The youngest child,the baby in the family really does have a charmed life. By the time the third or fourth or sixth kid comes along parents are old and exhausted.
Making up rules and laying down the law takes a ridiculous amount of effort. So we lighten up a little, then we lighten up a lot.
When Jack and Mary were little I was a beast, a fun, silly, loving beast, but a beast nonetheless. Rooms had to clean, vegetables had to be eaten, and if anybody messed up my favorite punishment was the bathtub. I made them sit in timeout in the bathtub. I’d say things like, “just stare at the grout for ten minutes then well talk.”
And my temper was epic back then. I had volcanic explosions, things were broken, lots of things, like boom boxes and Swiffers. Stuff that cost me money to replace, but I couldn’t control myself. I didn’t tolerate whining, eye rolling, bad attitudes, laziness, back talk. Once when Mary and Jack whined about a happy meal toy I threw their brightly colored cardboard boxes, food and toy out the window. They were shocked and speechless but nobody every complained about a toy again. (Even back then I didn’t believe in spanking. I was way to creative for that.)
Sandor is ten now and the boy has it good. Being explosive and having nuclear meltdowns takes a lot of energy. I’m more inclined to talk to him, to analyze the situation and sort things threw. Yeah, I still get really mad sometimes but I can’t remember the last time I broke anything. If he makes all A’s he gets thirty dollars, but if he walks in with a B, I say something lame like. “You better fix that grade young man, you understand?”
For years I was a category five hurricane, now I’m a downgraded tropical storm. His room is a mess, he sometimes listens to music he shouldn’t, he and his friends stay up too late on the weekends and sleep in their clothes. Still, I have rules and he sticks to them. He has excellent manners, knows how to shake hands like a man, always makes the honor roll and he actually likes vegetables.
But I’m pretty sure he gets away with stuff I never would have put up with fifteen years ago. But my one rule still stands for Sandor and I’m not backing down. “No smoking crack in the living room!”
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