Sunday, August 24, 2008

Give a Little Bit

I have been overly blessed with Samantha in my life. If I could sum up my parenting experience thus far in one simple phrase it would have to be "not nearly as bad as I thought it would be." I'm not trying to blow off the difficulty at all or attempt to undermine parents who struggle, it is just my particular situation. I'm not one who has ever been accused of being overly optimistic. I'm cautious and cynical. If you ask me whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, I'll say half-empty and ask suspiciously why you drank half of my drink. I will continue to be wary of you until you have earned my trust by not taking my drink for the next five years (give or take a year). Considering my natural-born predilection for trepidation, suspicion, and my pathetically deficient threshold for pain, it's no surprise that I was terrified of pregnancy and childbirth. Throughout my teen years I honestly thought about adopting just to avoid the whole painful mess. I spent 9 months of pregnancy trying to come up with a "plan C" for birth. No vaginal delivery, no C-section, there has to be an easier way. We walked on the moon for crying out loud! Are you telling me we can't find a better exit for this kid? To my surprise, pregnancy wasn't horrific. Childbirth wasn't nearly as horrible as the Alien-esque bloody fiasco I had mentally prepared for either. I don't plan on doing it again any time in the immediate future, and I am more than willing to be the national spokesperson for epidurals, but it wasn't as bad as expected.
Once that hurdle was clear, I dreaded the newborn stage. I was a nightmare baby myself. My mom and dad will both testify that I was born the intense control-freak that sits here now. Actually, in the name of accuracy, I'm pretty sure I've mellowed since birth. The fact that my parents had my brother and sister is either a testament to their undying optimism in the human race or evidence of their need for medication. Considering that most nights I wouldn't sleep longer than 45 minutes and would only let 2 people on earth (one of whom lived out of state), hold me without me screaming like a howler monkey, I would incline towards the latter. My parents used to have to pry my clenched fists open to clean out the lint while I howled. I'm not Hindu, but I was pretty much convinced Karma was out for me on this one. The fact that I was a horribly nerdy and obedient teenager was my only hope to cancel out the bad points I must have racked up in infancy.
Instead of what I deserved, I got Sam. She is a wonderful baby in every sense of the word. She sleeps, she smiles, she is the poster-child for easy-going. We took her to Las Vegas this week and she handled the 6-hour ride each way amazingly well. She was less overstimulated and crabby from the noise and hubbub than I was. She goes with the flow, she is patient and lovey. She's the infant version of her father in personality and appearance. Samantha has Daniel's smile, his mouth, his baby-bald head--I looked like a hybrid monkey/troll doll from birth and didn't lose a hair. She is always on the go, just like Daddy. She has to be standing up all the time, and is not content to lounge on the floor or the couch, my favorite pasttime. She loves to watch TV, but only if she's doing something else at the same time. Playing, eating, trying to kick her toys from her bumbo. The only part of me I see in her is that the little hair she does have is dark, not red. Plus, she's chubby like Mom, not Dad, but what baby isn't a little chubby in the thighs? She is for all intents and purposes, a little Daniel--everybody says so.
Sam is such a good baby that despite the fact that Daniel and I are both complete worrywarts--he worries about money and keeping things spotless and I stress about everything else--we have even decided that barring a horrible toddler phase, someday way down the road, we would like to have another child. It may sound lame and non-committal, but trust me, this is a big step for us. It took Daniel three years to ask me out (we don't make any decisions lightly), so it's a good indicator of how our angel baby has changed our lives.
I realize that Sam's disposition is only fair. To have two women as intense as I am in one household would be the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. I am very grateful for everything about her and love her more than life itself. I married Daniel because he balances me out completely and together we make a perfect set, so I'm not sad that our baby seems to be so much like him--he's great and if she turns out just like her Dad, I will be happy forever.
Being the insecure person that I am, there is a however attached to that.
You knew it was coming.
Deep down "in places you don't talk about at parties" I hope Samantha will have just a little bit of me in her someday. I may be a hot mess in a lot of ways, but I do have several good qualities. When properly channeled, my intensity is passion. I am passionate about justice, learning, and doing the right thing. I work hard at whatever I do and won't settle for less than my personal best. I love to laugh and I do have a sense of humor. I can see the funny things in sad situations and despite being intense about outward things, I don't take myself too seriously. I always try to help others and it is my goal in life not to be narcissistic. I'm loyal to my family and have a deep capacity to love them.
It may be an act of Divine intervention that my infant is not just like I was. If she were, I might be dead by now. I do wish though, that my little girl will develop a few qualities of mine throughout her life, give me just a little bit of myself to carry on. I'm not all bad. On occasion, Sam will have a hard time settling down for a nap and scream until she is rocked to sleep. On those rare occasions, I secretly hope and pray that this isn't my only contribution to her personality--the rare but memorable panic-attack. We will see what the future brings for my little girl, and only then will I know if she will give a little bit to her poor over analyzing Mommy.
I sure hope so.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's My Last Day!

