Today I witnessed something that made me feel sad, confused, and, in a way, angry. All at once. That's a lot of feelings to roll up into a ball and toss
anyone's way, but I had to take a moment to get it out of my head. I hope you don't mind.
I suppose I should start by setting a background to our parenting style. You see, I was raised with the belief that respect is something that is earned, not a given right. If I wanted my parents to respect me, I needed to first and foremost show respect to them. And not just because I wanted to be respected, mind you, but because...(are you ready for this?) they were the parents. How do you like that one, huh?
Cardinal rule number one in our house is firm: Children will respect and obey the parents.
Does this mean we dominate our kids and treat them like chattel? Of course not. We love them dearly and want them to feel secure in these truths: Mom and Dad are there for them. Will protect them. Care for them. Provide for them. Will listen to them about anything they need to say. Will love them unconditionally. Always. Part of instilling that sense of safety is by setting rules and letting them know that however much they want to, they do not rule our roost. That's our job. It's a big job, but it's one we signed on for. Let us take the reins on this one, sweetums. We've got it.
Okay, so back to today.
I was waiting for the girls to finish up a dance class and had the opportunity to watch a mother and her son, who appeared to be about the same age as the girls, perhaps a bit older. He was playing a video game while sitting in a chair.
The office was getting crowded, so his mom asked him to move to a smaller, Kid-Appropriate chair to make room from some of the other adults. He ignored her.
She asked again. He threw an angry look that included his eyes and his upper body, physically grinding himself into the chair in defiance. His eyes screamed, Make Me.
She gave up. Stopped asking him.
Adults shuffled in around all of us, the room was crowded. Everyone was just standing.
She made one more attempt to have this kiddo move to the children's area. "Please move to that blue chair."
He looked up with effort from his game. Met her eyes with his. "Blah-blah-blah-blah. Stop talking to me. Can't you see I'm concentrating?"
His tone smacked me in the face, and I have no idea who he is and doubt I'll have to deal with him again. But what about his mom?
She just smiled at the curious strangers around us. Perhaps to say, "Oh yes, this happens all of the time. It's normal you see. He never listens to me."
Every part of me was itching with sheer irritation. Why didn't she do something? This kid has been given the freedom to set his own limits, move back the boundaries, live in his own world. Now would be the perfect time to pull out some Love & Logic and turn this bad choice into a learning moment.
Instead, she pulled out her phone and proceeded to peruse the Internet. Content to wait. Meanwhile, Lil' Mr. Sassy pants played on, game volume turned to High. Now, my girls travel with their video games when I know we'll be waiting for awhile, so I am all for the simplicity of letting technology keep an otherwise bored kid out of your hair. For us though, when they are playing the games in public, the sound is off on them. No questions asked. The girls are good at this now, turning the volume off before the game even starts up.
Mom was getting annoyed at the dinky-tink-tink-waaa litany coming from the device and asked him to turn the volume down. He ignored her. Played on. She asked again. He threw The Look and squared off his shoulders. (I have seen that stance on many a student. He was prepped for battle, this one). She shrugged her shoulders and sat back against her seat. Back to the Internet again. Defeated.
Honestly, the whole thing made me sad. How tiring her days must be, forever struggling with him over small things like these. How draining. How long those 24 must seem, when one hour to the next is a new battle. An ongoing war.
I'm not judging here, either. I am not. My girls have their days, and I'm sure some people have looked at me and thought, "What is up with that lady?" I do not judge.
Truthfully, the entire scene made me incredibly thankful. Thankful for so many things. I'm thankful that my parents raised me with the beliefs that they did, and that their parenting style was one that made me see the importance of respect. I'm thankful that even when it was hard, and when Dan and I were sleep exhausted and consumed with the need for a laissez-faire attitude, we still persevered with a discipline. Still pushed on with another time out, another "Bummer, this is so sad...." I don't have these constant struggles with my girls. I have struggles, sure, but...not constantly. Not non-stop.
After dance class, I felt the very strong need to hug them.
"You two are pretty good kids, aren't you?" I asked them on the car ride home.
"We are, Mommy. You're pretty good too, you know."
"Hey thanks, loves. Do you know I love you?"
"Of course, Mother!" Caedance laughed.
Ashlyn added, "We love are-chother."
"We sure do, sprite."
We sure do.