Had a conversation with my daughter tonight. She huffed and puffed about bedtime.
Me: “You are way past your bed time – you gotta go to bed now.”
She: “UUURRRGGHH — It’s not fair!
Me: “What’s not fair?”
She: “That you and Dad always get to tell me what to do, and no one tells you what to do!”
Me: “Ok. Come here… sit… ok, now… let’s pretend you don’t have me and daddy for a day. That you are all on your own. And you can do whatever you want, remembering that you are still your age, ok? Take me through your free day without your parents. What time would you wake up?”
She: (confidently) “I’d wake up at 12pm!”
Me: “Ok. Then what?”
[She then shared the following. I jotted down her dialog as she thought through the needs, wants and actions required:]
12:30pm Eat breakfast – cereal with milk
12:31pm Play video games [notice she gave herself 1 minute to eat breakfast]
2:31pm Have lunch – hot dog fries and a coke… I’m going to go get it at Portillo’s, by scooter – bring keys and money. No idea how much anything is. Wow, that’s a long ride on my scooter…
3:00pm Go out to the park to play, have myself a picnic and bring Doritos. I know it’s bad for you but I love them. Shoot I have to go back on my scooter and go to the gas station to get a bag of Doritos and come back? And then take my picnic basket and blanket? I can’t hold that AND scooter. Ugh! That’s so much scootering!! Horrible!
4:00pm Come home and take a shower — Mom, how can I even do this?? I will just be coming home from SCOOTERING for my Doritos! I won’t have time to go to the park!
5:00pm Watch more TV and have dinner – shrimp with butter and a salad (red onions, lettuce, mozzarella, carrots) — Oh no! I can’t even have shrimp because I have to go BACK to the store to get the shrimp! ON MY SCOOTER!! That’s like really far away! And I don’t know how much money I have. I will probably be POOR after the Doritos! Omg, Mom. I’m poor! I don’t like this…
5:45pm I eat dessert – Oreo Ice Cream — OHHH MY GOSHH. I CAN’T HAVE ANY ICE CREAM BECAUSE I HAVE NO MONEY AND I’M NOT GOING BACK OUT ON THE SCOOTER AT NIGHT! WHAT A NIGHTMARE.
6:00pm – Brush teeth and go to bed. WHY DID I SAY I’M GOING TO BED AT 6PM???? [Tears in her eyes] MOM, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME. I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED AT 6PM, AND I AM SO TIRED OF RIDING ON MY SCOOTER!!!!
Me: Do you understand a little better now why your mom and dad are here with you? Not only just to love you, but we’re helping you every step of the way, training you to be a smart adult one day. And you get to go to bed later than 6pm. That’s a pretty good deal, donchathink?
She: That’s SUCH a better deal. I’m sorry. You guys are GREAT. I get it. Love you mom, and I love daddy. You guys are awesome.
Moral: In the end, take the time to paint the picture and help them “get it.” Build grateful children. It’s way hard work, at times, I know. But somebody’s gotta do it. Better the parents than society!! xo