Sep 16, 2013

Tough love

Sometimes parenting our children requires creativity.
This morning, after griping and moaning
through our family scripture study/breakfast
(and generally ruining it for everyone--again),
Zach vehemently declared that
he no longer wanted to be part of this family. 
I'm tired of dealing with his attitude every morning,
so today I required an apology
before I would drive him to school.
He refused, so I got out of the car.

This was new territory for both of us.
I usually put up with his frustrating behaviors
that always happen before school,
and then cheerfully take him when and where he needs to go.
Something snapped in my brain today,
and I stood up for myself.

There was no yelling.
No arguing.
No threatening.
Just a quiet request for a sincere apology
to the person who serves him unfailingly from day to day.

For about half an hour, Zach raged and cried
about how unfair his life is.
I cleaned the kitchen.
When he repeated his request to be emancipated from our family,
I suggested he pack his things.
He balked.

After another hour (he missed his first class),
he came out of his room and started begging me to take him to school.
I calmly reminded him of my terms.
He growled in frustration.
I took a shower.

Eventually, we both realized someone had to budge.
Since it was time to take Lexi to preschool,
I quickly scrawled out a rental agreement.
Zach could either agree to be a respectful member of the family
or pay for room and board in our home.
Happily, it conveyed the message Zach needed to understand.

He chose Option B and gave me a big hug.
It felt really good.
Then he apologized, with emotions and remorse and everything.
And then I took him to school.
When I signed him in at the attendance office,
the secretary asked if he was just late,
or if he had been at an appointment.
I explained that he had had a rough morning at home.
She gave me a knowing look,
then handed Zach the slip he needed to get into class.

I will hold onto this signed contract.
I'm sure it will come in handy the next time
(I have no doubt there will be a next time)
Zach wishes to defect.

I just hope that next time ends in a warm hug, too.
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