Thursday, April 23, 2009

Temples, Teenagers & Tape

So last week I was planning to attend a session at the Temple with my friend Teeners. We planned to attend the Friday night 6:30 session and then go to dinner afterwards. I had just found out the night before that the Ex would not be taking them after school on Friday as usual, since he was out of town. So, like a good mother, I put dinner in the crock pot when I got up Friday morning. I explained dinner to the kids and told them they were on their own for the night. FunnyMan is 14 1/2, so he was to be the babysitter.

Well, during the middle of the workday on Friday, I noticed my phone was less than half-way charged. How could this be? I ALWAYS charge it on my night stand every night when I go to bed. I suddenly had the feeling the phone was not plugged into the wall or something. By the end of the workday, it was flashing me that "Low Battery" message. I was a little worried that if there was an emergency my kids would not be able to call me and let me know. I do not have a car charger for this phone. Luckily, I knew that Big-D did, and luckily when I called him I found out he was on his way home too. So, Teeners & I swung by Big-D's and grabbed the charger.

I plugged my phone in and by the time we got up to the temple, one of my kids had emailed me, which I got on my Blackberry.

"Mom. I know your phone is dead. But I hope you somehow get this message. My friends want to know if I can go bowling with them."

To which I reply,

"No. Remember I am at the Temple and YOU are the babysitter. Sorry... Not this time."

Thanks to the charger, I had enough juice for the message to send. I turn my phone off and leave it locked in the car to continue charging while we go into the Temple. The session was great and I got certain answers I was looking for.

At one point while in the temple, I thought, y'know, I probably should have told FunnyMan: You are in charge of your brother and sister tonight. If you want to go bowling, it means you ALL have to go together. Which means that ALL of your friends have to agree to watch over them. AND you have to get a ride to and from. I really did think that, because I know that his friends, though slightly rambunctious at times, are really good kids. I would trust any of them to watch my younger children. And they all have excellent parents, whom I also trust.

When we get back to the car, I turn the phone on and have 2 emails and 3 voice mails from FunnyMan, all marked URGENT. FunnyMan leaves me two voicemail "confessions" along with two emails telling me what he has done. He had also left me a note on the door. All of the messages, including the note basically say the same thing:



Here is what it says, with "mom" commentary of course:

Hey Mom, [LittleDuckling], [PrettyPrettyPrincess] & I left to go bowling with [BestFriend]. [LittleDuckling] & [PrettyPrettyPrincess] were bored (love how he shifts it to them) & for me to not go would apparently ruin everyone's plans (and now shifting it to his friends). The Kids & I have eaten (trying to prove he is responsible) & will be fine (as if to say, "don't worry mom"). I'm sorry I went over your head with this, I really am (no you're not... but good try). But the kids really want to do it, and my friends want to do it & I want to do it. (So, apparently, as long as everyone wants to do it, it's ok?) I think it'd also be a good environment as the kids are always fighting & it'd be nice to do an activity together. (so - if you stay home, you fight because you can't do an activity together?) I am really, really sorry I went over your head with this. (again, trying to sell it to me) Truly I am, & I am ready to be punished as you see fit (floggings all around!). Again, I'm sorry about this but I think [LittleDuckling] & [PrettyPrettyPrincess] will enjoy themselves (there ya go, selflessly thinking of them again, eh?). Love you Mom! -[FunnyMan] P.S. We need to get some tape (notice it is taped to the door with my physical therapy tape)

So, what was my reaction? Ah, I think the note is funny, to be honest. Quite clever as he really tried to "sell it" to me. I love the bit about the tape. Totally cracked me up. As far as his actions... Honestly, It was not a big deal. Maybe it should have been. After all, my email said "no". However, I also had that feeling later that perhaps I was too hasty in my decision. That instead of giving a flat-out "no", I should have given him the "yes" with conditions and then left the choice up to him. That is usually how I roll. I want my kids to enjoy their childhood, and I think socializing is part of being a teenager. I also believe that they need responsibilities. I try to give my kids tools to learn good decision making.

I think that FunnyMan weighed his options and knows me well enough to know that I would have been steamed if he would have went bowling at left his younger siblings at home to fend for themselves. Even though they are 11 & 9, and the 11 year old can watch over them an hour or two during the day, he is not mature enough for night-time babysitting. I think FunnyMan thought that if my phone weren't dead, and we actually had a conversation, I would have come to the same conclusion he had. He demonstrated creativity in addition to responsibility, and of course, I have to consider that, right? Not only did HE leave me messages and the note on the door, he had his friend leave me a voice mail as well as the MOM! Basically the message was, "Yes I have ALL of your kids. I hope this is ok. I didn't want you to worry, and I know the kids left you messages, but I wanted to leave one confirming the facts."