That's not something I get to say very often, but it's true.
Monday was my last day babysitting. Let's just say I learned first-hand why women are not physically capable of having children 4 months apart. If they were farther apart in age, I could have kept it up--they were too close but not close enough. The perfect storm of baby. Unlike twins (whose parents I have all new respect for, by the way!), they were developmentally fairly far apart. Addie is twice Sam's size and can crawl. Fast. Sam is just big enough to want to play on the floor and learn to move, but not mobile enough to fight back or get out of the way. I really like Addie, but the first thing she would do was make a beeline for Sam and try to poke or slap her face. It's just what 8-month-olds do, and what is more fun than a living, breathing doll that cries when you poke her? The end product was that one of the girls always had to be confined to my arms (Sam's favorite, Addie hates that), or the exersaucer (Addie's favorite, Sam still slumps too much). I felt like I wasn't a good mom or baby-sitter that way, plus their propensity to tag team nap made sure I didn't get even a minute of peace for 11 hours solid. I hate being 0 for 2 on the "good care-o-meter", and as a perfectionist, it was killing me. I'm a firm believer that kids need interaction and to not be dumped in an exersaucer for hours on end, which is why I quit my job to stay home in the first place. It just wasn't worth it to not be giving my baby that interaction and not be bringing home good money to compensate for it.
Unfortunately for me, I also hate quitting things because I feel like a total failure. It was a rough time the past few weeks. I didn't think I could possibly feel any guiltier about life in general. Luckily, being a mom helped--Sam is my first priority and the guilt that I was letting her down completely trumped trying to help my friend out and made the decision easy. I'd rather fail at being a friend than being a mom. Still a lot of guilt to go around though. I don't know where I get it, but I can feel bad for things that aren't my fault like nobody's business. I was one of those kids that was deeply embarrassed to be white when we learned about the Civil Rights Movement in school. Like I was personally responsible for slavery and segregation or something. I wasn't even born yet and my family is from Wyoming and Canada (not bastions of oppression), but still, I felt guilty. I would have apologized to somebody if it wasn't East Mesa where the whole student body was as caucasian as me.
I digress--back to the topic at hand.
I'm not going to pretend that not having to get up at 5am three days a week also played a big part in my decision not to sit anymore.
I was so excited to not have to do that anymore that I was really banking on sleeping in. I was downright jazzed.
Big mistake.
We finally inched Sam's bedtime up from 10:30 or 11pm to a respectable 8:30 or 9. On Monday, she went to bed at 8pm, and woke up at (ta da!) 5:30am. Ahhh, parenting. How is it that kids always find your biggest weakness with what seems to be zero effort? Waking up early is Mommy's kryptonite, and Sam went for the jugular on that one. No fair.
Now, my baby who used to sleep until 9:30 in the morning is always up by 6 am. I guess I shouldn't have looked forward to sleeping after Addie was gone.
Despite the little pink rooster I have living down the hall, once I made the decision to quit and stuck with it, I've never felt better. Knowing I did right by both Sam and my mental health has lightened my load considerably. Starting Monday evening after Addie left, Sam had the giggles all night. I think the relief I felt knowing I could actually get to my housework and wouldn't have to feel like I was shortchanging a child no matter what I did was palpable. Maybe someday, I'll feel better about all the other stuff too. Like those starving kids in China--I'm already feeling better about not finishing a meal now that I've convinced myself it wasn't like the food was on a truck bound for either me or China and chose chubby me instead of the poor Chinese. It took me like 15 years, but its another sign I'm making progress.
So here's celebrating that I had a last day instead of a first one! Now that I know I can handle two kids (even if only barely), handling Sam solo is no biggie at all. I also found within myself the ability to speak up for my baby and me when I need to. I'm slowly but surely figuring out how to say no, starting here, and working on doing it guilt-free. Lessons learned, and they don't come cheap, but wow, are they worth it!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, I'm in Love

You know that old Cure song? The one that goes like this?

