There’s a new look on my kids’ faces lately. Well, I guess I’ve seen it before, but it’s been a really long time. You know that look your toddlers give you when you tell them no candy for breakfast? The same look when you take away their favorite toy because they haven’t been sharing, or tell them they have to take a bath, or that it’s nap time? It’s that look of stunned disappointment, the look that tells you that in that moment, you are the biggest meanie in the world. That’s happening.
I spend my afternoons and evenings hounding Big Man on all the work he needs to do to dig out of the hole he put himself in. It really isn’t fun. I’ll give him credit – he has hunkered (isn’t hunkered a great word?) down and has spent hours actually doing homework. Trust me when I feel horrible for sending back to the grindstone each time he groundhogs. I’m not an evil taskmaster – he does get breaks, and I try to reward what I know is difficult, sometimes tedious work. I get he’s overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed too. When I look at the mountain of work that needs to be done, I hear myself sighing. But this is a life lesson I’d much rather he learn now, rather than later when I’m not around to keep pushing him to finish. So I’m the meanie taking his phone away when he gets home from school. I’m the meanie who keeps checking his grades and making lists of all he needs to do. I’m the meanie making him pull his planner out every afternoon and show me he’s written his current homework down, and then that he actually does said homework. Yes, I’m THAT meanie.
It doesn’t end with Big Man. Teenagers will push that fine line, trying to find your boundaries and what will happen when they try to cross those lines. I’m sure they’d prefer I were more a friend than a parent, but that’s not my job. My job is to parent them through to responsible, accountable, decent human-being-type adults. So yes, I’m going to call you out when you’re wearing something I don’t find acceptable. I’m going to take your cell phone at night, and check your texts, Insta, Snapchat, and all the little hidden messages in each of those. I’m going to make you go to bed at a decent hour. I’m going to get ticked off when you roll your eyeballs. I’m going to insist you respect your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, and every other adult in your world. I’m going to remind you that no, you don’t know everything, and yes, I do know quite a lot about how life works. I’m that meanie
I’m going to show you every day how much I love you, and care about who you are as well as who you are becoming by being that meanie. Trust me, I don’t love it. It’s hard, and I don’t love seeing that look on your faces. But this is my job, and darn it, I’m going to be as good at it as I can.