I read a really interesting post about someone learning his lesson as a child and thought it is a really good example of fine parenting.
I was perhaps 9 years old when it happened.
I had a terrible habit as a kid to want to sleep in until the last possible moment. Ok, who am I kidding? I still do that. I’m usually about 30 seconds late for work everyday. But when I was a kid, this drove my mother to the brink of sanity. She put up with it for a long time, always managing to get me roused and dressed, books in hand and out the door for school just in the nick of time. Sometimes she’d peek her head in my bedroom door every 10 minutes and check in, making sure I was on track. And generally I managed to get myself together with seconds to spare. But there WAS that one time…
Mom: “Sweetie, it’s time to get up and get dressed.”
Mom: “Honey, we have to leave at 7:30 if we’re going to get you to school on time. Please get up and start getting dressed or you won’t have time for breakfast!”
Mom: “Justin, get out of bed. I mean it. You’re already going to be pressed for time to eat breakfast. We’re leaving at 7:30, whether you’re ready or not.”
Me: “Arrrrggghh…Ok, I’m up, I’m up.”
Mom: “Sweetie, are you dressed yet? I’ve got your breakfast ready…”
Mom: “DAMN IT! Wake UP and get READY!!! I swear to you Justin, we’re leaving here at 7:30. I don’t care if you miss your breakfast. I don’t care if you aren’t dressed for school.”
Me: “Ok, sorry…sorry. I’m up.”
Mom: “Are you still awake? Good…why aren’t you dressed? Get dressed
NOW or you’re going in your underwear.”
Mom: “Alright, let’s go. Grab your backpack.”
Me: “But Mom, I’m not ready…”
She grabbed me by the arm and escorted me out the front door. No shoes, no shirt, not a stitch of clothing besides my tighty whities. She held me by the wrist and led me to the car. I can’t remember this very clearly because I was somewhat upset. I do remember that I was crying uncontrollably. Likely pleading and begging in some fashion. She put me in the back seat, got in, and drove away casually as if nothing in the world was out of place. And as I began to calm somewhat, I sat, mostly naked and full of fear, in the back seat pondering my next move. I didn’t have any more outs. I had no clothing and no plan. I was fucked. I was going to school in my underwear.
Never once did it cross my mind that this could be a bluff. My mother didn’t bluff. She wasn’t turning the car around. Heck, we were halfway to school already! Here I was, in my undies and headed toward certain ridicule and major embarrassment of the worst kind, the ridicule of grade-school peers. And all because I’d chosen to sleep when I should have been getting dressed. When I should have been enjoying a nutritious breakfast. I slept this upon myself. I had learned my lesson. It wouldn’t happen again. I’d always get up from now on at first call. Various other reasoning and begging followed. I gazed into the rearview mirror, looking her in the eyes. I grovelled. And she stared back and me, cold and firm in her resolution.
We pulled into the driveway of my school, and up the lane to the front doors; the main car-rider drop off point. My mother didn’t even put the car in park. She just looked at me expectantly in the rearview. Not a speck of emotion. “Well?…,” said her eyes. I began to cry again. She put the car in park, killed the engine, unfastened her seatbelt, and got out. I was completely prepared. I had mentally readied myself to be dragged from the car, in a cliched kicking and screaming fashion. My mother went around back of the car and opened the trunk, from which she removed a brown paper grocery bag. She came back around to the side and opened my door. She stood there looking at me, like I was the worst child ever. And she handed me the brown bag with my clothes inside. “Get dressed.”
Twas indeed the last time I ever failed to hearken to my mother’s wakeup call.
The problem I see in many cases of parent-child discipline issue, is that the parent either do not follow through with a prior ultimatum (eg, “if you do ABC again, I will …”) or out of anger, frustration or bad mood, simply scold, cane or punish a child even if it is not warranted.
Don’t say something you won’t do; don’t do something you didn’t say.
Be well. ^_^