My daughter Elora doesn’t disobey so much as get overcome with emotion. There’s a certain watery chore that is necessary for the health and welfare of all peoples that she just absolutely HATES. She doesn’t mean to throw a tantrum every time she’s told to do it. She just hates it so much that she can’t make her body move towards it.
Last night was a particularly bad scene. Erin and I were playing Skip-Bo with her at the kitchen table. It was getting late and I realized that if we didn’t stop the game immediately, she wouldn’t have time to perform her chore. The chore is deplorable enough as is, but to stop a super fun game to do it? Her 9-year-old brain couldn’t process it. We might as well have told her to go gut herself on a pike. The girl would not budge. Her parents were being such punks.
Erin tried Parent Voice™. When that didn’t work, she threatened to take away her allowance for a week. When that didn’t work, I stepped up and gave Elora until the count of three to get up from the table and MOVE. If not, no allowance in April. The entire month of April.
Erin pulled me aside to tell me that was way overboard. Elora’s braces were tightened earlier in the day and she was hurting and there was the curtailed Skip-Bo game. No need to cut the child off the knees so quickly. A toe would have sufficed.
But you can’t argue with the results. Elora got up and did what she was told.
Knowing she’s usually such a good girl and feeling bad for her, Erin and I decided Elora could stay up and watch Survivor with us, so long as she understood it wasn’t a reward for bad behavior. I felt particularly bad about the giant hammer I threw down on her, so I offered to go to 7-11 to get her a treat. Also, I wanted candy.
Once Elora was clean and done with her chore, she and Erin had a heart-t0-heart. Elora was extremely apologetic, confessing that she didn’t know what came over her. I offered to take Elora with me to the store so she could pick out her own candy. She jumped at the chance. Our little, ever-growing girl was back to normal.
I got a Coconut 3 Musketeers bar for myself (new, and quite good) and Elora picked up a roll of Bottle Caps. We got something for Erin as well and made our way to the register. I really should have seen what was coming next, especially after Elora had asked me in the car how much I thought our treats would cost.
The cashier rang us up. “$4.00.” I moved to pull out my cash, but Elora got there first. “Here,” she said. “I’ve got this.” From her multi-colored, duct tape wallet, she pulled out a five dollar bill.
Myself, the cashier and the couple behind us in line dropped our jaws. “No, no,” I said. “You don’t have to do that, Elora.”
“Consider this my ‘I’m Sorry’,” she said with big, sheepish grin.
I tried to protest more, but she wasn’t having it. Defeated and humbled, I let her pay for the treats. We walked out and before getting back in the car, I gave her a big hug and a kiss on the top of her head. All the money she had left in the world afterwards was one, solitary dollar.
Are you a parent? Ever feel like you’re raising a generation better than yourself? I know I do. Constantly.