parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Saturday, March 10, 2007
    Yes, but is there a cancellation fee?
    As I posted last week, E has been really struggling to catch up to the organizational demands of 5th grade. Where she used to have one homework assignment per night, placed in a folder by her teachers, she now has several, and she is responsible for ensuring that it's home with her, and that she writes her assignments down herself. It has not been easy. She has far to go.

    The issue that arose recently isn't even about homework. It's about a scarf. It has been very very cold here. On Tuesday morning, it was 6 degrees, with a windchill of 10 below zero. I have bought E three hats this year, she has a scarf, and I bought her one of those muffler things that goes around your neck, but covers mouth and nose. She really fights gloves tooth and nail, and because her down coat has cavernous pockets and she always walks with her hands in them, I've allowed her to go to school without wearing gloves, but I require that they be in her pocket, in case she ends up needing them for whatever reason.

    She was told to get her "extras" as we call scarves, hats and gloves here. She couldn't find her muffler. She couldn't find her scarf. She didn't like her other scarf. She was unhappy and fussing. I told her that I would let her use my (much cooler) purple scarf if and only if she promised me to bring it home. That day. I told her that the reason for this was that it was going to be freezing again the next day, and she would need to wear it again. I also told her it was MINE, and I didn't want it lost. She said okay. I told her I was not kidding, I was not taking it lightly. She said okay. I thought (and likely said outloud) that she has said "okay" to these sorts of things on several ocassions, and it does not always mean she will follow through. I told her, therefore, that if she wanted to wear my scarf, rather than her red (uncool) one, then we were going to make a deal --- if it didn't come home with her, she would need to buy me a new scarf. She said, "what if I bring it home the next day?" I said, "too bad. Because if you don't bring it home today, then you will need to bring another scarf to school tomorrow, and by the end of the week, I won't have any scarves left. If it doesn't come home today, you owe me $10." She said fine.

    Guess what?

    She left the scarf at school.

    She brought it home the next day.

    She has thus far paid me $6 of the $10. The last $4 will need to be worked off through 4 extra chores at $1/pop.

    She has spent the entire week trying to convince me that she really shouldn't have to replace it, because she brought it home. I told her too bad. She could have worn her own scarf, but this was the deal we made, and we agreed on a penalty. She isn't happy. She keeps trying to convince me that it should change.

    I got sick of that.

    Today I started explaining to her how much this bothers me. It came up because I realized that she lost a very nice hooded sweatshirt that I bought her in the fall, with her school's name on it, that I bought for the express purpose of it lasting her for the next 3 years. It was oversized and cozy, and it's the last year they're selling this particular style. It's gone.

    E, Beloved and I started brainstorming ways to move past this issue. She suggested that I just not replace the items she loses. I told her that was unacceptable. That I'm not sending my child off into 10 degree below zero weather with no hat or scarf, just because she loses them. That to do so would be completely inadequate parenting, and I wasn't interested in contributing to the death of my child.

    Beloved suggested that on weeks she forgets things, she not be allowed play dates on the weekend. She blew up at that idea, which got her sent to her room. We were all brainstorming, and there was no reason to blow up, as if the suggestion was actually an instant rule set in stone, rather than a suggestion.

    She's been emotionally tenuous all day long. I swear to god, if she was just a little less flat chested, I'd worry that her period were about to start. Instead, I will wonder if she's actually anxious about the spelling bee tomorrow.

    I didn't like Beloved's suggestion. I really feel like a consequence needs to be related to the behavior that I'm trying to correct. I feel taht if it is, then she will be more likely to learn the lesson that I am wanting her to take away from the situation. If she's bringing stuff home so that she can have fun with her friends, it's more like a dog performing tricks than it is about E learning the importance of being responsible. Also, the punishment just doesn't seem fair. I think that this is an important stage of her social development, and I don't think it should be taken that lightly. That's really another post, in order to explain my thinking, my fears, and my efforts - a post about how I am now the parent I hated in my own mother - the one who thinks, "wow, that girl is a bad influence" and starts devising ways to keep my daughter away from "that girl."

    In the meantime, kids now have cell phones. Several kids but not all. The girls in J's class who have cell phones, I tend to find ridiculous. The kids even younger? I'm just blown away. Why does a kid need a cell phone? A 7 year old child? Their moms pick them up from school, their moms drop them off at school. What the hell?

    E's friends, though, are starting to get cell phones. This, to me, makes a hell of a lot more sense. They're starting to walk places on their own. There are no longer pay phones on every corner, and the kids don't often carry money. I know one of her friends walks home alone, and uses the cell phone to let her mom know when she's arrived home (although, why can't she use the house phone? I suppose many people don't have house phones anymore ...) I also know that when E and her friend walked to cello lessons together, I wished they had a cell phone so they could call me when they arrived, so I could stop wringing my hands.

    I'd pretty much decided that next year (6th grade) was when E would get a phone. She's starting in baby steps this year to walk around on her own, but next year, the baby steps will grow and she'll stop needing an escort at most times (in our immediate neighborhood).

    She knows that I'm thinking this way.

    My suggestion for the disorganization issue?

    We set a date for the cell phone. Every time she forgets and/or loses something, that date gets pushed off. I first suggested her birthday (late September). I then changed it, because if (ha! I mean, when) the date does get pushed off, I don't want it to surround her birthday in negativity. Considering the reason why I think she will be ready for (I was going to say "need" - but don't think it's the right word) a cell phone, I decided that the first day of school (early Sept.) would be more appropriate.

    We wrote up a contract --- the target date for her to get a cell phone is set, and we made lists of items and situations which will push that date off by either 1 week or 2 weeks. Gloves, hats, scarves, single homework assignments, sweaters - 1 week postponement. Coats, jackets or school projects - 2 week postponement.

    I'm a little concerned that she will do well, and then she'll leave for her father's where the lessons won't be reinforced. Then she'll come home and get a cell phone - but her level of responsibility will have backslid, and she'll lose her damned cell phone. I'm just going to prioritize reinforcing it all before school starts (we'll have close to a month). We also need to work out how we'll continue to stay on top of it after she gets a cell phone - we can't give her a cell phone and then not reinforce the lessons as it pertains to her homework and other belongings.

    I hope this works to help her get all of this in order now, at a young age, rather than see her struggle with it as a 34 year old ..... like those who come before her.


    posted by Zuska @ 7:32 PM  
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