Nights at the Roundtable ~ Vol. 1

We had to have a “Roundtable” discussion night before last.  These are our family meetings at the square dinner table.  This one was called to discuss attitudes and responsibilities Monday through Thursday night with our older kids.  It had become so haphazard at our house that Zohrhubby and I were just randomly walking around hollering and fussing and generally making asses out of ourselves, in random spits and sputters.  We decided it was time to convene the Roundtable, to lay down the law.

Zohrhubby:   “Since we’re all here, your mother and I would like to talk to you about what all has been going wrong the past few weeks.”

Blank stares all around.  Little B and Little A aren’t sure what’s going on, but can tell by their dad’s tone that they best just be quiet. 

Zohrhubby: “Who wants to start the discussion?”

Zohrhubby:  “So, what, no one wants to talk?”

I give him a glare like he’s slightly retarded. I mean, really?  You think these kids who think that we are awful and mean and have no hearts are going to START the discussion that they can only assume will end in their dreams being shattered? Really? 

Me:  “Okay, guys. Here’s the dealio:  Your daddy and I have spent most of the past few weeks fussing and hollering and bitching and moaning and quite frankly, I’m tired of listening to it.  I don’t know about you guys, but your daddy fussing at you over and over and over and over gives me a friggin’ headache.”

Zohrhubby looks perturbed, but now I’ve got their attention.

Me:  “And the only reason he has to do that is because you don’t LISTEN to me, and I give up too easily and I lay it on him and then he gets the results I’ve failed to get, which comes at his expense, because you treat him like he’s the meanest person on the planet.  Which is hardly fair. So, I just want to start over with the discussion we had BEFORE school started about what is required of each of us to get through a school week.  Four days a week, we have one set of rules and chores, and the other THREE days a week, you are pretty much able to do whatever.  I want you to understand that the things that are expected of you Monday through Thursday are not punishments, they are only what each of our roles are to get everything done that needs doing to survive the week.  Understood?”

Little B:  “Understood!”

Little A:  “Understood!  Hey mom, I know what rhymes with CAT!  BAT!”

Tween C and Big E:  mumbling some things that might possibly be construed as a positive response.

I then go into each of their respective duties, the proper way to do each of them, as simply and plainly as humanly possible.  I stress the need to show respect to the other people in the house, with words and actions.  I tell them how if we are each responsible for our own messes, then the big picture doesn’t seem so bad.  I ask them for their input on how best to accomplish the simple goal of a stress-free week, by managing to get everything done in a timely fashion and leaving time after dinner for relaxation and winding down. 

Now, they are hearing me. 

Big E:   (With an attitude all over his face)  “Well, if you are asking me to critique…I’d certainly like an opportunity to think about it for a minute.”

Me:  “I’ll give you a minute.”

Little B:  “Mom, my new name for “butterflies” is “flutterflies” because they flutter around so delicately, and they aren’t even made with butter!”

Tween C:  “What about rewards…for like, grades and stuff?”

Big E:  “Yeah, what about that?”

Me:   “I don’t understand. That’s not we are talking about.  We are talking about what happens around here during the week.”

Big E:  “Well, not just grades and stuff, but like where’s the positive stuff?  All we get is this is wrong and that is wrong.  Where’s the good part?”

Zohrhubby:  “Try doing something right, and give us a chance for the good part.”

Me:  “Well, no, that’s not what he’s saying.  Right E?  He means what’s it to them?  Right?”

Big E:  “Yeah.  I mean, all we get is this taken away and that taken away and my phone gets snatched out of my hand just because I’m looking at dates on my calendar on my phone at the table, I’m not even texting or anything…”

Me:  “No.  You’ve had that phone out at the table many many times over the past week or so and I’ve had to threaten to take it.  Your daddy just does it.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  You know the rules.  I don’t care if you are talking or texting a buddy or texting Google to find out what color Mars’ atmosphere is.  No phone at the table means no phone at the table.”

Big E:  “Okay, but what do we GET.  Not just what doesn’t get taken away.”

Zohrhubby, who has the attention span of a bucket, walks away.  I don’t even know where he went.

Me:  “You get to live here.  And eat.  And watch our cable television.  And talk on your cell phone.  And listen to your ipod.  And search the internet on our dime, on our computer.”

Big E:  “But not Monday through Thursday.”

