There are certain things that you assure yourself you will never do when you first become a parent. I swore I would never answer my kid’s questions by saying, “because I said so“.
As a curious and sometimes contrary kid, this was the go to response to the constant barrage of rebuttals I launched at my parents. To a young insecure adolescent this felt less like an experienced adult’s right to assert control over a situation and more like I wasn’t considered important enough to warrant an answer, smart enough to understand it if I did, or mature enough to accept it.
As the goal is to raise self confident, smart and mature members of society, I felt decisive about striking “because I said so” from the handbook. I knew that coming to an agreement would take a little longer but I figured half of the lesson was in finding the solution. The result is that I am positive I have raised clever, mature, little problem solvers. Unfortunately, that is all I am positive about these days.
When you are parenting toddlers it’s easy to engage in these types of discussions because although I could appreciate their unique perspective, I could still confidently say that I knew better. When my little Cractpots would ask why they couldn’t stay up just a little bit longer, I would explain that growth hormones are released when they sleep and if they wanted to grow up big and tall they needed rest. After a little consideration my savvy little sweethearts assured me they were willing to sacrifice a few inches just to watch one more tv show, but I gravely explained what a slippery slope that was. One day it’s just a few inches. Next thing you know you’re binge watching an entire series on Netflix, you only ever get to be 3ft 2 and you’re never able to reach the cookies from the top shelf. You spend the rest of your life blaming your poor mother (who consoles herself with all the cookies because she did get enough sleep when she was younger so she’s able to reach them). Cookies to this day are a powerful motivator and effectively won the argument.
It get’s a little trickier as they get older. I’m not always 100 percent sure that I know better any more. Sometimes they really sound like they know what they’re talking about and who am I to argue with that kind of confidence when I can spend days debating with myself over whether I should paint the basement pure white or super white.
I spent my Sunday helping with 2 different science fair projects and a grade 11 English essay. It started out smoothly enough. The font that was used on the display board was a little small and I commented that a larger title might be more eye catching. I then segued into figuring out how to input information using the scientific method. This led to an hour of googling the scientific method and trying to keep the youngest engaged even though he just showed up to make a hologram using the properties of light and Plexiglas. I’m interrupted to try to figure out how to add images to a document with a program that I am not familiar with. Using a different program is out of the question because then it can’t be presented on the school system so I add that to my list of things that I need to learn today before I can even begin actually helping. Editing an English essay seemed like it would be easy in comparison but it’s on Pathos and how characterization supports it and how can I edit words if I’m not even sure what they mean exactly.
This is all the easy stuff.
Helping give your children direction even though you’re not exactly sure where you are. Making sure that you’re not taking over, but also making sure that your children know that they’re not alone and have support. Knowing that something can walk like a hologram, talk like a hologram but not actually be a hologram because it’s not created using coherent light…but I digress.
Even though you’re exhausted and your head feels like it’s been caught in a vice you’ve kept your cool and walked the line between guiding and leading which is good because this is just Round 1.
Round 2 is when your teenager wants to go to a co-ed sleepover. It feels pretty easy. The answer is definitely a No. When I am asked why, I feel like I have a solid defense.
It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just that I can’t trust them. She asked me if I thought that she was a bad judge of character and I carefully mention that sometimes she’s a little too trusting. She reminds me of how I’ve lectured her about judging others and asks me if she should try assuming the worst of people instead of expecting the best. Well no my clever little Cractpot, but maybe you could expect the best from a distance until you have evidence to back it up. She wondered out loud how she could get evidence if she’s never allowed to go anywhere and I told her she was more than welcome to go for the evening. She lamented that they had all planned to make a big breakfast together and she didn’t want to miss out so despite it being highly inconvenient for someone who is not a morning person, I suggested that maybe we could take her back in the morning. If she was allowed to be there in the evening, and allowed to be there in the morning, she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t spend the night. They would all just be sleeping. What trouble could they get in when they are sleeping? It’s amazing what kind of trouble you can get in when you’re suppose to be sleeping I retorted warily. At which point she asked why she was able to go to sleepovers with girls but not boys. I explained that boys going through puberty might not be thinking as clearly as they should be and she assured me that a lot of her girl friends are pretty confused as well and wasn’t I always supporting equality of the sexes. I finally admitted that I was worried that boys and girls can get a little carried away in the heat of the moment but she assured me that the friendships were all purely platonic. I countered that she might look at them as platonic but maybe the boys thought differently. She grumbled that I had always told her that she couldn’t control what other people thought or felt, she could only control herself, or had that changed? I assured her that I knew she could control herself, but during a time when she was going through so many changes, what if she slipped? She tallied that many of the all-girl sleep-overs that I had let her attend included a girl who was gay and another that is currently unsure of her sexuality so what was the difference? Why can’t I go?
She desperately wanted to join her friends.
I just wanted to keep her safe and the safest place I knew was with me.
Eventually there will be a day when I will have to let her go.
But today had been a very long day.
And my brain was tired.
I said it..
because I said so.
She stomped up to her room.
I agonized on the sofa and ate a half a box of cookies. Thankfully I saved some because an hour later she crept down and curled up next to me and ate the other half. Luckily cookies are a great motivator and effectively won the argument.
So if you’re doubting yourself, and wondering if you’re worth it, smart enough, and mature enough…know that you are.
Because I said so…
and I have cookies
Kids can be a pain in the neck when they’re not a lump in your throat ~ Barbara Johnson