Monday, February 28, 2011

Let's Be Clear

Okay. So let’s be clear—we love our daughter, we really do. With all our hearts. But there are times, like this weekend, like Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3 pm in particular, where Dan and I are tempted to drop her at the bus station with a one-way ticket to Timbuktu.

It was between 1 and 3 on said afternoon that our family had a major confrontation about chores not done and plans in jeopardy (Jessie having her friend Rachel over for pizza and TV) because said chores were not done.

It was a busy weekend—that is true (Saturday morning Jessie helps teach dance, Saturday afternoon she has drama, Saturday evening was a karaoke night at the community centre hosted by Lifetime Networks Ottawa). And I did not sit down with Jessie on Friday night and have her develop her usual weekend planner (see image)—that is true. And she did have a lot of laundry and other chores to do—that too is true.

But she is expected to do her chores, and we are pretty clear about that. In fact, I can’t think of a weekend (other than those when she hasn’t actually been here) when she hasn’t been expected to do her chores. We certainly give her freedom in letting her determine when, and we certainly give her support in providing her with checklists so she knows what is expected of her. We certainly try to model actually doing the chores. And we certainly provide a structure and tell her when those chores need to be done by. That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

Jessie herself had a plan for getting all her tasks done and had written it down . . . all the steps that led up to the evening including: doing her chores, going the bank and getting money out for the pizza, finding the phone number for the pizza, cutting up veggies (the healthy counterbalance to the pizza), making a curry dip etc… That indicates a certain understanding and commitment to getting certain tasks done, doesn’t it?

And yet, when I came back from church on Sunday, I found Dan huddled under a blanket on the family room couch muttering to himself and Jessie singing and dancing upstairs in her bedroom to some loud Disney-esque tween star music.

Apparently, or from what I could gather from Dan’s mutterings, Jessie was not able to complete even one of her chores in the four hours that I was gone without getting sidetracked, and despite numerous reminders, which he is trying NOT to do because he wants to give her some freedom and was hoping that she would step up to the bat because here HE was doing chores and being a good role model, but oh no! And there is no WAY she would survive out there on her own and how on EARTH is she ever going to pursue ANY of her dreams if she doesn’t have the discipline and gets so DISTRACTED and . . .

I refrained from saying “Welcome to my life”—I had, after all, just gone to church—and instead called Jessie down. Our discussion quickly turned into a yelling match with Jessie having a meltdown and insisting that Rachel was coming over no matter what! and they were ordering pizza no matter what!

What it came down to, once we had all calmed down enough to let Jessie speak without interruption, was that we, apparently, had not been clear. “OH!” she said, when we pointed out the list of tasks that had to be done—but were still undone—before Rachel came over. And then she looked at us straight in the eye with an accusing glare, “But you weren’t CLEAR!”

It was at that point that Dan and I got in the car and drove to the bus station to buy ourselves one-way tickets to Timbuktu.


Cindy said...

Too funny!! But only because it didn't happen to me. :)

Ellen Lesiuk said...

nancy, nancy, nancy,
you could have been telling my story from last night. my biggest concern: will our children wear clean clothes when we are gone, will they eat, will they have a roof over their lovely heads.....

well, my dear friend, look around, we have all managed so how, in our various states of broken, repaired and fabulous......

So, I tell you and I tell myself -- every day, patiences.....(just so you know, i hate patiences but i too have things to learn)

on a final note. your ticket must be to Paris, some tropical paradise. We have earned at least that

Nan said...

We're saving Paris for when we get married! patience patience!