You may stand as judge and jury as I present my punishment for her latest transgressions.
The Girl’s room now contains:
- A bed with sheets and one blanket
- Five outfits that I randomly grabbed what I thought might possibly be clean clothes off of her floor
- One pair of pajamas
- Two pairs of shoes
- One jacket
- A comb and a brush (but no bowl full of mush)
- School backpack
- Borrowed flute
The balance of her room is locked in her closet or has been moved into my almost organized office. While I cannot list all the items, a select listing includes (all counts are approximate):
- 532,943 items of clothing in a clean (?) laundry basket
- 321 items of clothing in a dirty (?) laundry basket
- 85 stuffed animals
- 123 books
- 17 pairs of shoes
- 6,287 hair “thingies”
- 6,287 random pieces of crap (at least I don’t think they are more hair “thingies”
Now T thinks I’m being generous by actually giving her more than one outfit. She also thinks I should scoop out one large spoonful of rice for breakfast and dinner and tell her that’s it for the day. (Note to T’s kids–you better listen to your mom. She’s tough. And if she too tough, you just come to me and Aunt Holly and we’ll make it all better.) T said I should make The Girl wash the same outfit and wear it to school everyday. I just can’t have my washer running any more than it already is, so I thought I would give her enough clothes to almost make it through a week. When I told The Girl she was only getting 5 outfits, she asked if she was allowed to pick them out and I said, no, that Daddy was. I think that scared her a little. But in the end I randomly grabbed some things that I knew fit and didn’t necessarily match. Dear Husband would have left her with some swim goggles, ski boots and a ballerina outfit. And somehow she would have found a way to make it work.
Can you teach empathy? Can you teach generosity? Can you teach kindness?
I don’t think so. I think you can demonstrate them and hope that you will be emulated by your children (or those around you, Mr. Meanie who refused to smile at The Baby.) I thought I was demonstrating these traits–I honestly did. The Baby seems to get it. If she is eating a goldfish (which she pretty much is doing all the time) and you lean over and say, “Yummy!” She will dig her fat little fingers deep into her mouth and pull out the gooiest goldfish in there and say, “Gee go.” [translation: Here you go.] Uhmmm, No thanks.
Just the other day we were at IKEA running around and The Baby just HAD to be on a sofa next to some women who were measuring some furniture piece–a SLARDG or IKDADO or something. She walked right up to them, tapped one on the knee and said, “Scuz Zee,” and proceeded to push past them as they oo’d and ah’d. I mean, how could they not?
She also knows “Ga Goo” [thank you] and “orry” [sorry] as well as “clean up” [obviously no translation is needed there, though my husband wonders where she learned that phrase–WTF?]
So how did my older two children miss these valuable lessons? Did they just forget–I mean, they do both claim to “forget” to brush their teeth and “forget” their lunch/homework/musical instrument/sneakers at least once a week. And I won’t drive the “forgotten” items to school, either–another reason I am the worst mother in the world.
The Boy has now somehow learned that body noises are a way to communicate with his parents. If I ask him to do something (like, OMG a chore) he very often responds with some noise coming out of one end or another. I knew it was going to get harder to communicated with tweens, but I didn’t think it would SMELL so bad!
But somewhere along the line, The Girl forgot the lessons my husband and I have tried to demonstrate when it comes to empathy, charity and doing for others. She is also under the impression that I am somehow nicer than God–that if she asks me for something, the answer should automatically be yes. Any answer other than yes is met with a sneer, eye roll, hair toss and an exasperated, “fine” that implies I am taking the last piece of bread from her mouth. I don’t know WHERE this attitude has come from–maybe too many iCarly episodes or something. But it must be ended with swift and brutal retraining.
So, what are her transgressions, you ask. Why have I resorted to making her live in an empty room?
We already spoke about the whole, “if I ask–even meanly–you are required to give me what I ask for or I get to throw a tantrum” syndrome, but additional requests have included:
“I want my brother’s PDA.”
