Laura and (un)relaxeddad chimed in on yesterday's discussion with some interesting thoughts:
… that's what we realized we didn't want. The adversarial
relationship with our kids. I mean, in a relationship like that, the
parents always have the power. It's just a matter of choosing your
weapons. Power always "works" to change the behavior — when little
power doesn't work, things escalate to Big Power, but power always wins.
Yes, in the most fundamental way the parents have all the power. And it's not just a function of having the advantages of age, money and experience. The real power is the emotional power that comes with the parental territory. Our kids have no choice but to need us desperately and love us passionately. And it is my children's vulnerability to my power that makes me want to choose my battles wisely and with care. Whenever I feel really powerful, I try to remember that a battle between a parent and a child is never a fair fight.
A long time ago, when Youngest was in Second grade, he filled out a little questionnaire for a Mother's Day present devised by his (blessed) teacher. It said, "there are a million reasons why I love you. Here are five…"
The first thing he wrote, in his so-careful second grade hand was, "You know what is OK and what is not OK."
This power, the power to know what is OK and what is not OK, this is the place I like to parent from. In this instance, I am absolutely sure that it is not OK for the boys to carelessly litter a communal floor with their personal detritus. Working from that knowledge, and if I inject a little patience into the process (not my forte, in case you hadn't noticed), I think the lesson will find itself learned.
(un)relaxeddad was wondering about the utter lack of communication around the whole issue:
of gets you to the same place but what if they just plain haven't
noticed? Or maybe they've put it down to the tidy elves…?
I'm pretty sure they have moved past the elf stage, but they may well not have noticed ANYTHING. Being the only woman in a house full of testosterone has made me quite aware that things that I value can have zero meaning to the men in my life. Reminds me of the time we all got in the car to go snowboarding. When we were all piled in and ready to go, I turned around to the boys in the back seat and said brightly, "We have five hours! What are we going to talk about?"
Dead silence. One beat. Two beats. Then Oldest broke the news to me gently.
"Mom," he said, "this is a road trip. We don't talk."
Back to the dilemma at hand. We are now on Day 4 and the morning photo, taken just after they leave for school, revealed this:
Since I'm underparenting this dilemma, I confined my reactions to a)one silent, internal "WTF?!!?" and b)picked up the magazine and tossed it in the recycling. Note to self: only put out-of-date reading material in the boys' bathroom.