I hate when I make a Mom Decision that makes my life harder. You know, like the time you said, “if you do that again, we’re leaving,” and they did it again, so you had to leave.
When our two were much smaller, probably 2 and 4 years old, they were fighting, as siblings do from time to time. It was the sort of back and forth that will send any parent into psychosis. We were going to Pendleton King Park for a picnic and to play on the playground. They picked at each other the whole way there. He would touch her. She would scream. He would laugh. She would scream. I’m sure she hit him, too. After reasoning with them as best I could, I told them they had to quit, or we would not have a picnic. She may not have understood, but he did, and he didn’t quit. I was sad, too, because I wanted to eat our picnic. I wanted to push them in the swings and enjoy a little fresh air. I wanted to go to the park. We left the park.
For those who worry about such things, the following story is being told with The Boy’s permission. Details which might cause teenagery embarrassment have been omitted to protect the guilty.
His birthday was last week. He turned 14 (14!). He asked for the kind of watch that pairs with his phone. You know the kind. The expensive kind that’s named after a fruit. For some of you, it might not be a big deal to spend that kind of money on your kids for their birthdays, but we have always stuck to the same dollar amount for birthdays. This is due in part to the fact that Christmas just passed, and we are trying to not raise spoiled idiots.
He paid for a good portion of the watch with money he’d been saving. We covered the rest, as his big birthday gift.
A couple of days before the big day, his birthday, and the day we were to buy the watch, he got in trouble. I won’t tell you what he did, because it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he did something he’s done before, and the consequence is having his phone taken away.
If you know anything about the watches, you know you can’t do anything with them unless you have a phone. Well, he didn’t have a phone.
We bought the watch, as we’d planned, because I’m not a total jerk. It was his birthday, after all. It was a little sad, but I stuck to my guns. His watch remained dark for several days, until this punishment period was up. I almost caved a couple of times, thinking, “come on, Jenny. It’s his birthday. Give him his phone back.” The devil on my shoulder.
I found myself giving me pep talks through moments like these. “It’s for their own good,” I say. I believe myself, but it’s not always easy. I want to make my kids happy. I also want them to be rule-abiding, respectful and kind.
Don’t get wrong. I’m not afraid to admit my enjoyment in the power of parenting. My word is the final word. They can’t argue with me. They try, but they won’t win. If I say wash the dishes or mop the floor, they have to do it. It’s like prison, but with fancy watches and private bathrooms.
At the end of his sentence, he paired his watch and all was well. If you don’t know what I mean by “paired,” imagine using a universal remote and having to sync it with your specific TV. It’s kind like that, but way more complicated.
Parenting isn’t simple, either. We do our best and hope the kids don’t go to prison.