Hey, don’t judge me. I didn’t say my kids suck. I’m just saying parenting them does – sometimes. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I should say that I have really good kids. They make good grades; they are (mostly) well mannered and (mostly) well behaved; they are athletes dedicated to their sports. Do they mess up? Yes, of course. Don’t we all?
You build a trusting relationship with your children. Occasionally, that trust needs to be tested. So, we do random bed room checks, back pack checks, and phone checks. They are always clean and clear and I always feel like a real jackass after doing it. I don’t hide that I’m doing it, in fact, I almost always do it in front of them. They, almost always, sit there with pride knowing there will be nothing to find because they can be trusted.
Until they can’t. Until that day you find something that’s against the rules. Not a big something, just a little one, but something against the rules nonetheless. I sit there choking on my disappointment while I look at the evidence that my child has broken my trust. Tears well in her eyes, but I’m not sure if it’s shame for doing it or aggravation for having been caught. My confusion about what I thought I knew about my child is overwhelming.
“Tell me why you did this? Did you do it because you thought I was stupid or because you thought I wouldn’t check?” I asked, not sure which answer I hoped was the truth.
“I didn’t think you’d check because I knew you trusted me.”
OUCH! Straight through the heart. I’ll say it again, I have good kids. Her rule violation is a minor one. On the other hand, is any breach of trust ever a minor one? I trust her because she follows the rules. She broke the rules because she knew I trusted her. And therein lies the Catch 22 of parenting and the precise reason it sucks.
Having good kids has made me lazy and complacent. In theory, I’m a vigilant parent not because I have bad kids, but because I want them to know my standards are high. I expect a lot from them and I’ll check to make sure they are meeting those expectations. But then I relaxed and apparently they thought my expectations did too.
After stepping back from the situation, I realize this is exactly what parenting is all about. My kids are going to make mistakes and it’s my job to help them learn from those mistakes. Breaking a rule is about so much more than doing something you’re not supposed to. I get to teach her how important her integrity is. I get to teach her that trust is paramount in a good relationship. I have been gifted these children to turn into good people. The pressure of that sucks; not the actual parenting.
I should thank the little rule breaker for reminding me that it is my responsibility to be a vigilant parent, not a lazy one, no matter how exhaustive that is. Yes, thank you, my little rebel. Oh, and you’re grounded.