Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Airing Out the Dirty Flip Flops

I have no doubt that the list of delinquencies that our kids’ futures hold will grow far beyond what we experienced yesterday. That being said, Logan, the last of the three I would have expected to pull off this trick, really threw us for a loop. After a quick morning discussion about flip flops being against school rules, we were off and on our way to start our day. Yes, Logan protested a bit and obviously thought I was being unfair since lots of her friends have been wearing them since the weather changed, but I explained that I knew that the school had this rule and we would not be breaking it on purpose. It seemed she accepted my reasoning.

Fast forward two hours and I am back in line to pick her up. Watching her as I move up through the line, I am thinking my usual loving thoughts of how little and adorable she is. I love this funky little jean jacket my mom got her and searching out some funny little trinket or jewelry she’s wearing to show her individuality. While I performed this common surveillance, my eyes landed on her feet.

Flip flops!

I zoomed past anger to full blown furious in about two seconds. By the time she got in the car, I was unable to greet her with my usual excitement and questions about her day. All I could muster was, “Are you wearing flip flops?”

“Yes,” she said, not meeting my eyes.

I lost it, went off, and said the wrong things for sure. Half way (probably speeding) to Riley’s school pick up, I told her I could no longer discuss it; that I’d have to talk with Daddy and then we would talk about it again. All the while she was crying about the fact that she was starving and that I didn’t give her the usual snack when she hopped in the car. I was so mad I didn’t care at that moment. I was mulling over another of her comments that went something like this, “So-and-so told me how to do it by putting them in my backpack. She said that’s how I could still wear flip flops to school like her!” Of course she thought this blame game (which I know had to be a true story) would get her off the hook, but it just added fuel to fire.

I could not believe that my child had done this. I don’t think for a second that she would have ever had the devious forethought to come up with this plan on her own. (The proof is in the pudding: she didn’t have the maturity to know to take them off and pack them away at the end of the day!) There was a girl in high school whose parents forbid her to wear jeans. Several mornings a week, she arrived at school and went straight to the bathroom to change out of her gap khakis. That, at age 15, makes sense to me. This, at age 6, does not. Is it possible that peer pressure is in full force already?

I hate to be disgruntled with another child, but this girl, so-and-so, keeps causing trouble. She has asked Logan to be her best friend, only to change her mind the next day, convinced her to sneak candy to school to give to her and hurt her feelings on more than one occasion. She cute and outgoing and spunky and I knew when I met her that she would be a ring leader of sorts. Then, Logan's teacher moved them, the only two kids in an advanced reading group in class, to the same desk. After Logan scored 100% on the reading test that only they had on Friday and she did not, this is what happens on Monday. Am I reading into this too much? There is no way she could be being vindictive, right?

I called Mike after we got home and I had cooled off a bit. I had moved from keeping her inside for the rest of the day to taking away her flip flops for awhile. I figured that Mike would have some wise words to guide us through the consequences portion of this event, but he thought she should stay inside for a week and lose her flip flops for the summer! We compromised and all flip flops were confiscated for the month and in the end, she endured a stern lecture on doing what she knows is right, not what others tell her to do and being her own person. For this child, who at this point is leaning more toward the need for acceptance, than the glory of individuality, it’s going to be tough. But the bottom line is that she is good to the core and I know that she will figure it out, especially once she learns that she can be herself and still be liked – by other good kids.

The other night after a jam-packed Sunday, Mike and I were both exhausted and well beyond the limits of our patience. When we passed each other running around at dinner time, he said, “It’s amazing what parenting does to you.” When I asked him to explain he said, “It’s so hard and we’re so tired and we have no patience!”

I agree, it is. But one thing’s for sure: you wouldn’t try this hard at any other job in the world. The day-in and day-out may break you down, but one 4 year old’s soccer game, a 2 year old’s constant “Hewwo Mommy, Hewwo Daddy" or a 6 year old’s sweet innocence make it all worth while.


susan said...

Who did that in high school???

mary said...

I was smiling as I read the descriptive first paragraphs that ended with "flip flops" and me laughing out loud... and then THOUGHT ah oh... Logan is in trouble. As a Grammy, I don't like my sweet grand babies to have to experience any discomfort in their lives (a scolding included) but I do realize that character is not formed by breaking rules. Logan is no longer a baby, a toddler or a preschooler and with the wonderful perks that come with being "older," come a host of lessons to learn - some of them tough ones. As much as I wish those flip flops weren't housed in the closet for a month, I understand and applaud your disciplining. I don't know which is harder, being the parent or being the child. I just know it is challenging to be consistent when it seems the other kids aren't made to follow the "rules" - but it is worth it.