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love

Saturday, wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate...

I don't care if Mondays black
Tuesday, Wednesday - heart attack
Thursday, never looking back
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday, you can hold your head
Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed
Or Thursday - watch the walls instead
It's Friday, I'm in love

Personally, I love the tempo and can sing the entire thing, but I never got the lyrics. I always thought it had to be written by a jerk. Who is only in love on Friday, and what kind of masochistic psycho would be with someone like that? No only that, but what kind of self-centered bozo would make a big show about the fact?
Now, however, I have a theory. This song was written by a stay-at-home mom. My husband is that masochist, and I am that bozo.
Keep in mind that I don't take it nearly this far. I would really really care if Daniel had a heart attack on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I love my husband every day and he is wonderful.
but, I have to admit,
I love him so much more on Friday.
With our insanely exhausting weeks, weekdays are kind of, well, crappy. "Monday you can fall apart" and we both do. Daniel gets up early for work, I get up early to baby-sit, he studies and goes to school at night, and I try to do laundry while dancing around like a monkey to keep Sam and Addie happy. Mondays stink, and I am usually close to tears by the end of our 18-hour days. Daniel comes home with a stress headache and whines a lot. We give every ounce of niceness and energy we have left to Sam. If we are going to get into a big battle, Monday is a good day to fall apart.
"Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed" I've dreamed about this a lot, but as discussed earlier, I don't get sick days. I have however, stayed in pajamas all day more times than I'd like to admit publicly, and you can't love someone as much when you feel grodie yourself. The only inaccurate part here is that I am the one in PJs, not my love.
"Thursday, I don't care about you." It's not intentional, I'm just too numb. We are both going 24/7, he with all of his important tangible things, and me with my important and rewarding but incredibly repetitive and draining mommy duties. By Thursday, both of us are watching the walls and might not notice if one of us imploded in front of the other. I'm frustrated at going non-stop at this baby thing and feeling lonely, he's frustrated at working like a dog and having all the pressure of providing on his shoulders.
Fridays, ah, Friday, my saving grace. Friday there is a tangible change in our home. We still get up ridiculously early, I still baby-sit and attempt to clean while entertaining two infants, but we know that a break is coming. Friday is date night. Friday is the day I put on actual clothes that are not covered in spit-up (if I can find some). It is the day Daniel comes home in such a good mood that he remembers to kiss me. It's the day I get the most help with Samantha because school is a weekend away and he doesn't have to get up at 5am the next morning. We go out to dinner together--all three of us, and we stay up to watch movies after Sam is asleep. We fall asleep on the sofa 20 minutes into it. "It's Friday I'm in love!"
Daniel can spend all day Saturday catching up on the homework he blew off all week trying to spend a few hours with us girls each night, and Sunday going to meetings for church, but Friday makes it all worth it. I remember why being married is wonderful on Friday, even if it seemed like a total mystery by 10pm on Thursday.
So, it took me like 15 years, but I finally get where the Cure is coming from, and I also don't mind being a jerky bozo. I still love him, "Eight Days a Week," but that's a whole other post.