Me:  “No.  Not Monday through Thursday.  Because…”

Big E:  “I know, but if we get everything else done, and then there’s nothing for us to do, why can’t we get on the puter or play the xbox?”

Me:  “TV.  You can watch tv.”

Big E:  “But the tv in the den is taken by you guys, and the tv in the living room is taken by the little kids, and me and C have nothing to do.”

Me:  “Hmmm.  Okay.  I see what you are saying.  We’ll have to think about that.”

But there was no thinking, no considering, what happened next happened so quickly I’m not even quite sure how it happened.  Before I knew what was going on or what I had gotten myself into, the older kids had proposed, justified and sealed the deal on two new rules:

1.  They get to stay up till 9:30 now.

2.  They get to alternate computer and tv time after the little ones go to bed at 8:30.

Dammit.  I knew the day would come when the outside world would influence and inform my older children that 8:30 is too early a bedtime for a 12 year old and a 16 year old. 

When Zohrhubby came back into the room, the kids were more than happy to tell him how we’d resolved our issues. 

When the kids scattered out after supper to get their chores done, Zohrhubby asked me quietly:  “What the hell happened when I left the room?!  I thought they were in trouble, now they get to stay up later?!”

Me:  “You totally left me hanging.  I was outnumbered. It’s all your fault.  Oh, and before I forget, don’t ever call them “butterflies” again….they are now to be called “Flutterflies”.”

Zohrhubby:  “Yeah, I was there for that part.”

That night, the two older kids sat up late(r) and watched tv with ZH and me.  They made comments on the show, giggled and talked over the tv to one another.  They were giddy with power.

I went to bed early.


About zohrbak

Zohrbak is an old email username I had a while's a made-up twist on two characters from Spaceghost. Zorak and Brak. I'm a geek. I am a married, working mother of 4 children, ages 4-15. I also have interests outside of my children, but I can never remember what they are.
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16 Responses to Nights at the Roundtable ~ Vol. 1

  1. Dear Ms. Zohrbak,
    Mother Hen here.
    Mother always goes with the carrot and stick method of discipline herself, which means reward if they do what they are supposed to do and consequences if they don’t. All negative and no positive makes for a cranky nest.
    It was inevitable that your older chicklets would become involved in the negotiating process sooner or later. After all, you didn’t raise them to be robots. You may have hoped for that, but having a brain is much more useful at school, after all.
    Where this went a bit off course was that the rewards are only supposed to happen if the little darlings have done their part first. Unless Big E and Tween C had done their bit that day, the TV and later bedtime shouldn’t have happened.
    Okay, so you were tag-teamed by the brood when the rooster left the nest. Been there! Just clarify the rules now, and there may yet be peace in our time.
    Constructively yours,
    Mother Hen
    P.S. MH loves the roundtable idea! Now if she can just get a table…

    • zohrbak says:

      Dear MH,
      I was gravely aware of the mistake I made, but to be honest, they are being stronger and faster and bigger than me with every passing day. To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. However, they have been awfully “chipper” since that evening, and I think that progress has been made in our ultimate goal of world peace. Well, peace in my world, that is. As always, thanks so much for your advice and support. It is greatly appreciated!

  2. Aimee says:

    You’ve been making your 12 & 15 yr old go to bed at 8:30!!!! I wouldve run away already. My little 2 don’t go to bed til 9. Karate and gymnastics don’t even end til 8. They start to get up at 6 am and thats still 9 hours of sleeping. So yeah, I am with the kids on that one. lol.

    I love flutterflies. They are my fav. If I ever get a tattoo, thats what it’ll be. They epitomize what I want life to be. Beautiful, graceful, free to enjoy the most beautiful aspects of life. Colors, life, joy.

    Your answer for what they get in return was, in my opinion, perfection. Kids never seem to get the fact of what their life would be if their parents didn’t provide for them. They need to EARN THEIR KEEP. I tell mine this all the time. I try to hold it over their heads that they would have starved to death already if it werent for me. LOL.

    I am proud to see your kids showing independence. They should. If they aren’t, then they will never be prepared to leave your home before 30. I am still feeling sorry for ZH, bc I see he isn’t ready to loosen the apron strings so they can learn how to be strong people. I think this part of parenthood for him will be terrifying.

