(Why is it that Firefox tells me "texting" is misspelled? Hasn't that word been put into a dictionary yet? I mean, come on ... get with the times!)
It seems like a simple enough rule. Ask permission before you start texting or calling or emailing or chatting with people. It's the same thing that hundreds of decent parenting books have said for decades ... know your kids' friends, right? Just because a lot of friendships are maintained electronically these days, doesn't mean that rule no longer applies. It's not that old-fashioned!
Anyway, she was attempting to have secret relationships via text yet again and I caught her in the act, yet again. I have told her several times now that I realize her job as a teenager is to rebel and test her limits, but I wouldn't be doing my job very well if I didn't consequence her when she goes beyond certain reasonable limits. Otherwise, how do we teach her to stay on the right path?
Now that we've traveled this particular road with her half-a-dozen times (or so), there's no point in my yelling and screaming over the whole thing. I try to just treat it more like a business transaction. Is that cold? Well, regardless, I try not to take it personally, is my point.
So here I was letting her yell and scream at me and I wasn't taking the bait to get into a big emotional debate with her about it. I spoke calmly and rationally (which, if you knew me, goes against pretty much everything I'm about usually) and explained to her that she would be losing her cell phone once again. This time she'd only had it back for two days.
Among several other random comments of hers that I wish I could have recorded to play back for her in about twenty years (oh, how I'm so glad my own mother never thought of that -- that I know of), she spouted off this gem...
"You and Daddy always want me to learn things the easy way ... to listen to you guys and learn from your mistakes ... why won't you ever let me just learn things the hard way?!! We'll never see eye-to-eye."Now you must realize that I had to bite my lip not to explode in laughter over this one. First of all, I don't think she's ever used the phrase "eye-to-eye" in her life, so I'm not sure what Lifetime show she was watching that geared her up for that one. Secondly, how is this the easy way? What's so easy about trying to keep secrets that continue to be found out and then losing her phone over and over and over again? She is learning the hard way!
Finally, and I'll put it as delicately as my dear husband put it, "What kind of jerk-parents would we be if we wanted her to learn everything the hard way?!"
This thought crossed my mind the very next morning as I sat teaching our youngest son in our homeschool room. He stood on the folding chair to reach something off a bookshelf that was much too high. He was leaning way off the edge and pretty much on one foot and still couldn't reach what he was going for.
My response? "Hey, be careful there ... can I help you get something? I don't want you falling and hurting yourself." Easy way.
But I paused for half a moment before saying that just to think about whether I should let him learn the hard way about the situation just so I could use it as an object lesson for our teenage daughter. I'm terrible. But in the end, hopefully you'll agree, I went the better route and warned him of the danger before he cracked his skull.
That's all we're doing with her. She's going to do what she's going to do ... but in the meantime, we're going to warn her about dangers and we'll consequence her when she actively seeks them out. Otherwise, why would she need parents at all?
On a bright note, our other four children saw how annoyed S was went she went stomping off and so they compensated by cuddling up close and showing me lots of love. This was a real joy. There was a time when they were so much more willing to put kids against parents and make the situation worse. But they're starting to realize that teenage sisters aren't cake. So once in a while, I earn their respect because of her disrespect.
I should note that teenager or not, she has many good qualities and sets a good example for her younger siblings most days. This just wasn't one of her more shining moments and hopefully, she'll grow from these experiences. I know I do.