I'm Patty Hearsting it over here

Nine days. That is the record stretch I just went for not leaving the house. I was gone for exactly 1 hour that whole time. Nine entire days. How truly incredibly sad. How did this tragedy happen you ask? Well, take three days a week watching an 8-month-old without a car seat on top of your own 4-month-old and those are automatically out for venturing. Two of those nightmare days I have a husband at work and in school from 5am until 11pm so I am too much of a shell by the end of the baby-sitting day to go anywhere with the baby, and too busy trying to recover the days after to leave the house then. That makes five. Toss in two bouts of illness on the weekend--first I thought Sam was getting sick, and then I was really sick, and before you know it, nine days have gone by. Daniel even does all the shopping on Saturdays because I've always hated doing it.
On the plus side, I've never had a bottle of foundation last so long. When you only put it on every nine days, it can really go forever!
Here is the problem with not leaving the house for nine days. Sometime around day 6 or 7, the four walls of your cage become your new best friends. I don't want to leave them, they love me. Some days they are the only thing that talks back to me. My house gets me. It forgives me for leaving clean clothes in the guest room piled on the bed until I outgrow them rather than fold them neatly. Around day 7 I turn into Patty Hearst. I love my captor and will do anything for it. I spend WAY more time with the sofa than my husband (not that that is exactly a new development post-baby), so of course it truly understands me and has my loyalty. This past stretch ended on day 10, when Daniel came home and offered to watch Sam while I went to the store or something. I looked at him like he was trying to physically hurt me and said "What is wrong with you? I can't leave!"
He looked right back at me, as if there was nothing wrong and said "Why not? Is the baby hungry and you have to feed her first?"
He just didn't get it. "No, the baby is not hungry. I just can't leave. It's not worth it to get in the car, drive somewhere, get out of the car, do something. Wear real pants. Oh man, makeup. It's over a hundred degrees out there! What is the point? I have to be back in an hour anyway. I think I'll just stay here." Suddenly, I started wondering exactly when I became agoraphobic, but there it was, I was afraid to leave.
"Honey, I think this means you really need to leave. You're making a permanent dent in this sofa cushion."
"Hey, don't you dare take this out on the cushion, it isn't the sofa's fault! I love that sofa! That is Sam's favorite spot for me to sit while she practices standing which she does for at least 5 hours a day. She will not freaking sit-down when you hold her anymore! She has to use her legs, she's advanced, Daniel! I can sit in that spot and hold her and still reach the Exersaucer when Addie is playing in it, and when Sam is on the floor it's the best spot to sit and watch her roll over without making my butt hurt on the floor, and it's my favorite spot to nurse and watch TV. I love that spot and are you calling me fat!!!!???"
After that little outburst he pretty much kicked me out the door. "At least go grocery shopping or something. See you later. We'll be fine."
So I went to the store against my will. I shopped and browsed and noticed just how chipped my pedicure had become for the first time in weeks. I wore real pants (well, okay, still maternity jeans because I will NOT buy jeans in my current size, but the point is they did not have a drawstring). I talked to a grown-up checker face-to-face and legitimately smiled when they asked me if I found everything all right. I listened to my radio station in the car and did not have to sing "C is for Cookie" to try to get someone else to calm down.
When I came home, I was in a good mood and not thinking at all about poop. I call that a major victory. I smiled and said to Daniel "you have to kick me out more often." He laughed and said he'd do his best.
My house was still there and welcomed me back. What a great house not to hold a grudge.
Now I have to go. I'm getting kicked out again to go to the grocery store. Thank heaven.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I am busy, busier than thou!

I've decided to throw down the gauntlet and take on something that annoys me more than pretty much anything these days--the "Busiest People in the World" aka BPWs (let's face it, I am way too busy to type all that each time!). You know who they are--they are the ones who volunteer to do things no one asked them to do, but then make a big show about how hard it will be to get it done. I'm not talking about people who legitimately can't fit things into their schedule, I have no problem with people saying no when they can't do things. I'm specifically complaining about the people who say things like "Okay...I will make Mom's birthday cake from scratch using nearly impossible-to-find foreign ingredients, although heaven knows when I will find the time [deep sigh], after all, Jimmy has T-ball (of course I am making fresh California rolls for my snack turn), Katie has painting and kung fu (I'm weaving her a canvas and sewing her a new uniform), Jake needs a new belt so I have to make that(you mean you've never smelted your own copper!?), and I am curing cancer and running the school bake sale next week...[another deep sigh]."
You're busy, we get it.
For the record, we also didn't ask you to make Mom's cake from scratch using carmelized saffron from the Netherlands, we sent an email asking if someone would be able to pick up Mom's cake from Costco on their way to the party, and don't worry, I'll get it. I'm not curing cancer for at least two weeks.
The BPWs equate busy-ness with importance, which is why they are more than happy to rattle off their list of activities for you. You would think that with their seconds being far more precious than the crown jewels, they wouldn't deign to speak to someone who spent 30 minutes today just watching her baby sleep, but if they don't take the time to tell me how important they are, how else will I know? How can I feel inferior if they don't tell me I'm inferior? Ahh, the conundrum of the BPWs.
Unfortunately for them, even when they go out of their way to tell me how much harder their life is than mine, I still don't care. So, you have three kids and I have one--if I tell you that you are three times more important than me, will you go away? You are appalled that I didn't volunteer to hand-paint T-shirts for every person at the church social even though I am just a one-baby mom with no job and swimming with free time? I'm sorry you feel that way, you should leave in a huff so I can get back to trying to make Sam giggle. Maybe I am swimming in time because my priorities are different than yours. Perhaps it is just possible that in my book, filling my time with piddly crap no one needs to do is actually a waste of time. Possibly, I consider making memories with my one child more important than spending time justifying myself to people I don't really know. My baby is healthy and happy, my house is *relatively* tidy, and I help out my friends whenever they need it--I see no need to smelt my own copper.
There are people out there who are doing majorly important things every day. There are people who accomplish more before 8 am than I do all day long (I'm married to one of them), but they are not the ones yakking about it. There are people in existence who seem to take on everything and to it well, the ones that just say "I've got it" and you are wondering how they can handle it all. These legitimately busy people don't make a stink or a show, they simply are happy to help and don't have the time to tell you how busy they are. My husband is the kind of person who will only pipe up to help if he can, and if he can't, he will just say "I'm sorry, I can't, I have to work."
People--one excuse is all you really need. Daniel could say "I'm sorry, but I work 50+ hours a week, attend school full-time, and volunteer at church. Oh, plus I'm a new dad and have to play with my daughter and give my needy wife constant attention. I'm also a clean freak so I've taken on responsibilities around the house that most people would find ludicrous. You can see that I'm just too busy." That would never happen though; Daniel is way too nice to try to one-up someone else. Let's all learn from his example.
To all the BPWs:
I'm proud of you for being so busy, now lets all commit to not using our overscheduled days as an excuse to lord over someone else--of course, none of you are reading this, you simply don't have time for me. I really appreciate those of you who did read my rant though. I was able to write it because I don't have anything else to do. I'm kidding, I have plenty to do, I just don't feel like it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's my first sick day

