Loading the dishwasher. Folding clothes. Helping a sibling. All of these things are normal chore requests for the Fifth Grader. I think that these things should be done without complaint, however they are almost always attached with a side of attitude. Really?!
She’s only eleven. This is what I keep reminding myself when I’m trying to decide on a fitting punishment for the smartest 5th grader on this side of Hwy 288. My issue with the eleven-year-old has layers to it. She bring such depth to the situation; she is brilliant, creative, thoughtful, and respectful, but when that attitude shows up, I really have to wonder, “did I do this?” I know that moms of preteens will understand me and come to my defense when I say this, “WHO’S CHILD IS THIS?!”
Exhibit A – Not asking permission. On Monday, “Eleven” was busted for taking DVDs to school without asking for permission. Bad news (for her) is that I wasn’t in the mood for a disobedient child. Good news is that Jesus came and rescued her. The consequence for this action is a clear backpack next school year. Is it harsh? Nope because I can see into the future. I can predict that this will not be the only thing that she will try to sneak out (or in) to the house. I want to skip the lies about extra clothes, makeup, and a missing cell phone.
Exhibit B – Doing what she wants to do instead of what I asked her to do. On Monday night, I asked “Eleven” to go check the mailbox. She said, “ok,” but then proceeded to go to her room, grab her dirty clothes hamper, load the washing machine, and THEN come get the keys. While I was waiting, I sent the First Grader to go to the mailbox. “Eleven’s” response was, “but I said I would go do it.” Correct. You did. However, what was the logic behind doing what you wanted to do first versus my request?
Exhibit C – On Tuesday, I asked Miss Double Digits to fix her brother some oatmeal. Again, this is not an unusual request, and most days she does it without me asking. Her response: Let me put some apple juice in the refrigerator. Seriously?! Did she just ignore me?
Time to activate the ninja.
As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, here are a few words of encouragement for my fellow moms so that you don’t choke your kids out before you even read your Mother’s Day cards:
- Stand Your Ground! Don’t be swayed by the plethora of tears once you lay down the law. Tears only mean you need protective rain gear or a floatation device. If for no other reason than this “holiday”, you should be planted firmly like a tree. And that cute face means NOTHING. As the Hubs likes to say, God doesn’t like ugly and He ain’t too fond of cute neither. (Ha!)
- Follow Through On Your Promises! Whatever consequences you have set forth, make sure that your kids know that they aren’t threats; they are promises. Some days there is room for you to negotiate the punishment, but TODAY or this weekend is NOT the time for that. Owe it to yourself to be done with their foolishness, and move forward to the future. Ground them now, so they can be grounded adults later. Some of y’all will get that on the way home driving down Hwy 59.
- Be Prepared To Double Down! My crafty and creative mommas know EXACTLY where I am going with this one. If Miss Double Digits decides to press her luck, I am fully ready to take it up a notch on the clear backpacks. We can bedazzle it or put her name in lights. We can buy one for each day of the week. This is an easy way to reinforce that she never do this again.
I don’t subscribe to the foolishness that the first born child might bring. I know what she’s thinking before she thinks it. Everything she tries, I tried it first. But one thing she won’t try is me. Being a parent is hard and it requires you to make tough choices, but I would much rather make the choice now because later might not be an option. As a good friend of mine once said, “it is easier to build solid children than try and repair broken adults.”