Some of the best times of my life happened in the summers of 1990 and 1991. I had my own car, a great group of friends, and multiple jobs keeping me fueled up with gasoline and beer. Days were spent in pursuit of coin, (relatively successful) nights in pursuit of tail (much less successfully).
Every now and again my parents would step in to apply the breaks, telling me that I needed to spend some time at home “cooling my jets.” It was hard to understand why. I was having fun, using my own money, and staying out of trouble. ( Not getting caught). Why were they trying to spoil it for me?
It was also hard for them to explain. To their credit neither ever used the words “because I said so”, but that was the general idea.
I find myself in similar situations often now, with both children. There are so many things that I don’t want them doing, but am unable to articulate good reasons why.
As I’ve mentioned before , the little one very rarely lets me know when she is awake anymore. She changes her clothes and sneaks downstairs to grab mommy’s I-Pad, knowing that her time on it is limited. I get up soon after, make a coffee and spend about an hour on the computer. I catch up with my Facebook and Twitter accounts, answer comments on the blog, and try to read and comment on as many other blogs as I can. When I’m done, she’s done. I could easily spend much more time doing this, but I don’t want her on the tablet any longer than that, and my list of things that I should be doing instead isn’t going to get any shorter on its own.
Alaina has no such responsibilities and doesn’t understand why I’m taking it away from her. The next thing she is going to do is watch cartoons and eat breakfast while I shower. Is that really any better than playing on the I Pad? She finds my answer of “I don’t want you turning into a zombie” about as satisfactory as the teenager does when she is made to put down her phone.
She also doesn’t understand why her morning snack has to be fruit but if she eats a good lunch she can have a few chips or a small bowl of ice cream. Why can’t she have Doritos now if she promises to eat strawberries later? Well, because its 10:00 in the morning. We don’t eat chips in the morning. No, they won’t be any healthier later, but if society says that I have to wait two more hours to have a beer, you have to wait for your chips.
Kayla has nothing to do all summer, but we still make her get out of bed by 10:00. They are just words but she’s not allowed to swear or listen to overly profane music. We make Alaina wear clothes all day, even if she doesn’t want to, and both kids are forced to change their underwear daily. Neither is allowed to pick their nose.
How many of our parenting decisions are made simply because it seems like that is what we are supposed to be doing and saying? How hard is it to not resort to “because I said so” when confronted with this?
The teenager has spent the last four nights out with the new boyfriend. When I tell her tomorrow that she needs to spend the day at home, she’s not going to understand why, and I’m not really going to have a good answer for her. It just seems like it’s time for her to take a break and “cool her jets.”