Eirinn has this thing she wants to do. This thing will require me driving her places and taking time out of my evening and Avery will be jealous. It’s a privilege, is what it is, and in order to deserve these privileges, kids should behave in a certain way. Listen to their parents, be nice to their siblings, tidy their messes. NOT melt into a pile of raging jellyfish at the mere suggestion she pick up the Barbie carpet that they worked two days on laying in the playroom. NOT morph into a 15-year old ‘tude monster when I ask her the simplest of questions. NOT rain down fists of fury when her sister touches something she may have thought about wanting to look at possibly in the near and/or distant future, maybe. Kids who behave like THAT don’t get privileges like participating in a Bring Your Friend To Dance Class that she got invited to by her BFF.
Last night, she brought the trifecta of rotten kid behaviour. I asked her and Avery to tidy the playroom before dinner; she got snotty. I told her to tidy up or I’ll confiscate the toys; she melted onto the floor in a pile of tears. I told her to get up and put away the Barbies I’m VERY SERIOUS, YOUNG LADY, DON’T TEST ME; she huffed, but made a motion towards the mess, so I left to continue with chores. Then, from the rumour mill of little girl shrieks and screams, tidying had turned into warfare, so I sent Eirinn to her room while Avery continued to clean; Eirinn started to yell. That’s when I told her she couldn’t go. That’s when I became the Meanest Mom EVER.
But…I’m only MOSTLY the Meanest Mom Ever. She has the weekend to smarten up. If she does, I will change my mind. I’m really rooting for her, but I’m nervous I’ll have to follow through. Threats are one thing, but I’ll feel pretty crappy if she can’t get her shit together. I called her BFF’s mom to let her know the whole story – that as far as Eirinn knows, she’s not going, but that I’ll change my mind if her behaviour improves. I felt like a tool telling her this over the phone, but she assured me that she does the same thing. I guess we’re all mean when we need to be.
I feel like I age by years on nights like last night. Elevated blood pressure, pounding headache, deeply furrowed brow. Parenting is physically taxing. It’s a battle between kids and parents and their weapon is psychological. Good luck to you, if you’re coming to the war ill-equipped.
I’ve found, after nights like these, that I’m really good at lecturing. I’m sure my younger sister and brother would readily concur, but until last night, I didn’t realize how good I am. I mean, I’m sure Eirinn didn’t listen to a word I said, and if she did, I’m sure none of it stuck, but afterwards I though, damn, that was good. To conduct a good lecture on a six-year-old, you start hard – reprimand her for what she’s done, remind her who’s boss, and let her know that you’re very disappointed in her behaviour - then you teach your lessons. Last night’s lesson was Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You Or Else You’re Not Going To Dance Class And That’s Final(ish). And when you can see she’s starting to get it, or at least putting on her Starting To Get It face, you wrap it up with some positivity. Tell her you believe she’s capable of better. Explain what about her you love. Give and receive some healing and apologetic hugs and kisses. That’s how you own a lecture.
But then she woke up in a sour mood, so I know it didn’t sink in. It was only half a win, but whatever. Close enough. I’m sure she’s at school today telling her friends how mean I am because I actually call her on her BS. Maybe one day she’ll see that I’m not being mean, I’m just trying my best to make sure she doesn’t grow up to be an asshole. That’s all any of us is trying to do, I think.