Don’t Smile!

(A repost for newer folks to this site.)

My Beloved and I found that one of the hardest things about disciplining our young children was staying serious when scolding them—especially when every instinct in our bodies and minds wanted to smile or burst out laughing.

For example, call us weird, but it was funny to us when one of little boys was potty-training peed in the cat litter box—-at least the first time he did it. (It got a LOT less funny when he kept doing it and then did it when we had guests over.) But either way, we couldn’t laugh or it would spoil the lesson we needed to teach.

And sometimes, even when we couldn’t laugh, we did. I know; Bad Parents!

What made it even worse is when, for example, one of us attempted to keep a straight face while explaining to the child why they shouldn’t stick pudding in their sibling’s ear, while our dear spouse cracked up with laughter.

We began to make up rules for each other:

“When I’m scolding a child, don’t smile, giggle, snicker, laugh, or guffaw, and for goodness sake if you are going to do those things please do it in another room, and if you won’t do that, please at least stand behind the kid and do it silently so they don’t see or hear you doing it!”

In our house, trying to enforce rules with our spouse tended to be more like making suggested guidelines. We are both wired in such a way that a demand or ultimatum is GUARRANTEED to produce the exact opposite effect of whatever the original demanded outcome was supposed to be. So we both learned it was MUCH better to request or negotiate rather than to make demands.

Anyway, back to disciplining the kids. They started getting wise to our ploy of being serious when they were facing us while their other parent (the one standing behind them) did their best remain silent as they exploded with laughter. The kids started to quickly, and without warning, turn around to try to catch the parent behind them with anything other than a serious face.

Woe to the parent who got caught!

Of course, as soon as the child turned their back on the parent who’d be standing in front of them, the roles would reverse and Ms. Smiley Pants had to be Ms. Serious, and then I could go from being Mr. Serious to Mr. Smiley Pants, or vice versa.

Now, we’re grandparents and we get to watch our adult children go through the same thing with their children. Unfortunately, the expect us not to smile when our darling grandchildren are being scolded. My Beloved and I manage to comply with such requests.

Well, at least most of the time. ;-D!

About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Children, Family, Family "Fun", Fun, Parenting, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Don’t Smile!

  1. heila2013 says:

    “… peed in the cat litter box—-at least the first time he did it. (It got a LOT less funny when he kept doing it and then did it when we had guests over.)” Ha ha great!! It’s much better to laugh than be angry!

  2. There were many times when I wanted to laugh but had to hold it in till after the lecture was over, although there were times when I had to walk away and leave it to Tim because I couldn’t stop myself from laughing…………

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