My oldest might not consider my disciplining him a kindness but in time (and I mean adulthood) he will.
When you’re ten, it’s hard to listen to your mom rant and rave. Constantly. Did you do your homework? Practice the piano? Brush your teeth? We’ll call these the “just living” nags. Add on top of these the “not in my house” list (What word did you just day?) and any 10-year-old’s brain might explode.
Every day, our oldest inches closer to figuring out who he is and who he wants to be. I understand pushing back is part of the process. As his mother, I need to remind him when he goes too far.
I tell him in no uncertain terms to stay out of the muddy creek before his piano lesson. Five minutes to five I call from the kitchen for him to grab his books and head down the street to his waiting teacher. My voice bounces off the wall in the empty room. One guess who’s in the creek.
A quick phone call locates the boy and the dad relays my message. Run. Now. Piano.
I receive an email from his teacher that I. showed up late for piano, covered in mud and without his books. She sent him to clean up in her bathroom. In the process of "cleaning" he summarily trashes her bathroom. I have a pretty clear image in my head. I know what ours looks like.
Instead of yelling or breaking into an ineffective speech of I-told-you-so, I have him read his teacher’s email.
“What do you think?” I ask. He bites his lip and avoids my eyes. “I think,” I say, “that you need to write your teacher an apology note and hand-deliver it.”
“Mom? Will you come with me?” he asks as I pull into her driveway. He screws his eyes up, his mouth turns down in a grimace.
“Nope,” I smile. “This is all on you.”
Note in hand, he trudges to the door like a boy off to the firing squad.
I watch the exchange from the warmth of the car: His teacher steps onto the porch. I. hands her his note. She reads it and leans in to hug him. A smile breaks out across I.’s face.
“See,” I think. “That wasn’t so bad.”