Parenting. *sigh*. I’ve had some highlights and some blooper reel moments for sure. There are things I am proud of and things I wish I could do over differently because I really didn’t make the right choices and let myself down. However, what I am proud of is that I did do something, I stayed in the game, kept plugging through and never quit. One of those almost-blooper reel moments meant that one day I slept with a bag of oranges. Yeah, that was me. Cuddling a net of oranges to win an argument.
A few years ago, the child, Missy (not her real name), had been disobedient to regular “could you pick your shoes up and take out your plate please” requests. Open and rude defiance. It escalated. Ok, I am not asking now Missy. Pick up your shoes. Take out your plate. I am not your maid. You know how this works. “Get lost, I ain’t doing it” et al. *sigh*. If you don’t do these things, the WiFi is going off for the evening. “You won’t cos you need it too”. Click. Off went the WiFi. Then it escalated to a verbal altercation, Missy telling me all my faults, telling me all my weaknesses and how I am a rubbish parent and pretty ugly and pathetic. So, I sent this 5′ 10″ child to bed, like a toddler. She stomped off. I settled down for the night with a book because, duh, no facebook since I switched off the router.
Half an hour later I hear footsteps on the stairs, then I see Missy walk past, and go to the kitchen and make herself a fruit salad! I reiterate that she’s been sent to bed with no dessert and she better march herself off pronto. This unleashed the dogs of war. Apparently I was denying her human rights to fruit salad and what kind of mother did that make me? It was unpleasant and lasted for another two hours but the kid went to bed in the end without fruit salad.
So that “I won” and nobody could sneak down in the night for a vitamin C fix, I slept with the oranges under my pillow and my hand entwined in the net all night. Sometimes you have to take a stand and make it so that No Means No. Nobody acquired rickets in the making of this discipline, nobody was denied a glass of water, nobody became homeless, but I sure as God made little green apples was going to have control over who ate the oranges!
The next day I took the oranges to work. I cut the oranges like at half time in football matches and offered them out to my colleagues, the oranges were consumed away from home and those particular 6 oranges never made it back to the homestead. I did what it took to instil consequences and discipline in the moment.
Since that time, Missy has had a respect that if I ask for something to be done, she can say yes or no, that is her prerogative. If she is being unreasonable or rude, there are consequences which are non invasive, such as the wifi going off. And if I say go to bed, that is not code for chop some fresh fruit and veg.
The child made her feelings known. Nobody got hurt, apart from the oranges. And since that day we have never had to have a second battle of wits. It was horrid but it worked. And my colleagues looked better for having a little dose of goodness the next morning.
I am still unclear whether this makes the “things to be proud of” or the “blooper reel” but it got the job done, the only thing hurt was feelings, the mother felt silly snoozing next to the things which should have been in the fridge, but it worked for us. There was no way to know in the moment if this was a disagreement we would have lots of times, over and over, but with a desired outcome in mind, and clear definition of who was the keeper of the gate to privileges, things settled down faster and we have had a happier home since then…. knock on wood.