Thursday, December 22, 2011

My No Texting and Driving Experiment

We've all done it. You're in your car, your phone makes a beep, or a ring, or a buzz. You pick it up.You may look at it for a second, just to know what caused the noise, or you may sit and read an entire email. If you've never done this, you either 1. probably don't have a smartphone, 2. are in the minority, or 3. are lying to yourself.

The stories, pictures, and videos of accidents caused by "texting" and driving are horrendous. I place texting in quotations because it's not just the action of sending a text message to a friend. People drive and watch YouTube, catch up on Facebook, read and write emails, or even play games.

I am the first to admit, that I have "texted" and drove. And I have done it a lot. Since Molly arrived, I have tried very hard to ignore the phone while she is in the car, as if only doing it when it's just me in the vehicle makes it ok. As if Molly losing her mom in an accident due to my stupidity and selfishness is ok. As if losing the life of a child, or someone else's mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle is ok because I chose to read an email while behind the wheel.

Judge me all you want, but think, REALLY think about how many times you've even just taken a peek at your phone while behind the wheel in the past month. If you can say zero, you're pretty impressive, but I bet most of you cannot.

Last week I decided to put an end to it. I gave myself a challenge. I needed to go one full week without using my phone in the car. I did allow myself to answer phone calls, (yes, I know there is danger in talking and driving as well), but I was not allowed to check email, voicemail, Facebook, texts, etc.. I purposely left the volume on, as I needed to truly learn how to ignore this thing that consumes my life in so many ways.

The first day was the hardest. Immediately after pulling out of the parking lot at work, I received a text message. I reminded myself that I couldn't look at it. My mind started racing. What could it be? Who was it from? The curiosity was killing me. I actually contemplated pulling into a parking lot just to check, or breaking the rules just this once at the next stoplight to see who could need me. And that's when I realized something scary. These phones..they are an addiction. They are life-consuming. It's like being an alcoholic. You do everything you can to justify that one drink..that one text message. It's pathetic. It's dangerous. It's wrong.

Wanna know what happened over the past week while I ignored my phone in the car? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Nobody died. Nobody reamed me out for not responding to their message immediately. Nobody asked if I had dropped my phone in the river. Nobody cared.

By the end of the week, I still twitched ever so slightly when the phone buzzed and I still had to remind myself that I couldn't pick it up just to check and see who got in touch with me. But my eyes stayed on the road, and  I got home knowing it wasn't just sheer luck that caused me to arrive in my driveway without harm to myself, my family, or someone else. Even while at home, I noticed a difference. By the end of the week, I was no longer jumping up out of a play session with my daughter to check my email or respond to a text. My phone spent more time on the counter than it ever has.

Put your phone down. Tune back into your life. Keep your eyes on the road. What would you do, what would you think if someone crashed into you, hurt you, or hurt your family, just because they needed to respond with a smiley face to text message, or couldn't go two more seconds without knowing that some guy they haven't seen in 15 years just watched his kid use the potty for the first time. It's not worth it.

Put your phone down. Put your phone down. Put your phone down. It's really just that simple.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Learning to Discipline

I remember when Molly was a newborn. People would always tell me "don't worry, it'll get easier." Today I'm looking at those people like they are freaking crazy. Sorry new moms, I hate to break it to you, but it does NOT get easier. Does it get more fun? YES! But easier? No way. Yes, you have a lot of sleepless nights with newborns, and the dreaded "witching hour" every evening. But then they become mobile. At first it's just a roll-over and you need to make sure they aren't on anything high or near something dangerous. Then it's the crawl, and you need to keep your not-so-babyproofed-because-this-snuck-up-on-us house in order and your eyes on them all the time. Then the walking starts and they no longer want to sit or be held in public because, hey mom! I can walk! When they are newborns, man it is EASY. I watched more Grey's Anatomy than I care to admit. Now I've lost 20lbs, run around all day, and hope my kid doesn't stick her finger in a light socket, because I'm sure that like, next week, she'll be tall enough to do it.

My battle right now is with discipline. From day one, I have been very blessed to have a happy child, and she still is one. But she's starting to push it. With her grandparents and at school, she's an angel. Dad gets a bit of attitude, but mom, mom's the clear winner. I get hit. I get my hair pulled. I get my sweet lovable laughing child turned she-devil as she thrashes in my arms and her high chair. Where, I ask you, WHERE did this child come from?

It's not all the time, but often enough that I'm starting to realize a hard, cold fact - my kid is becoming a bit spoiled. Whine a little - do you want a snack? Cry really hard - oh I'll hold you and we'll sing. She's on to me.

Fundamentally, I get discipline. I was a high school teacher and you can't be a high school teacher without understanding the very fine balance between friendship and authoritarianism. I know when it is obvious she's just wailing for attention that I need to ignore her and she will stop. But it is HARD. Today, while she played me a fool while laying her head on my shoulder and patting my back just so I wouldn't put her in the exersaucer, I stood there bawling my eyes out because I am so scared of disappointing her or making her hate me. And yes, I know, this is how kids become spoiled and parents become walked on like a New York City sidewalk.

I try to remind myself that it actually is a good thing when she acts out. She has feelings. She has emotions. She's smart enough to know what's going to force a response for me. She's developing which is exactly what we want her to do. But doing what I need to do is so very hard for me.

So, fellow moms, what tips do you have? Not tips on how to handle the discipline with your child, but how to handle YOURSElF when disciplining. Do you walk into the other room and cry like I do? Do you stare into their eyes as they look at you with hatred and sing your favorite song about the Caribbean and think of margaritas? How do you handle yourself when you know you have to do what's best for your child and hardest for you?

And please, don't tell me it'll get easier. :)