I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.
I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.
I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle. I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”
The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.
Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”
“Great,” I respond.
“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.
“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.
Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.
She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.
She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.
I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.
She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.
I hang up.
She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!
I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”
I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.
Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!
So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.
It never pays to engage with her rage.
Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.
Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.
I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.
I want to thank you for giving my daughter detention today. Per our previous email, you informed me that she has been late to your class every day for several days. This baffled me, as I drop her off an hour early and you are her first class of the day. After several warnings, you emailed me to let me know that should she be late again, she would get detention. I assured you she would not repeat that mistake.
But of course, I cannot guarantee the actions of anyone besides myself.
After confronting her, she hurriedly assured me she learned her lesson. She explained that she gets hungry and her friend meets her to bring her food. Her friend is not always so quick.
Oh, are we blaming our friend?
No, no. It’s not her fault. Mom, it won’t happen again!
I try to give my daughter freedom within strict guidelines. A “C” in a class at any time means her cell phone gets confiscated until the grade goes up. How she operates within her hours and activities is up to her.
When I remind her to make time for breakfast in the mornings and to pack a snack, I am met with heavy sighs. She is too busy styling her hair and applying makeup to worry about breakfast.
So it happened again today. She didn’t eat breakfast. She got hungry and met her friend. She was late to your class. And, as you promised, she will now have to serve detention – one hour after school tomorrow.
In the car, she was shaken. She’s never had this kind of consequence from a teacher before.
“It’s my fault. I got hungry. I didn’t pack any snacks or eat breakfast. It’s my responsibility. I will pack food the night before.”
I wanted to lecture her and reinforce the lesson. I wanted to voice my dismay and disappointment. Instead, I said, “I am very proud of you for taking responsibility for this and not blaming anyone.”
Thank you, Ms. K., for doing the right thing. You are helping my daughter develop character and responsibility.