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Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Photograph by Getty Images

As my 10-year-old was leaving for school this morning, I noticed he hadn't made his bed. I called out, "Um, is there something you forgot to do in your room?" in the annoying way the mom in a cereal commercial would have said it, probably while folding her arms in front of her. He scampered upstairs and made his bed. Don't worry, I didn't stay in cereal-mom character and high-five him as he came back down the stairs, but I did feel like I taught him the importance of creating good habits. Later that morning when I returned to my bedroom, I noticed that we had forgotten to make our bed. Looks like Bossy Pants needs to slow her roll. Then I started to think of other things I often preach and need to practice, myself.

1. Don't act like a baby

Of course, I don't say this to my infant baby. But I do say it to my 10-year-old. I say it when he makes a big deal out of what I deem to be a small injury. Like when he rolls around on the floor after stubbing his toe on the leg of the couch. At first I give him the "Aw, that sucks. You OK?" But after five minutes of dramatic rolling and toe clutching, I just get pissed and command, "Come on! Quit acting like a baby."

He gets what I mean but doesn't ever act offended, and I think it's because he thinks babies are pretty cool. So I rephrase, "Toughen up! Seriously." And he sort of responds to that and stops rolling, but he's still clutching.

Maybe I was worried that, being a single mom until 18 months ago, I was raising him to be too soft. Well, the other day I was running to answer my phone, and I hit my toe on the leg of the couch. I fell to the floor, clutched my foot and rolled around on the floor for at least five minutes. Conclusion: I'm a jerk. In a big way. But perhaps the biggest reason I'm a hypocrite for telling my son not to be a baby? I still have a blankie, and I often still sleep with it. Shame and hypocrisy.

RELATED: If Kid Rules Applied to Adults

2. Don't be gross

I'm always barking: "Wash your hands," and "Go take a shower," "Change your shirt" and "Don’t be filthy!" Basically, I want him to give two rips about personal hygiene. I'm a hygienic person, but the up-with-baby, sleep-deprivation thing has made not being gross less of a priority than getting sleep. The other night, I was half-asleep, haphazardly changing Stella's poopy diaper. In the midst of hastily wiping her tush, a little fleck of poop flipped up onto my top lip. With an almost robotic motion, I wiped my lip with the back of my hand, finished changing her diaper and went back to sleep. ... Who's gross now?

3. Eat your vegetables

Yesterday, I ate Cocoa Krispies for every meal. I'm not proud of it, but it happened.

The steering wheel of my car is pure Golden Rule kryptonite.

4. Don't eat too much sugar

See No. 3.

5. Treat others as you would like to be treated

This rule is so important. I want my kids to be kind, fair, empathetic people. I try my best to follow this rule, but I gotta say that the steering wheel of my car is pure Golden Rule kryptonite. I've made a resolution to work on my road rage. It's immature and is a terrible example of treating others the way I want to be treated. I don't want someone to mad dog me from the next car at an intersection until the light turns green. And I don't want to be called an ass-wipe. Even if I do deserve it.

6. Don't swear

My son has never said a mean word, let alone a swear word in his life. And here I am, telling him not to swear, and 'effing up constantly. I started that whole swear jar thing for myself, but I never have cash on me, so Evan just keeps a running total in his head. I think last week he said the jar is up to $103. But I'm pretty sure he's adding some for effect. Man, I'm a hypocrite and also in denial.

7. Trust that everything will work out

I'm constantly saying this. I do my best to practice this, but I often slip up. Kids don't have the tools of life experience that we do to reinforce the benefit of this mantra. Because of this, I always thought this one to be a difficult perspective for kids to grasp. Until five years ago, when I was losing my mind over a storm of events, which culminated in me bursting into tears in my car while at a stop sign. My then 5-year-old little boy sat quietly in the backseat, looking out the window and calmly said, "Remember, Mommy, everything always works out." My heart exploded with love for my son, and suddenly life was beautiful again.

RELATED: Parenting Rules You Can Break

8. FOCUS!

I get so mad when I tell my son to do his homework and he proceeds to sharpen his pencil for 20 minutes. And then when his pencil is sharpened, he has to go to the bathroom. And then spends 20 minutes in the bathroom. And when he finally sits down with his homework, he proceeds to daydream in between math problems. Three hours later, his 45 minutes of homework is done. But, I am not one to point fingers. I just spent 45 minutes picking my split ends. The baby was napping, and I could have accomplished a zillion other things, but I picked my split ends.

Turns out Bossy Pants has a lot to work on. Mama needs to check herself. And check myself, I will. Right after I tell my son to quit procrastinating.

Explore More: discipline, parenting styles, Am I Ruining My Kid?
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