Seriously. The Boy has my old PDA from back in the days before I was a recovering Type A (and recovering quite nicely thank you). Yes, there was a day when I wore multiple watches, plus a PDA, plus a cellphone but I’m taking medication for it now. So, I gave The Boy my PDA. He pretty much either plays Minesweeper (Hi, my name is Rebecca. Its been 1,342 days since I’ve played Minesweeper”), or makes lists of aliens he’s going to find/build/recruit. Lest you think we are even more terrible horrible parents mother, than we are, The Girl is not without gadgets. She is, in fact, the owner of Dear Husband’s old iPod. You know, those big old fat ones that couldn’t play videos, movies, or show pictures. “Seriously, Dad, it’s like totally a dinosaur.” They now sell for $50 on eBay. One of those. And she thinks she should also have her brother’s PDA.
“I don’t see why I should have to clean that up.”
This was uttered after I questioned why the bathroom floor was covered with water. Apparently she needed to wet her hair with a brush and as a result, splashed water all over the floor. This also came after she yelled at her father and brother, telling them they were gross boys and couldn’t use her bathroom anymore because they didn’t keep it clean. And for the record (no doubt proving I am the worst mother in the world) SHE DOESN’T HAVE A BATHROOM THAT IS ‘HERS.’ Dear Husband and I have repeatedly pointed out that her name is neither on the Title of the house or the mortgage and until it is, she lives her at our pleasure.
“You don’t need to check my homework anymore. I’m in 4th grade and need to learn to be responsible for my own work.”
You even wanna guess where this one is going? This is in response to her asking if she could come with me to praise band practice and I said, “Yes, if you finish your homework.” See–I’m practicing saying yes! When it was getting close to leaving, I asked if her homework was finished and got the above response. After several “convincing” pleas that her homework was in fact done, and correct, and didn’t need to be reviewed by me, it was established by the Prosecution (me), that she hadn’t ever done her homework. Duh.
“Why on Earth would I want to do that?”
This is actually, the saddest comment and the one that broke my heart. The one that truly earned me the title of “Worst Mother in the World.” Granny and Grandpa (aka The COOLEST people in the world) found Grandma’s suitcase full of money. Now before you get all excited and claim to be a relative of mine, let it be said, it was filled with pennies and nickels, and some foreign stuff from countries that don’t exist anymore. And Grandma, being Grandma, had labeled all these bags of pennies with dates and locations and “values” according to, oh I don’t know, the money fairy? There were quite a few mercury dimes (selling for around $1.00 on eBay) and some steel pennies (now, they were actually worth almost $10 for a roll but Granny already deposited them in the bank). So Granny and Grandpa thought it would be great fun for the kids to put the pennies in rolls and they could then have the money. I think they had about $11 total when they finally got tired of The Baby trying to eat the money.
So Granny asked the kids if they wanted the rolls or if they wanted her to deposit the money and give them the cash. Of course my kids opted for the paper money because they are somehow under the concept that paper money is worth more. Public schools. Go figure.
Then I (AKA The Worst Mother in the World), suggested that they take the money and use it to fill the shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. For those of you who don’t feel like clicking on the link, OCC is run by an organization called Samaritan’s Purse. Wikipedia says:
It is a program where shoe boxes are packed with personal hygiene items, school supplies, and toys, and distributed to nearly 8 million children annually in 95 countries. The project has collected and distributed more than 69 million shoe box gifts and hand-delivered them to needy children in more than 130 countries
Now I’m not talking about our family filling the 69 million shoe boxes. We took home three–one for each of our terribly neglected children who live in the bowels of a war-torn, poverty-stricken country. Or our extremely privileged children who live in a nice, clean house in the suburbs and are fortunate to go to bed every night safe, well-fed and loved. But apparently, I was unaware of how terrible The Girl’s life is. so when I suggested, “why don’t we take that money to the $5 Below store and fill the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes with presents?” The Girl’s response was:
“Why on Earth would I want to do that?”