Truth be told, there has been an obscene amount of struggle in our house in recent months. I chalked it up to hormones, mostly in a certain 14 year old girl child. The tiniest little thing can spin into an argument about god knows what.
Of course, these problems had nothing to do with ME. I was only trying to help. With my incessant nattering on about things that don’t really matter, it turns out, or things that really should no longer be MY responsibility.
Two days ago there came a turning point. The Geek had been remarking under his breath whenever me and the girl started talking/arguing (sometimes innocently, it must be said) that “someday my family will get along”. I took this hard. To me it seemed like I was getting the blame, ALL the blame.
So I began thinking. What if all this grief WAS my fault. How could I change things.
Maybe it was a little bit about power, that I am the one in charge. But I never meant for that to happen – I really just forgot to notice that they weren’t small anymore. So I realized I needed to let go. I made a list of things I would no longer control, shifting responsibility and consequences back where they belong – to the people making the choices. The Geek thought this meant I was giving up on them. No, it meant it was time for them to stretch their wings a little and see what happened, showing them that I had faith they would make good decisions (ok, maybe this last bit was a stretch).
So last night, I sat them down and explained that I would no longer tell them when to go to bed, to hurry up and eat before school, to empty out their lunchboxes, to change out of hoochie clothes, to clean up their messes, to do their chores. If they failed to do these things on their own, they would be tired, hungry, get the wrong kind of attention, find dirty dishes in their bed and the screen going dark if chores were not done.
It seemed to light something within them, this opportunity to consider their options without the reminding and haranguing. Was it perfect on the first night? No, I did issue a chore reminder before screen. I figure there’s an adjustment grace period. There was NO bedtime meltdown with the Girl Child though – I went to bed when she was still up. Her choice. I think I will institute a new rule tonight though – no screens after 9 pm. If they really want to stay up they can read or listen to music, but I really think their brains need to wind down without screens.
One thing I WILL continue to track is homework. It is non-negotiable, BUT still their responsibility. I made the Boy Child search for answers to his math problems on his own. Guess what? He found them when he didn’t think he could. He is beginning to see improvement in all his work and just maybe starting to believe that he CAN do it. Baby steps.
I will be curious to see how things evolve. I am sure there will still be meltdowns over things for no reason – they are still 12 and 14. At least none of them will be me saying “go to bed!” for the 20th time in one night.