterns of play remain constant throughout life. That became crystal clear the day I walked on the tennis court for a lesson and watched in amazement as eight of the eleven women walked to the far court. It was a clear snub, but it had an upside; we got to hit a lot of balls and got a great workout while they spent a lot of time standing around on a crowded court. I looked forward to the next week as I was curious what they’d do. After a repeat of the juvenile behavior from the week before, I moved to a class on another day.

There’s a reason it’s called an inner circle. It’s where all women aspire to be. Women want to be included. They want to be part of the ring that’s formed when like minds come together. But oftentimes they regress to the behavior that they learned as a child. They freely talk about their foes. They bully and cajole. They forget the reason that they weren’t included in the first place. The lessons they missed on the playground. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Play nice. Be fair. Take turns.

I see the pain in my Rosie’s face as she relays the details of the day. “We were all playing and Caitlyn came right up to me and grabbed the ball out of my hands. She said it was hers. And all the girls, they agreed. I didn’t have anyone to play with. They all walked away.  And, it wasn’t her ball. It was the school’s ball. I had it first.” She began to sob, not understanding why she was excluded.

I found myself at a loss for words as I knew nothing I had to say would make her feel better. Sobbing the backseat, she was inconsolable.  Left out of the circle, she was heartbroken. 

 Knowing that this was the first of many times that my child would feel left out, I murmured words to soothe her. I told her that it was wrong to be selfish and the girls should all share and play together. I went on to say that we should always smile and say nice things, even when treated unfairly. Then I stressed something that took me years to understand; while you should try to be friends with everyone, sometimes it’s an impossible feat. She would need to find her own ring of friends. She rubbed her eyes and shook her head, accepting my wisdom.

As moms, what are we worth?

As mothers I’m not sure that we pause to think of the economics behind everything we do (and I don’t think it matters if you’re a SAHM or one that works). We’re the ones that get up with our kids in the morning and drop everything to rush to school when they’re  sick. Many of us pay all the bills, do all the grocery shopping and run all the errands. We are the CEO’s of our little slice of the world making decisions that affect the livelihood of everyone around us.

Moms choose to wear many hats- short order cook, cleaning lady, nurse, coach, math teacher and psychologist. And, we’ve learned to be adaptable and flexible making changes in parenting strategy on a moment’s notice. We’re often circus performers as we can juggle, tame wild beasts and clown when needed.  We work at least ten different jobs in one day depending on the needs of our families.

So, how much are we worth? This question was posed on Facebook in a group of some of the most talented women I’ve ever met. Some of them have been working moms forever. A few came back to work last year after staying home with kids. All of us wound up unemployed, looking for the next big thing and asking the same questions. What’s our value? I’m a researcher by nature so I Googled it.

Infographic created by

Infographic created by 

It seems that the average working mom is worth $124,892 with a base salary of $34,000 and $90,000 of overtime for mom duties (wouldn’t that be great if we got paid that for all we do? The overtime, I mean). But it really doesn’t answer the bigger question of how do we as mothers value our expertise in so many areas when looking for a job? And how do we have the courage to ask?

Last week, I was presented with an opportunity that honestly was a pretty good professional fit. Until we got into all the nitty gritty. I was going to have to work 8-5 with no flexibility. And, I was going to have a 30 mile commute three times a week. As a mom, that didn’t really work for me. I was too far away from my child in case of emergencies and I’d probably never see her with school and dance.

But the biggest deal breaker for me was the compensation. I was offered a base salary that was $5,000 below what I made when I came out of grad school in 1994 (when adjusted for inflation). And, the commission potential was less than I made in the 2004 (the last time I worked a traditional 8-5 job). With 20+ years of experience, coupled with the fact that they contacted me which meant they were really interested, I was quite frankly insulted. So, I declined.

Professionally, I am worth a helluva lot more than that. Personally, I value myself as a good mother and feel that our lives work well just the way they are. So, I am still sticking to my plan to look for the perfect fit. In the meantime, I’ve secured a couple of clients and will work for myself. That means I can still work all my other jobs- chauffeur, professional organizer and amateur tennis player- just to name a few.

I know what I’m worth. How about you?

Take the time this month to check out some other amazing blogs!

