It’s been a long, long week at our house. My seven-year-old daughter had been warned a few times about some behavior my husband and I have been trying to nip in the bud.
Clearly, our threats were not getting through and action had to be taken, but boy, did we dread the follow through. If ever there was a case where a parent says “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you”, this was definitely it.
To say stuffed animals are the most important thing in Emma’s life is a gross understatement. Bears, puppies and kitties in all shapes, sizes and colors cover every available surface in this child’s room — I’m amazed she finds a place to sleep at night, her bed is so populated. When she kept misbehaving, I let my frustration get ahead of me and I told her if she did it again, I would take away every stuffed animal she had.
Well of course, you know what happened next.
My husband discovered what she had done while she was at school. I had all day to think about what I was going to say to her, but all I could imagine was what torture we were in for. This daughter of mine can wear you down like nobody’s business, and gosh, wouldn’t it just be easier on everyone if we could come up with some other punishment?
My mom’s always reminding me that no one promised parenting would be easy.
That night, we laid it all out for Emma, reminding her of how many times she had been warned. At first, she gave excuses, then she offered promises. When we informed her that she would lose her stuffed animals for a week, it was as bad as we feared -- tears, sobbing, even screaming, but we were stoic. It took six large garbage bags to clear out her room. It felt like an eternity for her to finally fall asleep, her eyes swollen and her voice hoarse.
Every morning, she asks us to change our minds. When she gets off the bus in the afternoon, she wants to know how many days are left. At night, she tries to bargain — can she just have one animal back? You would think it might get easier, but she’s just as upset now at the end of the punishment as she was at the beginning.
And I suppose that’s the point. I want her to remember how this feels — how it’s not fun to lose things that are important to you, and that if Mom and Dad say they’re going to do something, they absolutely mean it.
It’s been a long, miserable week. But I have to hope it was worth it.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.