I hate this night. I hate what just happened. I hate being the mom and I hate following through.
I’m not a slave driver with my kids but I do expect them to do a basic job or two after school each day. They keep their rooms clean and wipe down their bathrooms regularly plus the odd load of laundry or dishes or basic trash pickup.
We have company coming tomorrow, however, so tonight was a little more intense than usual–meaning I pulled out my cattle prod and whistle and put my minions to work.
Most of my minions at least. Everyone but June.
I don’t know why that child feels so entitled sometimes. Yes, your highness, you have to put your own trash in the garbage. No, your highness, we will not carry you up the stairs on a family litter.
June spent a nice chunk of time up in her room before dance class “cleaning.” When it was time to go to bed I went up to tuck and pray and walked into a bomb shell. She hadn’t done a darn thing (except gorge her little self on yesterday’s Halloween candy).
I didn’t yell, I didn’t stomp, I didn’t curse or kick clothes or grind my teeth. Instead I firmly told her that if she wanted to wear her Halloween costume to her school party tomorrow she had to get down and clean her room.
The room is tiny. With the bunk bed and dressers the open floor space is a whopping 6’X6′ patch. We’re talking a five minute cleaning job at the very most.
She sat on her bunk bed and looked at me. I looked at her. She lowered her chin and I lowered my chin. “June, ” I said, “You need to come down and clean your room right now or you will not be able to wear your Lady Bug costume”–that I spent four precious hours designing and sewing and hot gluing and slaving over–“to school tomorrow for the party. Do you understand?” She cocked her head and stared at me.
SHE COCKED HER HEAD AND STARED AT ME.
And still I didn’t blow.
“That’s one June.”
“That’s two June.”
Blank eye contact.
Really? She was really going to choose this? “Do you really want to choose this? You won’t get to wear your costume to the class party tomorrow…”
I know I was dragging this out but we haven’t gone head to head over something serious in a while because I follow through and she knows it. I really didn’t expect her to test me on this one.
And she stared at me…then casually looked at the ceiling.
How could she do this to us? It’s so easy to obey, and the job would have taken five minutes. I would have helped her! I wanted to help her succeed! Why, of all the days, did she test my parenting glue today?
“June, I’m really sad you chose this. Now none of your friends are going to see your amazing ballerina Lady Bug costume.” This was the moment when her eyes started to falter with that, ‘wait, what just happened?’ look. “Now,” I continued, “If you don’t get off that bed this instant and get your room clean you will never wear your Lady Bug costume again. I will be very happy to let you stay home and pass out candy with me while the other kids trick or treat. Do I need to count? One…”
You can bet she was off her bed in an instant.
And then the tears began. These weren’t fake fit tears, these were sinking consequences tears. “But Mom,” she sobbed with snot running off her chin and eyes puffy, “I told all my friends about my costume! I told them how you made it, they’re all waiting to see! I’m June Bug, it’s my June Bug costume!”
I sat on the bed and gently helped fold clothes. I’m not lying when I tell you that I felt like sobbing myself and as I write this my eyes keep brimming up. How can I follow through with this? Isn’t there some way I can rewind this and take back my stern consequence or give her an out? Can’t she use a get out of jail free card or maybe I can yell, “STING!” and send my beautiful little girl to school with her fabulous costume tomorrow??
But no. If it were any of my other children then perhaps. With June, there is no way in Helloween that I can take back my word and let her off the hook. She has a will of steel and if I can’t match her in strength when she’s six just imagine what my life is going to look like when she’s 15. Helloween every day of the stinking year.
Here she is last Friday at our first Halloween party where we tried costumes out for good measure. She has worn last year’s costume to this week’s events and has been saving this for the weekend.