It was a lovely, although somewhat muggy morning, and my kids and I were waiting in the drop off line at the elementary school circle drive. We happened to find ourselves behind a parked bus, so the kids jumped out of the car and were going to walk up the sidewalk to the entrance to the school. After just a moment, my son turned around, came back and knocked on the window, motioning for me to roll it down. I eagerly complied and fully anticipated a super cute, last minute goodbye and an I love you to start out my day. Instead, as I rolled down the window, he blurted out, “Did you put my water bottle in my bag?” To which I responded, “No.” Seemingly annoyed, he responded by rolling his eyes and said, “Great! You forgot my water bottle,” and he walked away from the window.
To give you a bit of context, I asked both of my children earlier that morning if they wanted their water bottles in their bags, because in the days preceding, they came home full of water, which indicated to me that they weren’t needing or using it. I got zero responses from my fully enthralled, TV obsessed kiddos, so I didn’t put the dang water bottles in their bags. End of story. Well, hardly. :)
I would have loved to have made a parental stand, if you will, right in the midst of the drop off line, but ain’t no parent got time for that, including myself, so tonight, when he’s forgotten all about it, I’ll totally bring it up. I fully anticipate him not remembering the whole debacle, while I, on the other hand, have obviously stewed about it all day.
Here’s the thing...I didn’t forget his water bottle...and...if he wants a dang water bottle...I don’t know, maybe he should get it for himself.
I've come to realize that this is both of our faults.
Here’s the blame that I’m willing to take. I need to get out of the house in the morning in order to not be late for work, so I, essentially, am much more motivated than any of my three kids to get moving and get out the door. I do all the things to get three kids and myself ready to go for the day because I don’t want to be late. I get the backpacks, I make sure the papers are signed and in the backpacks, I make sure the snacks are packed, the “show and tells” are grabbed AND I usually make sure the water bottles are filled and in their bags and today I just didn’t.
I need to understand as a parent that, if they are used to someone doing something for them, they are certainly going to learn to expect that...and if that parent forgets to do something for them, then they are justified in their eye rolls and rude comments, right?
WRONG!!!!! Well, mostly.
This is where I won’t take all the blame. I admit that I’ve done too much for them and that is where I need to change, BUT, it is not okay for them to blame me for something that they should be more capable of doing for themselves.
I can and should start to expect more. A great goal would be to start expecting that my kids fill and pack their own water bottles. Another goal would be, instead of me getting into their bags and signing their daily check in papers, maybe I should wait until they get it and come to me to get it signed and put it back in their own bags themselves?!?! What a crazy concept.
I’d be totally lying if I said that my own personal control issues didn’t affect my struggle with just doing it for them, because if I do it, I know it will get done and I don’t have to worry about it anymore, right? Well, that might work for me now, but the thing that we, as parents, have to think about is, how will this work for them next year and the year after and when they are in high school and college?
So what I’m telling myself is…...if I don’t provide opportunities for my kids to do things for themselves, they won’t AND I need to challenge my own control issues and allow them to do it for themselves, so that they can assume responsibility for their own needs and be accountable to themselves when it isn’t done. No more of the mom blame game. Win Win
Obviously, easier said than done, but it helps me to understand, from a larger contextual picture, the value in setting these goals AND why some teens and young adults have issues with behavioral accountability. How are we to expect a younger generation of adults to exhibit accountability if we never expected them to do it as kids?
Even though my son hardly remembered his rude behavior displayed that morning and it might have been just as easy to go on with the day and forget it ever happened, I owe it to him, to any friend he might have, to any teacher he might have, to any partner he might have one day, to realize the value in accountability, “owning it” and truly learning from it.
Grab your own dang water bottle, kid.