Thursday, May 7, 2009

Creative Parenting: By Mom

Today we have a guest post from Mom. Oh how I love creative parenting =). Enjoy...

Yesterday was a very interesting day for my youngest son. The events of the day actually started last week on Wednesday when “Roonie” (a nickname since toddler hood) got up and got ready for school. Just before it was time to leave to go to school, he tells me he’d like to take a personal day, ie. stay home when he’s not sick.

I have been known to allow this from time to time once or twice a year if one of my kids is overstressed or something. In Roonie’s case though he had already had his day this year and he failed to make up his work. I made a mental note to myself that he wasn’t getting another personal day till summer break. I told him no.

His response to this unacceptable answer was to become more insistent and argue with me, at which point I warned him that this approach was not going to get him anywhere he wanted to be. My son then, as he has been known to do on rare occasions, seemed to become hyper-focused on getting his way…allowing himself to slip into “risk all” mode of attack. (Interjection from big sis "Pure ME"- she isn't stretching the truth here folks, if nothing else she is being nice and keeping how much of a stinker he can be from you. We love him anyway.) Foul words were spoken. “Who do you think you’re messing with? You boy- in-man-sized-clothes!” I think to myself, but what I say is…

”Congratulations! You are now grounded for one week. And no video games either!”
I thought that would be the end of it. But my ever determined child held back a gasp, lifted his chin, ever so slightly, and came back with…

“So what?” Waiting to see my reaction.

“Get in the car. You are going to school. This conversation is over!”

Then, my precious baby, my mostly easygoing son, well behaved and usually reasonable, (Hysterical laughs from this end of the computer...maybe even a snort or two, but who's keeping track...) gambled the biggest long-shot in all his fourteen years…

“Why should I? You stay home every day and do nothing but sit around!” As soon as the words escaped his mouth, I saw the most infinitesimal grimace, just a tiny little change around his eyes that let me know of his awareness that he’d crossed a line. He’d bet it all and come up short. He waited for a terrible reaction from me…

I picked up my keys. I opened the door. I stared hard into his eyes, challenging him to resist. He grabbed his backpack and hurried to the car, never uttering another word. I silently dropped him off at school. Plotting my revenge…

Fast forward 6 days. I inform Roonie Tuesday night that he will be taking a personal day tomorrow. “Set your alarm for 5:45 am You will be doing everything I do on a typical Wednesday. You’ll get to see just how much sitting around I do. You will start by making Dad coffee and a lunch in time for him to take it to work at 6:15." After mild protest and the explanation that his grounding only ended when all my tasks for tomorrow were finished (by him) he accepted his fate and went to bed with his alarm set for 5:45.

Roonie’s “personal day” went as follows:

5:45 meet Mom in kitchen to make coffee, a peanut butter banana sandwich, and leftover fajitas for Dad’s lunch. Then he had free time for about 1 hour. He went back to sleep.

7:30 We drive his sister to school to simulate the trip we take driving him to school every day. His sister’s school is just a few blocks away and she usually walks, but today she is treated to the ride that Roonie gets every day with few exceptions.

7:45 Roonie now eats his breakfast and unloads the dishwasher, loads the dirty breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, then cleans off the kitchen counters and wipes them with a clean cloth. Then he makes Mom and Dad’s bed, grabs the dirty laundry and starts a load. He gets the clean towels out of the dryer and folds them and puts them away. He has the bathroom rugs to wash and he gets them out of both bathrooms and sets them aside to wash when the first load is done. He then cleans the bathrooms (we do this daily) and picks up the hamper and wastebaskets and sets them on the toilet so they will be off the floor. He sweeps all the bare floors, about 800 square feet of them. (I have a professional dust mop for this, it‘s a daily chore because of our golden retriever ) Then he mops them all, (A job I do once a week on Wed..) and replaces the wastebaskets and hamper. Then he vacuumed.

10:15 Roonie comes up for air. I let him take his shower and have a little free time.

11:15 We discuss what Roonie is going to cook for dinner and he decides spaghetti is something he can tackle. He goes through the cabinets to see what we need from the store and makes a list of the things we need not only for dinner, but to replace whatever we are out of. He only whines a little about going to the grocery store. (He hates to go there) He only whines a little about folding the second load of laundry. (I whine about this sometimes too, Ugh!) He puts the rugs into the washer. And we leave for the store.

12:00 We have a list so our trip is pretty quick. I let Roonie find the aisles and the products he needs. He does everything but drive the car, and pay.

12: 45 We arrive at my oldest daughter’s home to exchange a few items.
(That's ME!) Roonie waits patiently while I play with my grandchildren and visit with his sister. He likes to go to her house and enjoys observing the children not watching the children. I read Curly a story and tuck her in for naptime and we head for home.

2:00 He puts the rugs in the dryer. He puts the groceries away and gets some free time till we pick up his sister, who stayed after school to work on a project. She could have walked home if it wasn’t pouring down buckets of rain. I’m often on call like this.

5:00 Roonie starts dinner and sets the table. He stays in the kitchen so he can keep a eye on the food while it cooks.

6:00 Dad gets home just in time for dinner and Roonie has prepared spaghetti with meat sauce, green salad and crusty bread. Yum! Good job Roonie! Then he cleans up and puts away the leftovers and loads the dishwasher, washes the counters off again. Dad asks if he enjoyed his day and he said “school is easier.” followed by “Can I be ungrounded now?” He is usually just this wordy.
(Actually, it's usually less. He doesn't talk much...)

I hope he has learned something from walking in my shoes. I actually enjoyed spending time with him and he had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing. Maybe because he knew he had it coming! If he ever really did think I sit around all day, I hope I have changed his mind.

Apparently I have a complex and can't actually let someone have full control of my blog for the day. Control freak? We judge by progress, not by the current state.


Vicky said...

I still think he should have had to help read the naptime story to Curly. Complete with character-voices, of course! :)

Seriously though, I think it was a good way to show him what it means to be a stay-at-home parent (even if you don't have little ones anymore). I bet he went to school today with a new appreciation-- for you and for school!

Mom (Lisa) said...

Do you remember that you were the personal day queen? You always made up your work so it was okay.

I got "creative" with you a few times too. I'll leave you to mention them if you want's your blog.

Thanks for the cute interjections!

Amelia said...

LOVE THIS! If we were friends "in real life," I would want to meet your mom. She sounds like an amazing, smart woman! Thanks for this highly educational and entertaining post. :-)

Gramp's said...

Great guest blog SIS. Your Mom told me about this and we have been laughing sense. Brought back memories of your big brother. [Uncle Don to you Me.] Seems like all boys have to go through this. Remember Smiles will be a teenager someday also.

Laurel said...

That is a GREAT story. Thanks for sharing. I LOVE creative parenting.

mama of 13

Grandma S (Sheryl) said...

That was a great blog. Creative parenting is right. I loved it!