Friday, April 07, 2006

101 uses for pre-teenagers

Life with my eleven-year-old daughter can be entertaining and maddening and everything in between.

This afternoon after school, I had to help out some friends by picking up their kids at school and taking them home. My own crew stayed home to watch after-school cartoons while I ran this brief errand.

When I arrived home, kids (my own and various neighborhood pre-teen girls) were running in and out of our house and backyard. (!!!)

A long-standing rule in our house is that when Mom steps out, nobody goes outside and nobody gets invited in. This is not a rule that just got made up; it's been hammered into her head for years.

"I forgot!!!" she tearfully exclaimed.

"Well, after a week of being grounded, maybe you won't forget again," I said.

And then this middle-school attitude came spewing forth in abundance. I calmly and quietly replied, "Two weeks."

Even more screeching and rudeness. "Three weeks."

She howled and stamped all the way up to her room to complete her homework, screaming that she wanted a new family. A few minutes later she came to my bedroom door and tried to argue some more. "And that makes four weeks. Do you act like this at school?" I said.

Blank stare.

"I can't control how you act when you're at school; I know how I want you to behave, but those are choices you're making. However you act at school, though, leave it at school. In our house and in our family, I expect you to continue to behave the way I raised you. If you continue to bring that nasty attitude home with you, there will continue to be consequences."

Later this evening, right before they all went to bed, she meekly asked, "Is there anything I can do to get un-grounded?"

"No, honey. You behaved very, very badly -- and in front of your brother and sister and best friend. You've been showing me a pattern lately of bad choices and bad behavior, and those things have consequences."

"But why four weeks?"

"Well, if you remember, it would've only been one, but you earned three more weeks with more bad choices. Do you remember what those choices were?"

"No," she moaned.

"Mmm-hmm, right. Good-night," I said.

If there's one thing I have learned during the past however-many weeks I've been in the Behavior-Disorder classroom, it's to spot a lie.

The most irritating thing is that this will inconvenience ME and the rest of the family just as much as it inconveniences HER.

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