Hi. My name is Kay and I’m a recovering enabler.
Day 6: Acting in my capacity as Room Police in our quest for tidiness & clutter control, I dutifully checked the kids’ rooms.
We have lots of police in our house – most of which have not been deputized but certainly are quick to write a citation for sibling misconduct… against each other. My least favorite cop is the speed police. This would by my 11-year old daughter, Safety Sue. “Mom, the speed limit is 30. You are going 35.” It doesn’t matter where she’s sitting. Somehow she can see the speedometer from the rear of the car. “Hey, leave the driving to me.” I mutter, wondering how in the world she knows I’m slightly speeding. I have actually tried to justify my minor infractions by telling her that five miles over the speed limit really doesn’t count as speeding. No need point out how ridiculous it is to, well, encourage breaking the law … especially since I spend my day trying to making them obey.
“Well, today you lost a dollar”, I tell the teenager.
“What are you talking about?”
“Your bed wasn’t made … ”
“Yes it was”
“What are you talking about. The bed was not made … and your clothes are on the floor.”
“No they weren’t.’
There you have it. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s not worth arguing. Somehow we could go upstairs and look at the unmade bed together and he would still claim that it was made. Since I have a two year old, I get to enjoy an interesting perspective on this teen approach to always needing to be right — even when 100% wrong.
At the same time the teen was matter-of-factly claiming the tidiness of his room, the toddler decided he wanted his milk in a blue cup instead of the perfectly fine green one already filled with his favorite drink. The toddler proceeded to insist on the blue cup, increasing in volume and determination to the point of writhing on the ground wailing the words, “BLUUUUE CUUUHP!!!” I uttered one, “Your milk is just fine in that cup right there”, then completely ignored him.
Basically I was the meat in a tantrum sandwich. Stereo action. A 2-year old in one ear, a teen in the other. (Calgon, TAKE ME AWAY!!) … Ignoring them both, I rolled my eyes to myself and settled in, waiting for the self-fest to end. Once they both realized that I wasn’t giving in, the stubbornness subsided. The toddler reached for the blue cup and the teen admitted the truth – not that he was wrong, just that the bed wasn’t made. In the spirit of Shakespeare’s Juliet’s musing (although not a rose) – a tantrum is a tantrum by any other name … no matter the age.
Jon’s reaction when I was laughing about my epiphany later that day: “Well I hope you took the dollar.”
Truth be told… when I saw the bed unmade, I had to fight the urge to make it. “He just forgot”, “He has such a good heart”, “I’m sure he meant to make it; he has a lot on his mind.” I had to fight the urge to let it go. But, there was no way around it. The covers and pillows clearly lay right where had wriggled out of them that morning. Still I searched for a way to allow his bed to pass inspection … give him grace … just this once. As I turned from the bed to check the bathroom, I saw his clothes neatly piled in a corner by the window – on the floor.
I forced myself to take the dollar.
Obviously, I need accountability. I’m weak. My gut reaction? To enable. But I’ve taken a stand! I’m sticking to my guns. It may not be a perfect run. But one day at a time. One foot in front of the other. … Entitlement’s days are numbered in this house. Apathy has been shown the door. (Yikes! I’m scared.)
Thanks for walking the road with me.