Raising Burt Reynolds

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This morning I told Liam to brush his teeth before going downstairs, like he has everyday since he became bi-pedal and demonstrated the motor skills to brush his teeth. He rolled his eyes at me and ran down the hall with his plastic lightsaber before going downstairs. Ewan, whose motivation to obey comes from the delight in telling on his brother, shouted: "LEE-YUM DINIT BRWUSH HIS TEEFS!" Then Liam shouted back and Ewan responded in a louder tone and they went at it for however long it took me to scrape my exploded brains off the floor.

Liam started to notice girls mid-way through the year, right around the time he didn't want me to kiss him on the cheek anymore whenever I'd drop him off at art or Spanish class. Great. So it begins I thought. One day after his home lessons he placed a crumpled-up dollar bill in my hand, winked and said "Thanks for the lessons, hon. Here, go crazy." I sat there and blinked; he was a tiny Burt Reynolds, save for the chest hair, beef-burns, and gold-rimmed 70s sunglasses. He bought candy for some girl at an event we attended recently; she skipped over to show all her friends and they clucked like a den of gold-diggers. I've never met Clay Aiken's mom but I'm pretty sure that I sounded like her with that last line.

Liam is just a few years from that dreaded land called 'tweendom, a place where some Adam Sandler look-alikes called the Jonas Brothers live, a place where Disney starlets flounce around and act wholesome, a place where innocence is a commodity. Dramatic much, yes.

He's started acting a little sassier at home and developed a habit of not listening. I may as well talk to a cigar store Indian; the results would be the same. I tell him not to do something, he does it. I tell him to do something, he doesn't do it. He wasn't always like this and I've decided to fight fire with fire. He doesn't wash up and come to the table for dinner? We'll eat without him. "Dude, you missed eating with us? Guess you'll have to eat cold food by yourself. Sucks for you." Or "Oh, you didn't put your dirty laundry in the clothes hamper like you were told? Wow, that's probably why I didn't wash any of your clothes. I just don't see them if they're not in the hamper. Guess you won't have anything clean to wear tomorrow, huh? Bummer." There's also "Oh, you didn't do your independent reading last night? I'll have to mark a zero in the grade book for that assignment. No makegoods, sorry." It's working beautifully. Chris and I refuse to hold ourselves responsible for his bad behavior and Liam will be taught out of the gate that his actions have a consequence - whether that consequence is negative or positive depends on him.

We also recently unveiled "grounding" in the house of Loesch, and I'm not even going to fake that I didn't feel a little flutter the first time I uttered the phrase "You're grounded." I don't enjoy dishing out punishment to my kids but there's a certain irony in saying that to your spawn. When my mom would tell me that I was grounded I always told myself how mean she was, I was just so misunderstood, I would NEVER ground my children because I will be a better, more inventive parent. And then I grew up and realized that I use some of the same tactics my parents did and if I met up with my teenaged self, she'd think I sucked, too.

Age has a cruel sense of humor.

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