On the threshold

Puma will be turning 11 in January.  Since her 10th birthday last year, she has claimed the title “tween” since she is between the single digit birthdays and her first teenage birthday…and last night, we saw the first inklings of that age.

“You are not the boss of me.”

How to answer that statement, that really wasn’t a question – or was it? Was it a challenge to prove it one way or the other? Or was it the first statement of independence as she claims her right to find her own way in the world?

My answer yesterday was reflexive, “Actually, as your mother, I am still the boss of you.” Followed by the reasons why what she wanted was not going happen (stay up all night to fill the house with Christmas decorations). She said this in front of her siblings, and I had to defend my authority, right?!?

However, as I sat with that statement overnight, it occurred to me that there are other ways to handle that statement in the future.  For really, the whole goal of our parenting philosophy has been to raise self-assured, compassionate and self-realized individuals.

We strive to treat our children as human beings, not mimics or pets who are bound to obey without question. While we try to behave in a way to earn their respect, we try to avoid the “boss”role. Speaking for myself, I strive to be a compassionate parent to serve as a tour guide through the life lessons they must learn to be competent adults.

What was going on last night? She wanted to have the house ready for the season because Christmas is her favorite holiday. She wanted to have it ready as a surprise for Busy Bee. And she doesn’t like it when things don’t happen the way she had planned.

To her, all the joy of the day was forgotten because her one goal to have the house decorated was unfulfilled. Forget the fun she had playing outside as she and her siblings helped Daddy with the garage. Forget the help she gave me, just the two of us enjoying some quiet time in the kitchen while everyone else was outside. Forget the fun she had running around after dinner playing games with her siblings. Her day was terrible because Christmas decorations were incomplete.

So then, a better response to that statement would be something like, “You are right – at the end of the day, only you are the boss of you. And we hope that you will make choices that preserve your health and your happiness.  Would you say that staying up all night to impress someone, when it will compromise your sleep and your immune system, is a good use of your time? Or maybe, we can make a checklist, and be diligent about completing it every day so that by the end of the week, the house looks the way you want it to, and we all stay as healthy as possible this season?”

If only life had a “redo” button.  Since it does not, I will take some time this morning to honor her feelings, make that list, and get started on it as soon as today’s school day is complete. Thank God our children are resilient, and that we are blessed with another day with them to be their guide, their North Star on life’s journey.

As I close today, I ask you to remember a family in your prayers who lost their North Star yesterday. Ella Bowen was a beloved dance mom at our childrens’ dance school. From what has been shared on social media, it seems that the other driver was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Such a tragic loss of a beautiful human being, who leaves behind a husband and two beautiful daughters. Hold them in your thoughts and prayers as they find a new normal without her by their side.