Today was an exercise in patience, and not like forcing my brain to control my mouth, but like lifting heavy objects to keep myself occupied, to thwart my anger. I don’t know what’s been happening lately, but little by little I’ve been losing my little girl and gaining a premature teenager, with all the angst and agita that comes with it. It all came to a head today.
We were at the hairdresser’s, who also happens to be a friend of mine, and all my ladies were there to get their hair washed and cut. Of course that means there are in-between times, when two out of the three are sitting there waiting. And you know how it is; the waiting turns to restlessness, the iPad gets taken away, and the real fun starts.
Lexi: But how come I’m the only one who gets my iPad taken?
Me: Because you’re the one who wouldn’t listen to your mother when she said it was your turn to get your hair cut.
Lexi: I was almost done!
Me: It doesn’t matter. It’s not about “almost.” It’s about doing what she says when she says it.
Lexi: I shouldn’t have to do what she said, what you say. I should be able to do what I want.
Me: We’re the adults. We’re in charge of you. You should listen to us when we tell you something.
Lexi: Why should I have to listen? I’m allowed to stand up for myself.
Heidi: This is not standing up for yourself. This is being rude and disrespectful. We’re your parents. When you get a job and pay your own way in this world then go ahead and make your own rules. These are our rules, and you will follow them.
Me: And you can cut it with the attitude. You’re not getting your iPad back right now. Be lucky your mother is letting you earn it back through good behavior. If it were up to me I would take it for the whole day.
Lexi: But it’s myyyyy iPad.
Heidi: Actually, Alexa, did your money pay for it? Are you the one who worked hard all week to get a paycheck to purchase it?
Me: This is not about you being allowed to stand up for yourself. This is about us doing what’s best for you, as your parents. If you’re disrespectful you should have a loss of privilege. And you’re not making anything better for yourself with the way you’re acting right now.
Lexi: I just want to be able to make the decisions for myself.
Me: You’re nine years old. Maybe you think you’re going on 30, but you don’t want to force that time to pass. You want to enjoy being young because it only happens once. Do you know how many children don’t have what you have? And you’re so ungrateful for it that you’re going to pout because we took away your iPad?
Lexi: Well I can’t wait to be an adult so I don’t have to listen to anybody else.
Me: You always have to listen to other people, Lexi. That’s how your mother and I make decisions that are best for you and your sister. We listen to each other and we make decisions together… for your own good. And all we ask for in return is some appreciation for what we do for you. You’re being incredibly ungrateful right now.
Heidi: Take time and think about why what you did today was wrong, how it was disrespectful to your father and me, and to Miss Debbie and her hair salon. You won’t get your iPad back for the rest of the day, but be lucky you even have one to lose.
Me: You’ll understand one day. But until then you’ll have to work harder on being grateful and appreciating what you have. Otherwise you just won’t have as much anymore. There are so many things you have that you don’t need, that we give you because we’re kind and generous, because we want you to have opportunities to express yourself. But they’re not necessities, and if you don’t appreciate them you won’t keep getting them.
Heidi: And Lexi, if you act like that ever again we won’t go to the nice hairdresser who does a great job on your hair and doesn’t hurt you while doing it. I’ll keep bringing Madeline here and I can take you to someplace where somebody isn’t nice like that. Is that what you want?
Me: So how are you going to be?
Lexi: I’m going to be respectful of other people and their stuff.
Me: And you’re going to say it less sarcastically?
Me: I’ll take it.