Well Hello There Snarky…

Dear Sherry (aka Snarky in the Suburbs),

While the world wondered who you were you ranted about everything in the burbs that irked you in a way that made some readers incensed but the majority entranced. Blogging anonymously (which I’ve never had the luxury of doing since I wrote for a newspaper first), gave you the ability to candidly write about the world around you that was uber-honest and funny as hell. We all have neighbors like Mrs. Snarky’s Neighborhood, we just can’t out them online lest they throw flaming bags of dog poop on our porches later. Because you were hidden behind a 32 ounce Diet Coke sitting quietly in our backyard you could.

Everyone thought you lived in their neighborhood. Knew their friends and enemies. Understood why it was so important to not be that cool mom and just be your old middle aged self-cankles and all. So most could relate. And, the moms that couldn’t probably saw more than a little truth in your observations or they just chose to rock their Miss Me jeans and move on.

When you came out this week (sounds almost a little dirty), the world saw your face for the first time (you are lovely BTW) and then I’m sure there was a little shock for many residents of Johnson County Kansas (in full disclosure I did know who you were. I just kept my mouth shut and giggled). You just happened to be their neighbor and when you weren’t writing hypothetically as you say you were in your new book, they just may have been featured (which has me wondering if you’ve had a spike in site traffic as there are probably many overly-thin women scouring the posts while eating boxes of donuts).

I will miss the candor of your blog, however, I enjoy the fiction that you are creating now with the experiences that you’ve had. I look forward to watching your show on ABC to see how they translate all that snark into 30 minutes of story line every week that will hopefully have all of us who are stuck in the burbs something to laugh about. Best of luck to you and thanks for giving all of us middle aged bloggers hope that there’s something bigger out there.




Yep. I caved. But the Jump Convention was awesome!

The last dance convention we attended, Rosie was seven or eight. I dropped her off with the rest of her team at the Westin Crown Center and wasn’t encouraged to stay because there wasn’t enough space. Picking her up at the end of the first long, grueling day it was clear that she was completely overwhelmed and really didn’t get a whole lot out of the experience except a snazzy zebra outfit that showed her bare midriff (which I was once vehementlyopposed to but now after 9 years in the dance world I give in ).

At the time, we were in such a different world. Our dance studio competed (albeit much more cleanly and age appropriately than others. You can read our last comp experience here) and we were spending a small fortune on costumes, eyelashes, glitter and all the things needed to get on stage and win four times a year. It was wearing us out. Plus, after a trip to the ballet where Rosie watched saucer-eyed and declared “I want to do THAT” we moved to a studio that focuses on professional prep with ballet at the foundation. We love it!

However, I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that every once in a while Rosie gets that competition itch. She still has friends from our old studio that compete and I try and feed her desire to dabble in that world by taking her to see them every once in a while. Gives me a good chance to let her enjoy the performances but point out how stressful the days are. Plus we get to laugh at the blinged out dance moms, scoff at some of the bad technique and revel at the five year old’s who shimmy and shake like strippers. We always come away knowing we’re in the right place.

This year, our studio decided to attend a convention so we signed up. Coming back from a serious injury, I thought it would be good for Rosie to have a fun, casual dance experience before she went back into her technique classes. Plus, when I checked out the JUMP website, there happened to be some really cool people on the faculty like Mia Michaels and Melanie Moore (if you don’t know who either of them are then you obviously don’t watch So You Think You Can Dance). It was the chance of a lifetime to take classes from dance royalty.

Season 1 SYTYCD winner Nick!

Season 1 SYTYCD winner Nick!

As you can see from the smile on my Tween’s face the convention was a hit from night one when she took a partnering class with Nick and Melanie (and got a big hug and autograph from Nick). She barely slept that night excited about the next two days. There’d be Hip Hop, Tap, Contemporary, Leaps and Turns and of course the competition part where she’d get to see some of her friends perform.

It's Melanie! Season 8 SYTYCD winner

It’s Melanie! Season 8 SYTYCD winner

The best day was Sunday. She had classes with both Mia and Melanie (and yes, Melanie is just as cute and sweet in person)! What a thrill! When Rosie looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mama, I know the studio won’t do this again next year, but can I?” I immediately said yes. It was a great experience despite all the hairspray fumes and glitter. What talented faculty and so much fun!

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