Yesterday started as any other day: my daughter was the first one up (a morning person, unlike her mother) and was getting herself ready for summer dance camp. Soon after that my son (total “mama’s boy”) climbed into my bed to get some all-too-short snuggle time before breakfast. My caffeine-in-a-cup hadn’t even performed its full job before I heard these words from my daughter: “You’re so mean! You’re not like other moms.”
If the second part of that wasn’t yelled or preceded by an attack on my kindness, I would take this as a compliment. No, I’m not “like other moms.” And why not? From my daughter’s point of view: because I won’t let her chat on Minecraft and won’t let her have a cell phone.
I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Oh my gosh. I’d better call child protective services. This is borderline abuse.” It’s so ridiculous that I would worry about her chatting with strangers online. She’s a big girl and can handle any situation. And how absurd that I won’t let her have a cell phone. After all, she makes a decent living and needs to be reachable by her clients. Oh wait, that’s right. She’s only EIGHT YEARS OLD.
Kids say dumb things sometimes, and I try to remind myself that I was plenty full of stupidity as a typical self-absorbed child. I can remember slamming my door and yelling, “that’s not fair!” to my parents, but as a mom myself I am overwhelmed with anger after hearing these types of words for the umpteen-millionth time.
It’s my fault, really. My kids are so spoiled that they have no sense of what “fair” is. I know adults who’ve never left the country or have never been to Disney World. My daughter just took her SIXTH trip to Orlando and has been to multiple countries including Germany, Italy, England, and Ireland. (Granted, because I work in the travel industry vacations have become a great bonus.)
Something wasn’t clicking. She wasn’t GETTING it. She was coming down with “Veruca Salt Syndrome.” I decided I needed to take a different approach to the situation instead of my normal punishments of grounding, no screen time, and sending her to her room. Born was a literary masterpiece called “Ways My Mom is Mean:” a list of 67 [sarcastic] ways I’ve mistreated my daughter. (Mistreatments like taking her on vacations, volunteering at her school, kissing and hugging her and telling her “I love you” all the time, cooking dinner, etc. You get the idea.)
BRILLIANT! It worked . . . for now. I carefully laid the three-page work of parenting genius on her bed and waited anxiously for her to get home from dance camp. She gets home and heads up to her room. Silence. I’m almost smiling because I’m so excited to find out her reaction. Her door creaks open and I hear sniffles, then the sound of her feet slowly coming down the stairs. I look into her tear-filled eyes and she can barely get the words out through her sobs: “I’m so sorry, Mommy! Please forgive me!” I hugged her and asked if she understood the point of the list and she explained how blessed she is and how ungrateful she has been.
PRAISE GOD the light turned on! (By the way . . . she still gets the other punishments of grounding and no screen time until further notice.)
Today was a much better day, and I hope tomorrow will be, too. There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be lots more silly arguments and I’ll be accused of being a “mean mom” countless more times. Frankly I’m okay with that, because sometimes being a real “Supermom” is being something other than our kids’ versions of “super.”
I hope my daughter will keep this list on her desk and re-read it whenever she thinks her life isn’t fair. If she doesn’t, I have it saved and ready to re-print.
Lord help me get through this girl’s teenage years, and please let my son stay that sweet little mama’s boy forever! This parenting gig is not always easy, but it’s by far the best job I’ve ever had.
Coming soon to my blog: how I plan to spoil my children less.