The Squeaky Wheel

So it’s been said, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” As an idiom, it means that the one who complains the loudest… well, they get the attention and the fix before the other applicants.

I would much rather not need grease.  I would rather be quietly content.

As parents, we need to be fully aware of the fact that our kids will turn into some derivative of us one day.   I am very similar to my parents in many many ways, but I’m blessed with nothing less than hard-working, joyous, exceptional souls as parents.

I’m not saying I’m all those things, but I am fully confident that the path they’ve shown me – tread by love alone – will direct me toward my goal of being so.

Alright. So what about that squeaky parent in all of us?  The obnoxious plaintiff…  The parent that causes a mid-game cancellation of a five-year-old’s soccer match…  That niche inside of us all that begs to talk at people rather than allow for a rewarding two-way conversation…  Consider what the next generation of that will entail.

I’m not aiming to have this come out as a negative rant.  Instead, I think I’ve figured out the difference between the squeaking and the non-sqeaking:

Squeakers need what they want. Non-squeakers want what they need.

How do you approach a positive attitude shift when you catch yourself squeaking?

1. Make sure your brain-to-mouth filter is fully engaged.

2. Regulate your volume.

3. Zoom out and determine where your demeanor would fall on the ‘brightness’ scale if you were a fly on the wall… or a colleague, teacher, or bank teller.

These may sound cheesy, but it’s in an attempt to make us not sound like [donkeys] for all our kids to hear… and eventually emulate it whether they realize or not.

Ever catch yourself doing the “mom gasp?”  Ever push the brakes of a car… on the passenger floorboard when you’re not driving?  Obviously I have.  But, I can attest to the wonderful truth of my mom not being a squeaker.

So basically, if we’re not pleased with something, let’s try not to pollute the population around us with negative noise.  Pursue your happiness instead pleasantly and peacefully… but only if you want your kids and my kids and those-people-over-there’s kids to do the same.

When do you find it the hardest to keep your cool? What do you do about it?

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  1. I find it the hardest to keep my cool when the kids don’t listen the first time. Like after the 4th time saying, get your shoes on now! We have to LEAVE!! 🙂 I call things like these my “meek and quiet spirit robbers”. So, I’ve identified them, and have been working on one a week. So, like with the shoes….this was a real problem in our house! I decided that when I told my son to get on his shoes, I would stop what I was doing, and watch him get it done. Me standing there was a reminder of what I had said…seriously, boys forget in 1/2 a second what they’ve been told to do! And, it reinforced immediate obedience. After about 3 days, he did it very quickly, but I stuck with it for 3 more days to make it a habit. When I find myself going back to saying it more than once, we revisit this. It takes a bit of work, but seriously cuts stress out! Sorry for the novel:) We are actively working towards a peaceful home with mutual respect…this is one of our experiences!

  2. I find it the hardest to keep my cool at the end of a long day. It seems like my temper just gets the best of me, especially when I’ve been up all night with my newborn, I’m trying to wrestle my 2.5 year old in bed and my (lazy) husband lays on the couch and goes to sleep.

    I take deep breaths, sit down with my boys and read a few stories. After a couple books and a few hugs and kisses I’m usually able to calm the beast.

  3. Hi Joan! Great 1.) 2.) 3.) reminders, and the I appreciate the (dismounting soapbox in 3…2…). I guess we’re all “squeakers” from time-to-time. We don’t like to be ignored when our needs aren’t met, and this is especially true when we are still babies and young children. But then we get old enough to understand and usually realize that being annoying in our pursuit of satisfaction isn’t always the best way to proceed. Unfortunately, babies can’t follow the three reminders yet, as we all know who have been parents, but most are trainable. Meanwhile, the loving “patience of Job” is required of mature, caring parents and care providers. ZD

  4. I find it hardest to keep my cool when my children fight with one another. I always feel terrible when I SQUAK at them for this. When I stop to think about the situation later, I quickly realize that I have done to them, exactly what makes me crazy about their behavior in that moment.

    When I have my have my “cool, calm, and collected mommyness groove” on…I send them to their rooms for 10 minutes to diffuse the situation, and then we talk about it before they carry on for the day. I am trying to teach them, if you act a certain way, you choose less “fun”.

    • @Sara: I find my fuse getting short after the… 7th time I say something. It’s like you’re being deliberately disrespected. Then again, I feel better when I approach it with more wit than volume. I’m working on it. 🙂

      @LaToya: Fatigue is a huge factor. Just when you think it’s about bedtime and you’re in the clear for the day, you step on the Legos that were supposed to be put away hours ago– or you trip over a Barbie that appears to be everywhere at once. I know. I try to chug water when I feel like I’m about to lose it; I read it helps fight the tired feeling very quickly. Whether it’s true or not, it works for me as a placebo!

      @ZooDoc: Welcome! So good to see you on this side of the web. Thanks for your insight… I still have so much to learn that more seasoned experience is incredibly appreciated.

      @Shawn: My kids still like each other, but we have the occasional “HE HIT ME!!” It’s a big one, and we have come to put the perpetrator on the spot by making them vocalize how they would feel if they had been… whatever-ed by the other. When you’re getting close to boiling point, though, this approach seems pretty difficult.

  5. I find that I have a hard time keeping my cool (and turn into Shouting Mama) when we’re running late and the kids are dragging their feet. I’ve done a couple of things to try to avoid this – the first is that I try to have the things we’ll need in the morning for school/our outing/whatever ready the night before (kids pick out clothes, I have snack or lunch ready to be packed, the library books are in a bag and ready to go, etc.). I also have tried to make the management of all of our “stuff” more kid friendly – the coats are hanging on low hooks on the back of the coat closet door so that that kids can get down, put on, and eventually put away their own coats all on their own. Ditto for hats and gloves that are stored in each-kid-has-his/her-own cubby in the closet. When we still end up running late, I take a deep breath, remind myself that being late isn’t life or death, and just try to keep it in perspective. After all, I tend to run late even when I’m not taking the kids with me and they are kids – it is MY responsibility to get them out the door and if we’re running late, then I haven’t left enough time or haven’t been prepared enough to make it happen.

  6. Try to make the distinction in your kid’s actions between when they have disobeyed or have done something that is actually wrong and when it is just a mistake on their part, (i.e breaking a dish, spilling milk).
    When I actually did something that I knew to be wrong, my father was swift with butt-kick or head thump…..literally….but when I made an error in judgement, he was gentle and never chastised…..this is how your child learns that something really is wrong with their actions. If we as parents react the same to a mistake as a deliberate act, children will take advantage of this and do not grow between the ears.

  7. Yes, the “head thump” that Dad mentions… me & it go WAY back. 🙂

  8. If I were to be perfectly honest, I would say that my trigger usually has to do with my interaction with my husband. I get incredibly frustrated when I feel like he should be doing something (either for me or instead of me). I realize that my children see this and take on these characteristics. I have to remind myself that my husband is his own person, not an extension of me, and if I am able to do something myself, and don’t truely need help with it, I need to do it myself. I also find that the less I bug him about these things, the more he offers to help! I am learning the value of not squeaking right along with my children!

    Tasha’s last blog post..just a bit of information

    • @Tasha, I don’t think any of us will ever be completely silent in the realm of squeaking. Our best hope is to recognize where we most frequently go wrong & try to catch ourselves. You’re doing a better job than many. Thanks so much for your honesty.