This weekend I realized we were headed down the wrong road with regards to raising our three girls. A few events happened this weekend and it made me realize that despite all the hard work I thought I was putting in, my kids definitely walk around feeling a bit too entitled. The hammer is coming down and this behavior will stop. For reference, my girls are 8yo, 6yo, and 4yo.
On Friday at school all four of us were walking into the building, me with my hands full of their teacher appreciation gifts/flowers, coffee (of course), and purse, etc. At school you always see children holding the door open for groups of people walking in/out of school. They try hard to teach good manners. But on Friday morning, Charlotte opened the door and let it hit her on the way in leaving my 4yo and myself almost getting caught in the door. Oh I just had a fit! I pulled Charlotte aside and explained that letting the heavy door slam behind you is NOT acceptable. It didn’t stop! That same evening on the way into Culvers [yes, spoiled with cheeseburgers and custard], I opened the door and saw an elderly couple coming out. But from behind me came Charlotte pushing her way into Culvers and past these two adults.
I got so mad and frustrated with her! The age old, “how many times do you have to have the same conversation with your kid?” Has she really not learned by now that she has to hold the door for adults or at least not barge past old people standing in the doorway? That you can’t argue with your piano teacher, that she’s your elder and your teacher?
Fast forwarding a little, this was on our way up to the family cabin. It’s a beautiful place in the woods with lots of trails to explore and lots of ATV toys to play with. The girls tromp around and go for Ranger rides. They get spoiled up there and “well-balanced meals” seem to become a thing of the past. I know the tween years are coming and that attitudes are going to get worse, much worse, but I still need to control these situations while I can.
Charlotte is eight and the last month or so she’s been huffing and scoffing at just about anything you ask her to do. “Woe is me. Life isn’t fair. Elsa [little sister] gets everything she wants. I’m the only one at school without a fidget spinner. Practicing the piano is so hard. I had to wash the bathroom last weekend, it’s Gretchen’s turn. I hate putting away my laundry.”
And the list goes on….
She’s not the only kid in the house complaining but I’m using her as an example. I never think of my kids as “spoiled” because I try so hard to balance work and play. But these last few weeks I realized that they are just a bit too spoiled if you compare it to how much work they have to do. The play does not equal the work in this house. And although I still believe it doesn’t have to be equal when the kids are as young as mine, it’s gonna have to get a bit closer to equal if they can’t learn how to be respectful.
So this weekend we were at the cabin celebrating family and Mother’s Day but also helping to clean up the area to prepare for summer. We cut down trees, burned brush, planted grass seed and flowers, made some flower beds, etc. Charlotte was the first to complain about something: hot, bugs, no work gloves, she got a ride on the Ranger before me, it’s too hard, she has the red shovel, I only got one marshmallow, blah, blah, blah. I was certainly not the only one to notice this behavior and let me tell you, it’s gonna stop.
Charlotte was put to work and I personally explained to her that most kids never get this [beautiful cabin with toys] and just being here is a treat, that she’s fortunate, that she is expecting too much and not giving enough in return [in life]. We are going to continue the conversation well into summer. I want to really enjoy our summer and have fun but will still need to make sure my girls are contributing in a bigger way to this household. I still believe that responsibilities create responsible and respectful kids and that’s how I intend my girls to come out. We are getting a puppy at the end of summer and that’s going to carry a whole different set of responsibilities. Life should be fun and carefree (especially when you are 4, 6, and 8yo) but it’s not going to be that way without a little hard work along the way.