So, I had a mom growing up. Obviously, since I've written about her before. The point is, that there are a few situations I mentally prepared for after years of observation.
I knew how it always was at our house when a sickness was going around. The entire family would get it one by one and Mom would take care of us. We were all a bunch of unapologetic whiners and the question "Am I dying?" was guaranteed to be thrown around with as much seriousness as though we had all been diagnosed with some terminal illness, even with a common cold. We are a family of wimps, what can I say? Mom would bring us drinks with bendy straws (because bendy straws are practically a miracle medicine), clean up our midnight barf episodes, and tell each of us for the millionth time that no matter absolutely positive we were that we were 105 degrees, we actually did not have fevers, and to stop taking our freaking temperatures every 5 minutes. She would get particularly frustrated when Dad and I would alternate with the thermometer contending to see who had the worst non-fever (98.9, take that!). After we all miraculously recovered and were back on our feet, Mom would fall victim to the malady.
If she asked us if she was dying, we would say "Geez, get over it, we all lived." She still had to be the finder of lost things, because no matter how sick she was, it didn't change the fact that I was missing one Sunday shoe. She got poked and asked "are you sleeping?" by my sister, and had to take a forgotten school lunch to my brother. She was still Mom, fever or not, still Mom, barfing or not. Still Mom, and still needed.
I saw all this, along with added testimony from my mommy friends that there are no sick days, and being ill just means your husband is going to become helpless and irritate you more than any normal day. I saw it, I heard it, thought I understood it.
Today, I lived it.
Being a sick mom sucks worse than I imagined. I've been sick alone in a college apartment during finals, I've been sick for my own wedding, and I've even spent part of my honeymoon throwing up violently in a public restroom (no, I don't want to elaborate). I've had entire workdays filled with pregnancy nausea. My point is, I know what it is to be sick, even without my mom or hubby to pamper me. I don't like it, but I've done it. I know what it is to be sick and have to keep going for my own good. I had no idea what it is to be sick and keep on working for someone else. It's relatively easy to get up and go when it's your final grade or your job on the line. It's easy to call in sick and let someone else screw up your job for a day. It's even somewhat easy to get up in the night to take medicine and try to clear a breathing passage so you don't sound like a chainsaw. It's harder to get up at 2am to feed a screaming baby when you just don't want to. It's hard to give your husband a pass on baby duty when you feel lousy, even though you know he's got finals for graduation, plus an 11 hour workday, and volunteer work for the church on his plate today, plus he doesn't feel so hot himself. It's really hard to balance the need to take care of yourself, your baby, and toss on the stress that you'll infect your husband or child and make life worse for all of you.
I'm sure better moms than me will say it's easy to put themselves last, or it's a labor of love and they don't mind, or something equally nauseating, but the fact is that for me, in this one capacity it's been excruciating. I've given up my job, my sleep, any semblance of attractiveness I once had, my waistline, regular forays outside of my home, and most of my brain capacity for my little angel and not genuinely missed any of it (okay, my brain I miss). It has been hard, but not nearly as hard as I thought. What I get back from my punkin doodle has made the sacrifices seem small. Oddly enough, giving up my ability to spend a day curled up in bed watching trashy talk shows, doped up on Nyquil, eating chicken soup and feeling bad for my pitiful self has been the toughest hurdle yet.
I guess it's because for the first time ever I am realizing that there will never be a circumstance that makes it okay to be selfish again. All those times I thought it was acceptable to make it "all about me" pale in comparison to the fact that I am living for others now, one of whom starves without my existence. So, maybe she won't starve--they do make formula--but the fact is, no one has ever needed me as much as my daughter. My selfish days are over forever, because I will always be a mom now, and I will always have a mom outlook on things. I guess realizing it intellectually and realizing it in reality are two different things. I didn't know that until this hit me like a ton of snot. On the plus side, I am surviving my first mom sickness with no violence directed at my husband, yet.
Oh, and for the record, I still feel disgusting.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Teach your children well

