It was one of those mornings. You mom's know what I'm talking about, it was one of those mornings.
It all started with a banana.
I made breakfast for the kids, putting two waffles and a banana on each child's plate. As I went to hand the Girl Child her plate, she said to me in the snarkiest voice I have ever heard come out of her, "I don't want that banana."
"Ok" I said as I picked it up, turned around, and dropped it in the trashcan.
If she had been allowed to say "what the fuck!" I'm pretty sure that's exactly what she would have said because her jaw hit the floor like I've never seen before.
"Mom! Why did you do that!"
"You said you didn't want that banana. Problem solved."
"Well are you going to give me another one?" she said.
"Nope, I already made breakfast. You didn't want it, that's your problem, not mine."
"Mom!! I wanted the banana! I didn't want the part that was smashed at the end! You should have cut it off for me!" she snarked back.
"Well, you didn't say you wanted anything cut off of it, you said 'I don't want that banana.' You need to watch your tone with me and listen carefully to what you say because now you have no banana at all. Furthermore, you are fully capable of taking the end off your own banana."
"WELL THEN I'M NOT EATING" she proclaimed sternly.
"Ok. You are old enough to know that you will be hungry. I'm going to take a shower and if you don't want to eat, don't eat, but just think about how hungry you will be at school."
Well let me tell you, 1st grade is bringing out a whole new side of
"Ok," I sighed. "Well that was your choice but you need to put it in the fridge because I'm not making another meal for dinner when I already made you one for breakfast that you didn't eat."
She got up, put it in the fridge, and we got in the car.
"Girl child, do you have your homework?"
"No" she answered flatly.
"Well I told you three times last night to put it in your book bag, where is it?"
"I don't know mom. Can you go find it?"
"No, sorry I can't, you need to get to school and I have to get to work."
She burst into tears.
"My teacher will be mad! Why didn't you put it in my bag! I'm going to get a punishment at school!" she yelled at me from the back seat of the car.
"Yea, you might. That's what happens when you don't do what you are supposed to do. I helped you with your homework, I reminded you three times to put it away, you didn't listen, and now you are suffering the consequences of failing to follow directions. I'm sorry you are upset, but this is how life works."
I felt bad, I really did, but I am a big fan of self directed parenting. As long as it isn't a safety issue I simply equip them with everything they need to making smart choices and then I let them see for themselves what the outcomes of their choices are.
Sorry kid, you failed this lesson and now you are going to have to learn the hard way.
She was in tears when by the time I dropped her off at school. As she climbed out of the car I slipped a little note into her hand that said "I love you."
I thought about her all day; my mothering worry creeping into my thoughts several times an hour. "Was she hungry? Did I pack her a big enough lunch since she didn't eat breakfast? Will her teacher be really hard on her?"
When the bell rang that afternoon she came bounding out of the school with a big smile plastered across her face.
"Thanks for the note mommy, I love you too" she said as she threw her arms around me.
"How was your day"? I asked, hesitant but dying to know.
"Well, my teacher told me that it's my responsibility to bring my homework in and that it didn't just walk away so I need to keep track of my things. I think from now on when I'm finished I should put it right in my bag before I play, because it was not good that I actually did it and didn't even get to turn it in."
That night as I was making dinner, she walked in the kitchen, didn't say a word, took her now cold waffles out of the fridge, microwaved them, and sat down at the table. I didn't say a word; just served the boy child and myself. About halfway through the meal she said "I'm sorry that I told you I didn't want that banana. It would hurt my feelings if I gave you a snack and you said you didn't want it. I didn't even mean that I didn't want it, I just didn't want the smashed part, but at least you saved money on making me dinner!!"
Ha, well, I was going more for the point of "you need to be careful that you say what you mean," but hey, she is only six so I'll take it.
This kid man, she is wearing me out! She only accounts for 50% of the kids that I'm raising and I'm already feeling spent these days.
So many more years to go, I'LL NEVER MAKE IT.
Kids; Don't want to live without them, but it sure can be strange living with them.
I used to watch my ex make one bad decision after another, his life falling apart as he blamed everyone in his path for the problem's he was creating. I would watch him and think "my gosh, didn't your mother ever teach you anything?"
He had no sense of responsibility. He just assumed that he could do whatever he wanted and that the people around him would fix the fallout for him. When he walked away from our family and never looked back it was simply his evil culmination of a lifetime of not having any sense of responsibility.
That is exactly why I parent the way that I do.
I'm sorry kids, not everyone gets a trophy, they just don't. You are good at some things, not so much at others, but the reality of the situation is that you are more likely to gain a positive outcome when you put in the effort. If you choose not too, well then the result and it's consequences are yours and yours alone.
In reality though, adults are just like kids. Most think they know better, are stubborn to the core, and we don't always say what we mean. I find that in raising kids, I'm also raising myself and the way that I deal with the people around me.
I want to help people, it's in my nature (and my job), but there comes a point when helping becomes enabling and when you enable someone you are really just failing them in a compassionately minded way.
As I've been raising my kids I've been forced to reevaluate the way that I deal with people and it really has been hard. I want to help everyone fix their problems and help make them feel better, yet I've come to realize that for a few people, I've really just been failing them.
I'm starting to pull back a little now; I'm handing the reigns of life back over to a few of the women I've been helping. I'm no longer jumping in to help a friend who repeatedly lands herself in the same situation and it's hard. It hurts me to see them falling apart, but what I've come to realize is that my compassion has been enabling them to continue to not take responsibility for their actions.
I've been helping them fail.
Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way saying not to help a friend going through a rough time or a family member in crisis, I'm talking about the people in your lives that consistently make decisions that are harmful to the outcome they desire. (I'm not even talking about people in life threatening situations)
Sometimes the best thing that you can do for someone is to let them fail.
We talk so much on here about living your own life, walking your own path, being your own person, but we rarely talk about it in reverse.
You can't want someones life for them more than they want it for themselves. You can't drag them to a destination that they aren't willing to get to on their own. They will surely wander away and won't be able to find their way back, seeing as how they have no idea how they got there!
As I always say, there is no person more important in this world than the one that you were supposed to be. No one can determine the best version of you, except for you.
Allow others the same courtesy.
It's their walk, not yours.
Sometimes the best thing that you can do for someone else is to let them learn the hard way.
Sometimes the best thing that you can do for yourself is to be ok in letting them do that.