My 12-year-old is on a Rampage of Minor Atrocities.
She says she (a) wants to get over her Fear Of Getting In Trouble, and (b) Wants To Rebel, which (she says) is a Very Difficult Task with a mother like me.
“Why?” I asked, puzzled. I’d assumed rebellion was sort of a built-in no-brainer (sometimes literally, as in “Where were your brains when you chose that friend/wore that outfit/called your mother a bitch/set fire to the table?”) when you’re newly hormonal.
“It’s tough to be a rebel when your mother doesn’t disapprove of anything you do,” she said.
It’s true. My two daughters, 12 and 9, have asked me why they never get “punished” – as in, bed without dinner, sit in the corner, beatings, or the typical sanctions. Instead, if they spill something carelessly (as, really, we ALL do), they simply have to help me clean it up (or clean it up themselves). (As we all do.)
If they’re fresh-mouthed, I either don’t speak to them, (which they HATE, but it’s what I’d do to anyone else, right?) or I assume they’re too tired to behave, and so it’s beddy-bye.
Consequences, rather than punishments. It just makes more sense. Two weeks ago, my youngest and her pal sloshed through my black and white kitchen (newly painted, newly floored) and got mud all over EVERYTHING.
Next day, I hear her friend whisper: “Did you get in trouble?”
Youngest, to her friend: “I don’t GET in trouble,” she said.
“You don’t? You LUCKY!”
A snort. “Yeah, SO lucky. I hadda get on my hands and knees with my mom and wash the floors and cabinets we messed up.”
So said Oldest, in her Rampage of Minor Atrocities, poured Gatorade on the seat of a classmate. The next day, she confessed to the friend, who, with an exasperated gasp, pointed in amused horror at her friend. “It was YOU! I had to wear my hoodie around my waist all DAY because of you!”
“You’re telling on yourself?” I asked her in surprise.
“That’s half the fun,” she grinned. Then she did a dead-on accurate Cheerleader: “AAAHH! Where’s my ponytail?” I watched in horrified fascination as she then mimed swinging an invisible ponytail in front of said imaginary cheerleader’s face.
I laughed till I cried. Then: “You didn’t really cut anyone’s ponytail off, did you?”
A beat. Then: “No, Mom.”