It may be my first day and all, but there are a handful of things I do already know.
Recently, I've overheard parents saying things like "we want our children to be comfortable in our home and know what's ours is theirs" while their children run rampant and wreak havoc on the house. I've also seen parents breathe a sigh of relief on a patio or private room in a resturant while letting their kids have run of the place because "they aren't bothering other diners." All these parents are operating on the assumption that we teach our children manners to make life better for us as parents and that truly loving parents don't give restrictions because it is selfish to do otherwise. These assumptions are wildly incorrect, and I just can't help but say something I've been taught my whole life in response.
People pay parenting coaches a lot of money to get gems like these and I'm offering them up for free. You can thank me later, when you're less mad at me.
Here it comes, everyone!
We teach our children manners for them, not for us.
Children who are not given limits in their own home do not grow up less stifled, they grow up to be jerks. Children who do not respect their homes and know that there are certain things that can not be touched will go into others' homes with the same philosophy that everything is theirs for the taking. You may not own anything expensive or breakable, but maybe Grandma does, and if your kids treat her house the same as yours, I predict that invitations to return will be few and far-between.
I can remember many a friend who was not allowed back to our house because they would not respect the rules. I did not grow up in a "babyproof" home. A safe one, yes, but not the plastic-dish, rubberized-edge, baby-gated fortress so many kids today have. My parents tried to keep certain rooms nice and cleaned up and I was not allowed to mess with them. Period. When company came over and I toddled into the room, sometimes they were surprised to learn a kid even lived there. Had they gone to my bedroom or familiy room, they would have seen an explosion of toys on the floor and all the messes of childhood, but the living room area was off-limits. We didn't have money, it wasn't like I was in danger of breaking our Ming vase, but it was important to my parents to teach me to respect certain things. It's a lesson I never forgot, and I never got in trouble at other people's houses for breaking things because of that. I innately knew not to touch without being asked if it wasn't mine. Did my parents enjoy keeping things from me just for the sake of doing it? No. They did it because they wanted me to be the kind of kid who had friends, who got invited to things, who was respectful. If you are thinking to yourself that maybe I was just a good kid and easy to teach, you may be right, but you haven't met my sister. She was the get-into-things type worse than either my brother or me, but that just meant it took more work and was even more important to teach her.
The lessons remain intact and worth teaching years later, children with manners become teenagers with friends. I'm terrified of the work required to teach all this to my daughter and know it will be hard, but I also know that, like potty training, it is worth the work. So, even if they're cheap and you really don't care if it is broken, keep a few things off-limits for your kids and teach them what it means to respect them. A couple things might be broken in the teaching process by the payoff is beyond tenfold. Your parents' antique grandfather clock would thank you if it could talk, and you'll be grateful when it turns out your friends are no longer "way too busy" to hang out with your family. Surprise visits will no longer be met with deep sighs and a hurried trip around the room to hide everything of value from your little cuties.
Oh, and next time you're all alone on that resturant patio, take the time to teach your children that its still a resturant and how to behave. I promise you'll be way less embarrassed the next time you go out, and the patio is not available. Besides, wouldn't you rather your kids learned the punishment for a public tantrum before it becomes too public for your taste?