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I’m Not Young Enough To Know Everything….

April 28, 2008

The Irish Dramatist, novelist, and poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is responsible for these cynical and very wise words. He obviously knew enough about adolescents and the peculiar stage of “all knowingness”. I am a parent of an “all knowing” child. What I mean by that is, before I can finish a sentence…. I get, “I know!”. Now being former military, and a child of military parents, this is unacceptable so I press for the standard, “yes mam”. I don’t believe in the child getting the last word. So through my adventures in parenting my little know it all, decided that she was tired of keeping her room clean. And I, her ever tolerant mother, was weary of picking up and warning of dire consequences. So this week, I did what I call, “Combat cleaning.” All clothes under the bed, on the floor, not on a hanger, behind the door, on the bed, and on the closet floor, went in the Goodwill bag. I took her furniture out of the room (except for one dresser and bed), because they had everything but clothes in them. I found papers, spoons, forks, food, candy, and piles of useless junk. My daughter came home from school to find her room clean as a whistle.

I left her with these items and here is the list:

9 outfits for school of my choosing 1 for each day of the week 2 alternates

5 outfits of formal wear or clothing for church

3 pairs of everyday shoes

1 pair of slippers

2 pairs of church shoes

night clothes

personal items

That’s it folks, everything else is outta there. I cleaned it out! I didn’t fuss or yell or scream, when my daughter came to me and asked where all of her stuff was. I calmly explained to her, I had given it to people who would actually appreciate it. I told her for every article of clothing that I find on the floor in the future it will be put on the bed as a warning, after that it goes in the trash and will not be replaced instantly. If she wants more clothes she must now earn them. She flipped over this, she said “you refuse to give me an allowance for doing chores, so how can I get money?” I explained, “look sweety, I will not pay you for doing what you should do, chores are a part of the price for living here, you live here you clean here…Period.” I devised another way for her to earn money, I said you can earn money by beating me on some educational games such as Nintendo DS Brain Games, or Big Brain Academy, My Spanish Coach, My Word Coach, Etc. OR you can go above and beyond normal chores. For instance,  go wash the dog without me asking or taking him to be groomed. That saves gas and money. Sweep the driveway or the porch, mow the lawn, wash and vacuum the car. All of these tasks are not regular chores so they deserve a little change in the pocket. Also consistent good behavior is recognized and I reward her. I find this is far better than yelling and screaming. How did I find this out? Trial and error. My daughter not only has selective hearing, but selective memory, selective sight and reasoning. My daughter also has a state of the art Parent Mute 2.0, it is a small button located just at the base of the brain stem. Parent Mute 2.0, is activated by the motion of rolling eyes or when the voice of the parent goes above 30 decibels (barely a whisper). As soon as my daughter rolls her eyes I know that Parent mute 2.0, is turned on and all she sees is my mouth moving, sparks coming off my hair, steam rising from my body, smoke blowing from my nose, and flames shooting out of my mouth. No wonder she always looked like it was so funny or seemed to have this smirk on her face when I was fussing. I would literally expend all of my energy yelling and screaming to no avail, it went in one ear and straight out the other. I think all she heard was, “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!” To which she would reply, “yah!” Then we would go into the following dialogue:

Me: What?

Her: Yah


Her: YES!

Me: Don’t take that tone with me, how do you answer me?

Her: (barely discernable) yes mam


Her: Yes MAM!

It was at these times when I believed most in miracles…. For I believe it was all the angels in heaven that came to her aid to stay my hand as I contemplated slapping her back into the womb.  I think she does it just to get a rise out of me, but you know what? Seriously, Kids really do need parent’s to remain consistent and stick to their guns because if they don’t.  The  children of the parent’s who were afraids to discipline and parent their children will find their children,  will come slinking back home one day, wondering why their parent’s didn’t prepare them for the cruel realities of the world “out there”. Being an only child, my child is a little spoiled,  so sometimes I tell her no,  just so she can hear it and deal with it.  She has no siblings to compete with, so I make sure she plays team sports so she will not be selfish, and so that she can learn how to be a team player. Also this get’s her used to the concept that the universe does NOT revolve around her.  I do this because I have been able to identify some people  who were only children a lot of times by certain behavior patterns. This,  (a lot of times), is through no fault of their own, however their parent’s probably did not realize the world wasn’t ready for mommy or daddy’s  little Prince or Princess. These days it’s not just the only children that are ruining everybody’s day and having troubles coping, it’s the favorite or the favored children. You send them out and they come back like boomerangs, they may not come directly back but, they may become end up a financial leech or a constant mental strain, calling always needing support.   Unable to maintain a stable home life or marriage without you holding their hand throughout the entire thing.  Other children are over disciplined and sheltered from the world,  to the point that when they get a mile from home and an earshot from daddy they break every rule they can.  These little shining examples of Grace and virtue turned pure Hellions overnight are a Godly and well meaning, parent’s worst nightmare.  So what do you do,  how do you raise your child?  Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”   So while my little one (not so little now), goes through materialism withdrawal, and I ponder over the meaning of life, and possible sanity issues. I leave this parting thought, In all things seek God first and pray. Proverbs 3:6 “in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”   Our children don’t come with instruction manuals but, they come with the greatest instructor on standby ready to teach whenever you need him. Without my relationship with the true and living God, I think I would have long flown over the cuckoo’s nest while going through adolescence with my daughter, who is still a know it all and still a teenager. Thankfully, we have weathered this storm, and by some miracle my daughter is actually keeping her room clean! Hmmm imagine that! Wonder what happened? I guess it must have been when I threatened to go to uniforms as the next consequence. Oh well, if you can’t whip em back in line then, take their clothes and put them in a uniform

Works like a charm!

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