It turns out parenting is a living, breathing entity: capable of change but also subject to rearing its ugly head on occasion.
Over the last six or so months my perspective has evolved so that the term “child rearing” is a bit like a puzzle piece that no longer fits. Rearing up the children, so to speak, implies that I (in my infinite wisdom) shall lay down the path upon which our children will Journey Into Responsible Adulthood. (I just heard that phrase in Morgan Freeman’s booming voice. Anyone else?)
Turns out, not so much. I don’t mean that we’re not trying to guide the kids as they grow and learn; I’m still working fiercely to instill every single girl lesson it took me forty years to learn on Bear’s impressionable mind. But this has become more of a two-way street. I’m using my life experience to teach the kids, yet I find myself learning from them, too.
Still, parenting is parenting, and some things remain the same. We talk through our decisions. We help T-man and Bear face their problems and find their solutions. We have clear expectations and talk honestly about, well, everything. We Love-and-Logic ’til the cows come home.
And that approach is usually successful but…well, let’s just say I firmly believe in the occasional come-to-Jesus meeting. A fly on the wall would have witnessed a doozy last month.
Bear had been on a real tear again. We hashed through whatever drama was going on that day, hit the bottom line, and then Bear planted herself at the kitchen table while I did some work. We had some serious talking to do, and it was go time.
I reminded her of the solemn promise I’d made the last time she acted up and emphatically assured her that if this kind of behavior continued she was NOT going to like the consequences one bit.
I told her to think back on T-man’s turbulent period, otherwise known as the Horrific Era. He spent a significant amount of time getting in trouble then being miserable when he was punished, and it took an extraordinarily long time for him to finally get the message.
Then I asked her: Yes, it took forever, but did we back down? Did we give up? No. We. Did. Not. We’d survived T-man and we’d make it through her stage, too.
There’s often a point in the come-to-Jesus meeting when I have something akin to an out-of-body experience. Suddenly I’ll be outside myself, listening to my mama-voice rain down all kinds of hell in that room. This is how the rest of that talk went down:
“We will beat that drum over and over until you hear the message in your sleep: you act up? There are consequences. I don’t know how long it will take you to finally get the message through your head, but you can expect the same (freaking) thing every time. BECAUSE WE ARE IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL, MISSY.
I’m not just in this parenting gig for a pleasant time. I’m supposed to be raising decent human beings here, and decent human beings do not treat me the way you just did. So KNOCK IT OFF.”