Kids and Doing the Right Thing

by Cate on May 1, 2012

As The Ex has said in the past, Nick knows how to push my buttons.  By the time his Friday with his Dad rolls around, I’m ready for a break.

He sasses me like no other.  Requests are met with eye rolling.  Conversations are often punctuated with hands firmly planted on his hip.

Raised voices.  Arguments.  Debates about things to the nth degree.

My mom will tell you he’s me.  At that age.  Something about payback.

I’ve read The Secret of Parenting.  I know why I get the mouthy attitude side of Nick.  Kids act that way where they’re most comfortable.  Outside of the home, they are their “professional selves.”  Pleases and thank yous.  Compliance.  Courtesy.  Mannerly.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get all that from him.  But I get a heaping dose of attitude too.  No one else.  Kids let their guard down, and their best behavior model, when and where they feel most comfortable.  Which is why I get it at home.  The book also notes that adults do it too.  Best behavior at work.  Relaxed behavior at home.

Makes total sense.

But as I asked Mystic the other night, “When do WE get to stomp off in a huff if we don’t get the answer we want?”

His answer?  “Um, in about 10 years when the kids are gone.”


I raise my voice.  I beg.  I plead.  I bribe.  I shut down.  And everything in between.

Just when I wonder what kind of job I’m doing, if I’m even on the right path at all.

Something happens to reinforce it all.

That yes.  This is working.  It will be ok.  My actions and decisions are guiding them properly, even when it looks like it’s not.  Even when it feels like I’m getting nowhere with a capital N-O.

I got a glimpse of that on our last trip to the library.

It’s funny how timing lines things up so we see things we might have otherwise missed.

Madeline had an eye doctor appointment (perfect eyesight, likely no need for glasses for a long, long, long, superlong time), then we had to pick up very-urgent-can’t-live-without-them school supplies, a stop at AAA, drop off at Goodwill, and gas.  I didn’t want to make any more stops, but the two of them were whining and desperate to go to the library.

How do you say no to reading?

You don’t.

Or I don’t.


Even if it meant by the time we got home it was after 7 pm.

So while we’re there, the kids are looking for a bunch of books to check out.  There are a few computers in the center of the kids’ section that are set up with games and exercises.  On the table, is someone’s iPad.

That they left behind.

Nick has wanted an iPad forever and a day.

At least over a year.

Asked for his birthday.  And for Christmas.

I said no.  Way too expensive for a fancy browser.

Especially for a 9-year-old.

He saw the iPad sitting on the computer table.  No one else was in the children’s section.  Not when we first got there, nor since.

He picked it up and started walking to the door.

Where are you going?

“Someone left their iPad here.  I’m going to go turn it in to the front desk,” he answered.

My heart swelled at that very moment.  I know how much he wants one.  But in the moment of having to make the (right) decision on his own, he didn’t hesitate.  Not for one second.  He knew what was the right thing to do, and did it without question.

I wasn’t planning on stopping at the library that day.  But it’s almost like I needed to be there.  We needed to be there.  To get that little bit of reinforcement.  That yes, even through all the sass and veracity.

That I’m on the right path with them.

That we’re on the right path.

And once again, all is right with the world.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne May 2, 2012 at 6:20 am

Being a parent is probably the most thankless job ever but I can tell you that the one thing I’ve always seen in your kids is that you raised them well and that they are genuine, GOOD people who are going to make GOOD decisions in life. I know it’s sometimes hard to see when you have to deal with all the day-to-day crap but if you really hadn’t done a good job, it would come through even to strangers.


Stephanie May 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

Thanks for writing a post about your kids and how to deal with them. I find that when I come home in the evening and I’m tired and the kids are tired we tend to snap at each other. So much of my time with them seems to be spent fixing little problems and dealing with minor squabbles and I forget the bigger picture. I forget to be the adult, be the mom, be the bigger person.


Paula Ann May 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Well done, Nick, and well done, Mom!! Those moments of parental pride are without measure.


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