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Sometimes You Need to Actually Turn the Car Around

Daniel Thompson

If your kids fully know that you’re completely unwilling to follow through on your threats, there’s no way they’ll trust you or do what you ask.  I know this with my head but my heart and my laziness sometimes have a hard time laying down the smack.  I give too many “chances” and then get frustrated when they whine and beg for “one more chance, just one more chance.”

Last week for Cinco de Mayo, the kids and I met up with Dan at our favorite Mexican restaurant, lovingly nicknamed Enchilada Town.  We shouldn’t have been surprised that the line to be seated was all the way out the door but we were surprised and we decided not to wait.  We headed down the street for Teriyaki and the entourage was PEEVED.

Teriyaki for Cinco de Mayo?  They could not get on board with this travesty.  At all.  So we sat down in the restaurant and started looking over the menu and the glares from the kids were withering.  I don’t want my kids to feel entitled or be brats but I was hungry so I ignored them.

Knowing their small appetites, in regards to the fact that they are children, I told them that they’d be splitting an entrée.  “BLAH!!!  WAH!!!”  They totally lost it.  And subsequently so did I.  Quietly as a deadly mama viper, I began to whisper to the kids, “Okay.  If that’s the way it’s going to be, I guess we’d better head home.”

It was my “Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around” moment and when they started to plead and beg for mercy, I caved.  I wanted to eat without having to cook my own meal and they seemed so contrite, especially Magoo, that I said we could stay if they showed me a better attitude.

So Magoo grinned like a jack-o-lantern and started looking at food.  But Laylee, well Laylee was having none of it.  She glared at me, sullen and snotty, and answered my questions with growls and grunts rather than words.  And so I did it.  I turned the car around.  I marched her out of the restaurant while Dan and Magoo stayed to eat dinner.

I think she was in shock more than anything else.  She followed me out to the car in a daze and we had a good calm talk about what had just happened.  The short version of our talk is, “Following through with tough consequences is my least favorite part of being a mom but it’s one of the most important things I do.”

One of my most important jobs is to teach her how to get along well with others and be kind.  I need to help her learn to react in a gracious and positive way, even when she’s not fully pleased with what she’s been given.  I also need her to trust me.  She’s a good kid and a sweet girl, one of my favorite people in the world, and I need to love her enough to expect her to act like it.

She took it well.  We came home and had scrambled eggs and cuddles and she went to bed happy.  She knows she's loved and sometimes it takes me being a mean mom to prove it.

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