816 North

Susan Vollenweider: Why I never ...

He looked about 2, maybe 3. His exact age was uncertain, but his behavior was clear: He was throwing a serious knock-down, drag-out tantrum in church.

“NO!” he screamed. “Noooooo!”

His mom brought him into her lap and whispered in his ear but he was having none of it. “Nooooo!” Dad took him and tried the same while Mom leaned over and dug around in a diaper bag, reached toward Mr. NO! and popped a pacifier in his mouth.


I was aghast.

I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “A pacifier at that age? I’m never going to let that happen. By 1 they are done. It’s called PARENTING, not Bandaiding.”

First kid never took the pacifier but it wasn’t because I didn’t offer it; she didn’t like it.

My second never used it. He didn’t like it, either.

And my third child? He loved it. It was his Bobo. How could I separate him from his beloved and effective silencing charm, Bobo? First birthday, second birthday, third birthday …. I finally had a talk with him and we compromised: He could only have it when he napped. Then he stopped napping.

He was three and a half when I put his last two Bobos in a decorative box. Those first couple nights were rough; I almost caved but instead broke another one of my Nevers and held him until he fell asleep.

You never know, so never say never.

So many Never Say Never parenting moments over the years, you would think I would have learned, but no.

Never going to stop working.

Never going to feed from a bottle.

Never going to yell.

Never going to spank.

Never going to cuss; never going to say, “Shut up.”

Never, never, never turned into try, try, try. Some worked well, some failed miserably, but in the midst of a parenting maelstrom when nothing I knew worked, I was willing to try anything.

Spanking? Not effective and I felt horrible about it. “Shut up”? I cringe remembering the many times I have said it. But cussing? Yelling? Embarrassing to admit, but effective at telling them I’m at Momcon Level Two.

Some Nevers even morphed in my favor to completely change my opinion: Never going to let them have video games led to, Never going to let them play video games for more than 30 minutes which led to, “Taking away the video games or their cords is a lovely punishment.”

And teenagers? That is a whole other pile of discarded Nevers.

Never going to ease up rules.

Never going to tolerate smartassery.

Never going to give in to arguments.

Never going to let them stay out later than their curfew.

Never going to let them have computers in their rooms.

Never going to give up family dinners.

If you have teens, had teens or remember being a teen you can laugh at me now.

Sometimes it takes several repetitions for life lessons to get from concept to function. I have quite a few heart scars from all the times that life has tried to teach me When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them.

You Can’t Please Everyone? I was in my 40s before that one truly sunk in.

While I have had to live-learn it over and over again, I think Never Say Never may have finally stuck.

“I am never going to treat my kids like this!” One of my recently punished children shouted while stomping to their room.

If you have kids, had kids or remember being a kid, you know what I said.

“Never say never.”

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.