Sometimes parenting just sucks. Everyone knows kids get moody, everyone expects kids to have tough teen years, but no one tells you that the pre-teen years will rip you to shreds as a parent.
“I’m going to run away! You’re the worst mother EVER! You treat me like a piece of crap on the bottom of your shoe! I’m taking the bus home tomorrow, don’t pick me up. Dad can still drive me because he’s nice, but you’re awful and not good to me. He doesn’t treat me like you do. I hate you.”
Yeah. This is because The Eldest lost her privilege of having a friend party for her birthday due to several factors including, but not limited to, disrespect, lying, excuse-making, refusal to do homework, handing homework in late, major back-sassing, disobedience, refusal to do anything resembling a chore, and certain other things resulting in multiple detentions due to refusal to do homework simply because I’m the one asking her to do her work.
Since she’s now in middle school the plan for her birthday was to let her choose 3 or 4 of her best girl friends from school and/or Girl Scouts and go to see Dolphin Tail with her, plus a couple of our family friends. After some discussion with The Mister, thanks to her behavior and attitude, it’s really clear that she hasn’t earned the privilege. Now she’s upset and angry because she thinks she’ll be made fun of for not having a friend party… but the real issue is that she already told her friends about it when nothing was really set in stone. She’s now threatening to make invitations anyway and hand them out to her friends this week. That’ll have a consequence all its own if it happens, but it’ll involve some embarrassing phone calls to the girls’ parents to explain things.
I’m mean. I’m horrible. I’m not giving in to her emotional manipulation and threats. She’ll get over this, and she’ll have a party next year, attitude and behavior allowing. And she’ll never, ever forget this. I’m sure someone out there thinks I’m being too strict and will say what The Eldest has said… “Every kid deserves to have a birthday party. It’s a right, not a privilege.”
But you know what? She tests me all the time. She thinks that I’m going to be soft on her just because she’s acting like a tool. If she pushes hard enough I’ll break. If she argues for long enough I’ll give in. I’ll tire out. I’ll see her point of view. I do see her point of view. I just disagree with it. She thinks threats and refusals and brattiness and disobedience and lying will be tolerated. She thinks that informing me of how things will “really” be will work. She thinks she’s in control, and what’s worse she thinks she wants to be in control. Give her an inch, she wants 100 yards. Give her a choice between two things, she thinks it’s not fair and wants to add six more things to choose from. She doesn’t want guidance and thinks she’s got the decision-making skills of an adult, and she’s only 11 years old.
Here’s the tricky part. I can be a helicopter mom. GASP! YOU SAY! No, really, I can.
I try not to but I do have my “things” that I don’t budge on. Respect is one. Not lying is another. Doing your best is huge. Obeying is non-negotiable. Safety is first, and so is raising a respectful, kind, generous, productive human and preparing her for society. Dammit, that’s hard. She’s fighting me tooth and nail. I’ve been letting her have consequences at school with the teachers when she fails. I’m doing my best to set her up for success at home and help her when it makes sense. But I’m also not doing everything in my power to keep her from failing. She has to learn. And she has to learn that it’s better to do your best and be respectful.
Yet put her in a school setting with teachers, or put her in a setting with her Girl Scout troop and she’s a perfect angel. She does almost everything she should. I must be doing something right. So why is it that at home, even thought I follow through on EVERY SINGLE CONSEQUENCE WHETHER IT’S NATURAL OR THREATENED I have this problem? What am I doing wrong? Is it the model child I have?
She can be so loving and sweet. She’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. I adore her beyond belief. I know she’s a good kid. I know she’s a GREAT kid. She loves community service and helping people. It’s just that she hates doing something if it’s me that’s asked most of the time. I adore her sense of humor, her wit, her intelligence, her drive and ambition when there’s something she does want, her love of life, her high self-esteem, her ability to make friends literally no matter where she goes, her willingness to try new things, her unfailing love of reading, insistence that she’s a tomboy even though she’s the most girly girl I know, and so much more.
I just don’t adore her resistance to being parented.