That was really sweet.

EC and I had an hour long chat this morning. We reordered the chore list so that it is easier to understand/follow/check. We updated the point distribution a bit. We listed next to each chore whether it is daily, weekly, or optional for bonus points. She’s pretty happy with this update and she thinks it will help her be more consistent. There are even zero point chores on the list because they have to be done anyway (like getting dressed and brushing your teeth).

We talked about her perception that it is terribly unfair. I said, “Let me talk to you about the things in my life where I have missed out on a big thing by having one tiny thing not be perfect. Let’s start with the masters degree I spent 7 years and $35,000 on. That I don’t have. Because I didn’t cross my t’s and dot my i’s properly.”

(Yes I know that isn’t appropriate apostrophe usage but doing it another way looks even stupider.)

I went down a long list of things that I have tried to get/accomplish and I’ve missed by the skin of my teeth. At the end… she was way less upset about losing out on a couple of hours of screen time.

I’m always impressed that she listens to me for these conversations. We talked about why I’m being a hard ass and why I think it is important given that the rest of the world is going to be way colder and less understanding than me. If I don’t help you transition to what the world expects… I’m hurting you. I’m being a bad mother if I give you what you want every time. Life isn’t like that.

It is my job to tell you no, you haven’t done what you agreed to do so you don’t get the reward.

Even though you were soooooo close.

Sorry my love.

My kids talk about the concept of punishment a lot, which is interesting to me. I don’t actually punish very often beyond a time out. They’ve both been grounded 2 or 3 times in their whole lives and the groundings very tremendously based on what happened. Sometimes it’s a minor “You don’t get x & y privilege for a week” and sometimes it is “Your life is going to suck for a week. You get nothing good.” Which is… much harsher… but uhhh… still feels namby pamby to me? When I was a kid harsh punishments involved beatings and being locked in a room that was stripped of everything. I wasn’t allowed to read or have toys or anything.

I’ve never taken books or toys away. I’ve just said, “I’m not taking you to the park/to playdates/out to dinner/you don’t get dessert”.

I really struggle with perspective on this issue.

So she’s not mad at me anymore.

I told her it’s ok for her to still be mad at me. She’s allowed to get as frustrated or upset or irritated or angry as she needs to be at me. I suck sometimes. I am the enforcer of limits and rules and punishments. It’s totes legit to get pissed at me.

And then we need to talk about it. Because I’m your mom and you are stuck with me for another 8.5 years and we need to find a way to live together.

It’s hard that sometimes I’m an asshole because I am trying to help you in the long-run. That doesn’t feel good. That doesn’t feel validating or true. It feels like a lie. Until I tell you a lot more about my thinking process and the things that have happened to me to help me feel like this is the right choice in this moment. Then… oh. It kind of makes sense. But I’m still an asshole. AND THAT’S OK. I know I’m an asshole. Yup. Totally true.

It’s fascinating to me how my kids make such small mistakes. I fucked up big over and over as a child. (This was partially due to poor supervision.) But my kids are just not drawn to the huge fuck ups I did. This is fascinating to stand adjacent to. I would never punish my kids the way I was punished, even if their fuck ups were bigger… but I really struggle with understanding how to cope with this stuff. It’s so…. opposite my experiences. My kids are so good. I was the canonical bad kid. I tested every boundary until it broke and then I just kept going. My kids don’t.

I can’t tell if I’m too hard on them or if I’m hard enough that they are having a really good childhood that will prepare them for the fact that life is hard. I really can’t tell and that’s scary.

I feel like we are rounding the bend coming out of a big disequilibrium period. We still have bumps but there is less frantic fighting. Less fury. Fewer explosions.

I can’t tell how much of this is just me and my emotional cycles. But I think the kids are feeling less distress too. EC was terribly distressed for less than 24 hours. And now she’s back to giggling and being wonderful. She isn’t angry we withheld the screen yesterday. She’s just super motivated to get her time today. (She did half of her chores before she walked in to talk to me at 6am.)

She’s excited that I am going to sit down and help her plan out the game she wants to release for her birthday. I think that’s our afternoon activity. I am going to sneak school planning into the system. Because I am deeeeeeeeeevious.

We have these amazing science books that the charter school paid for and we will have to give back at the end of the year. So I’m trying to push hard and get us through all of them in the second semester because I’m not going to buy separate copies for us to keep going next year. We have the k-4 curriculum right now and I’d rather get the 5th grade+ curriculum next if we are going to buy more from this author/publisher. Which means we need to get our butts in gear and get these science experiments done. We have physics, biology and chemistry. We are mostly done with chemistry (EC’s favorite of the science subjects), we have a solid start on physics, and we need to get our butts in gear on biology.

Amusing side note: I’m pretty sure EC is in the middle of a growth spurt. She has hurt herself running into things approximately 20 times in the past three days. It’s getting kind of funny in a not funny and she’s mad at me for laughing sort of way. It’s just so… hyperklutzy that it’s funny. This is about her body changing, not about her paying attention. She’s also getting noticeably less chubby.

I hope my kids are not scarred by the way we talk about their bodies. We embrace chub. We are gleeful and happy about pudging out because it means a growth spurt is coming soon. EC has been decidedly chubby lately. We go, “Oh look! You have a double chin again! I wonder when you will shoot up…” Because there is such a strong cause and effect with both of my children. They don’t have extra pudge unless they are about to grow. So they get excited and brag, “Heyyyy look at my belly. Chubchubchubchubchub.” Then we giggle and think it is awesome.

But Noah and I are both incredibly gleeful and delighted with our bellies as well. So far my kids seem to think their bodies are awesome.

It’s been a good morning of talking to my family.

One thought on “That was really sweet.

  1. Michelle

    This is so fascinating. I want to tale a closer look at that chore list because I think a system like that (maybe without the points) would work really well for my brain stuff.

    Your concept of consequences is foreign and awesome to me. When i got in trouble for things like having feelings, I had to either sit silently in a bathroom, or talk until i gave up. But then for things like deadlines there was a LOT of total absence of consequences, things were fine late, I pretty much never stopped working on things because deadlines never mattered and everyone around me ran very late.

    These things have not served me well at all and i have been trying so hard to learn new patterns.

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