In fact, if you’re doing your job, your kids won’t like you A LOT.
This week, my son told me he hated me for the first time.
“G, you’re sweeping, your sister is mopping. So I need you to get to it, please. Quietly, quickly, and no fighting. Failure to comply will result in loss of iPad privileges. Are we clear?”
“Yes!” x 2
…30 seconds later G is picking a noisy fight with his sister….
“Bring me your iPad, please.”
“But, mommy wait, I promise, I’ll do it.”
“Thank you. Now please bring me your iPad.”
“Discussion over, young man.”
“I hate you.”
And my first thought was, “finally, progress!”
And trust me, this example is my son, but it could have easily been my daughter.
You see, it started at Thanksgiving. The kids got a week long break from school, and we took it easy on them because they needed the break. Right after that, Christmas and Christmas break. And again, we were a bit lax because it’s Christmas… and that break business. Then we had a ski break, and just in general, have been off of our routine. Give an inch. Take a mile. So, needless to say it’s the end of February, and we had some ground to make up. I knew we needed to rectify the situation when I found myself talking through my teeth all day, and despite that, got eye rolls and minimal compliance.
So, two weeks ago I started righting the ship. The routine is:
Day one they negotiated being able to play first, then do chores and homework. I let them, knowing it would fail. I needed the currency. Day one chores did not get done. Homework was forgotten until just before bedtime. Day two they tried to negotiate being able to play first then do chores, but I reminded them what happened the day before, and they stopped in their tracks, sabotaged by their own history. Day Three they asked if they had to clean their room everyday. I said, “No, not if you clean up behind yourselves.” Oh. By Day four, I didn’t even have to remind them what they needed to do. “I hate you” happened on Day 6. Relapse is an important part of any recovery. You want to know if I’m serious? I am. By the weekend, chores flew by and rooms were clean, so they got to play right away. Lightbulbs.
Kids, I’m not your friend, at least not yet. And while I love you to pieces, I find it difficult to like you when your shit is laying all over my house like you think I’m your maid. Not to mention the fact that it leads me down this mental rabbit hole where I imagine a future of your spouse bitching to his/her friends/parents about how you leave your underwear on the floor everywhere in the house because your mother babied you and didn’t teach you how to clean up after yourself. No, thank you. Your future partner might bitch about me, but it damn sure won’t be because I never made you pick up after yourself.
I may not be the best mom, but if you tell me you hate me, I know I’m doing a few things right. Most importantly, the fact that you felt safe enough to say that to me, and not run for your life, tells me you feel like you can communicate your feelings to me. Well, good.
Right after I thought, “progress!” I did briefly entertain a number of unhealthy ideas, but I didn’t act on a single one. Not even the bottle of wine. Another point for me.
Finally, you not liking me sometimes is critical to your healthy growth and development. Because I have the responsibility of guiding you, not molding you, but guiding you, into becoming a healthy independent adult. We are not equals…not yet. My experience trumps you. You’re full of confidence, energy, and great ideas. I respect that, but you’ve got some learning to do. To be great you have to know how and who to follow first. Nobody’s following an amateur spelunker into a cave (nobody who wants to be certain to come back out anyway). This is a metaphor. The cave is life, you’re the amateur.
Besides three things happen when you befriend your kids and never want to upset them or have them mad at you.
1. They don’t learn self-management skills.
2. They become manipulative a-holes.
3. They fail to launch as adults and end up lazing around on your couch eating chip crumbs off their shirt, calling you at work to tell you there’s nothing in the house to eat and “what are you making for dinner?”
No. Actually, HELL no.