    But, ya know, I really feel like that if you control them too much for too long, then they don’t know how to act when they are officially free and you CANT stop them. So, you do have to slowly little by little give them more freedom to make decisions for themselves. I talked a lot about the bedtime….I really don’t give Cody or Aron a set bedtime. At first it was kind of a problem. They would oversleep, or stay up too late, but now, both of them are always dead asleep by 10 and I never have to tell them a thing. They figured out that if they don’t sleep that THEY feel bad. So, they just go to bed without me saying anything. Sometimes it 9, when Jake and Cole also go up to bed. Sometimes its 10. Occasionally if theres a specific reason they may stay up longer. But my they get up by their own alarm clocks. Cody and Aron go to school together so, they help each other out. But, all I ever do is open their bedroom doors each morning so that in the case they should need me to yell up at them, they will hear. But I cannot remember the last time I had to even yell at them. My two younger kiddos, they wake up really good. I do have to match their clothes, bc they would look like clowns every day if I let them choose all of their own clothes. lol. But they come down, and now they both make their own breakfast. Eggs, toast, juice. I’m lying. They eat cereal. lol. Every morning they leave the house at 7:10 headed to the bus stop. And I don’t even have to remind them anymore. I kind of feel useless. Sometimes I’ll look up from the paper at like 7:15, and think, OMG, I hope Jake and Cole left. And they always have.

    I am really proud of who my kids are. They are growing up to be strong. Strong minded, disciplined, hard-working, and not fearful. I’m glad I responded to this one. Sometimes, I need to be reminded how good my kids are despite their mistakes. Even if I have to remind myself by writing out about little things like bedtimes and getting to school.

    I lectured Aron the other day about how my JOB in this WORLD, my only important purpose, was to make SURE that I did my best to turn the 4 of them into this world as productive, strong, purposeful, and good people who are able to take care of themselves and their families with respect for GOD and others. WHat more do we leave in this world? I know theres a song that says this……it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, It’s what you leave behind you when you go.

    So, bravo for round table meetings. Bravo to C and E for getting more out of it than you and ZH did. Means you ARE doing your job. Thats FREAKIN SUCCESS.
    Thats what its all about.

  3. Aimee says:

    Boy, that got deep real fast.

  4. YaYa says:

    Love to hear about you getting steam rolled by some kids! Excellent job Big E and Tween C!!!!

    & I wanna go with Aimee to get a flutterfly tatoo, b/c I always said I’d get one more and that word is just too COOL – Little B should start his own thesaurus

  5. Summer says:

    You’re so nice. Sounds like everything worked out, and I’m surprised you were able to get away with the 8:30pm bedtime for the old ones this long. LUCKY.

    I reward Straight A’s by letting them pick out the restaurant (within reason) the next time we eat out. Oh, and I bake their favorite sweets. It’s inexpensive, and I reap the benefits as well. If you ask my sons what they get for chores, they recite the following: “We are a household. We all must do our part to ensure this household runs smoothly and efficiently by pulling our own weight when asked. No one pays mom to do our laundry or scrub toilets. Oh, and our reward is for her not to bill us for our share of the mortgage and utilities, and God forbid the groceries. 🙂

    • zohrbak says:

      “You’re so nice.”

      Huh? What’d I do?

      Oh, and I love the robotic recital you’ve drilled into your kids’ heads. I am going to paint something like that on the walls down my hallway, so that they can remember that because that is GOLDEN!!

      • Summer says:

        By “nice” I was meaning the way you allowed them the TV/Computer swap and bedtime change. I’m not very good at compromising with my kids. Or my husband either. 😉 It’s something I’m working on. It’s as though when I issue a rule (usually a new rule- when they’ve driven me crazy), I’m too stubborn to relent. Then I feel bad when our house seems like boot camp. Ya know.

      • zohrbak says:

        Oh, that’s not “un-niceness”…that’s stubbornness! And I’m a whole lotta stubborn. They just wear me down, and when I’m tired, I’m all about, “Whatever! Just stop talking to me!”


  6. ZOHRMOM says:

    Well said by all. I am proud of E and C for their accomplishments!
    For the record, I think you are all awesome parents.

  7. ZOHRMOM says:

    Oh, I will help you paint the litany in your hallway. I love that!

  8. zohrsis says:

    Hmmm…roundtable discussions…getting flashbacks to Pat and Ray…

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