Did I punish him? Severely. He had to come with me to the church the next day as I enslaved him in setting up tables and chairs for our "fair" activity. Brutal, I know.

So, I didn't really feel bad at all at the way things ended up. Personally, I feel that he weighed the facts and consequences and felt that He made a good decision, but was also ready to accept any punishment, should I not have agreed. I really did feel ok about this.

I was telling this to another mom-friend of mine, who pointed out, "Yes. But you had already told him "no"... You should have stuck to that. Now he will think he can continue to get away with the things he wants to do."

What do you think?

22 comments:

Cindy said...

I think he should only be punished because you said, "no".
I'm sure there will be a next time, then you will have the opportunity to let him be responsible.

greenolive said...

I think that Keenan does know that when you say "no" you mean what you say. That's why he knew a punishment was very likely. But he also knew that your "no" was because he had to babysit. See, the circumstances changed because you did not tell him as a babysitter that he could not take them bowling. It was a gamble. He took it.

greenolive said...

Oh, so I think chair stacking was a good enough punishment if anything at all in this situation. I don't think he'll start taking advantage of you from now on because of this.

Amy said...

I think we pick our battles and you know your son, he is responsible and since you and he did not have the opportunity to really talk it over, like you said, he knows you and he seems to know his limits...sometimes we have to show our kids that we trust them to make decisions on there own, it shows that you have taught your son well that he would go to those lengths to let you know he was sorry and be ready to accept punishment...anyway, being 14 (and a teenage boy) shows he is a responsible kid! you have done well!!

erasundar said...

Your son seems to be very responsible and thoughtful. As commander in chief, you get to hand out pardons - just part of the job. You can always have a talk with him and tell him (some of what you told us) about your respect for his decision making and just remind him about the "no" policy. But it sounds like you handle things just fine.

BTW, I enjoyed your post about dating the other day. Here's my experience in the form of He said... and She said... http://erasundar.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/he-said/

I'd love to get your opinion.

ElleBee said...

I agree he should be punished for disobeying, but I think your punishment was fair. He clearly (and very maturely) thought through his decision and chose responsible options. The letter and tape crack me up!

Jennifer Rae said...

Okay first of all that is way funny. I have to say however, that if you let him get away with it then he will feel more entitled to "go over your head" with other things.

Maybe you could have him pay for a babysitter next time because you can't trust that he will stay home. It is not that going was a horrible decisions, it is that he made a committment to you and didn't follow through.

RhondaLue said...

For me, parenting includes flexibility and mercy. The same thing our Heavenly Father will give HIS children. There are certain things that are NON-negotiable (sex, parties, alcohol, cheating, etc) and other things that we can use as teaching experiences combining our own inspiration WITH flexibility, mercy, and love. But...that's just me.

Susie said...

My older daughter is like this. She thinks things through and if her decision is responsible, then I feel my job is done. As mothers we are teaching our children to think and make decisions. That's what he did. Besides, you said that he couldn't go and adandon to the other kids...not that he couldn't go at all.

Vickie said...

Your mom friend is right. You did say no. But, you did punish him with the chairs. So it is not like you let him off the hook.

EmmaP said...

well... as someone once said about their "parenting style", I look for ways to say "yes". It just may require thinking outside the box. And as far as the setting up of the chairs and enslaving him the next day, he would have had to do that regardless - ha! so, it wasn't a "true" punishment, per say.

Ruthykins said...

just admit that you two have a telepathic bond and that's how he knew it was okay. maybe telepathetic, whichever.

okeydokeyifine said...

The kids job is to try to get away with something. The mom's job is to hand out punishments and praises as needed. You can punish him with some arbitrary job like stacking chairs and you can praise him for knowing you so well that he knew he would get away with it. Like the song says. " you gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run". I guess he ran with it and won. But then again, that's how he rolls.

Kaye Butler said...

I think the punishment was good. You did say no. It was good of him to take the kids with him.

Now if he took them to a Drug Lord's house or the last chance liqour place, you would have had to smack him a round a little, ya know.

Man, he really wanted to go bad!

purplehaze said...

I think that your son was very mature in making the decision to take his younger brother and sister and that he left you plenty of messages plus the mom doing so too. I know you said no, but you did admit that you were a bit hasty and you probably would have let him do exactly what he did. I don't agree that this will happen all the time, but not saying he won't try it again. I think he did a good job and was very mature!

TravAndToni said...

I'm glad you didn't punish him too harshly... because I was really worried! I did take a minute, though, and put myself in your shoes before I picked your children up to go to the bowling alley. I thought "If it were me and my kids..." and I decided if we left enough "The kids are safe, sorry we didn't get pre-approval" messages... *blushes* I probably should have been a stronger voice of reason, but we loved having all the kids with us! Besides... I wouldn't be upset if our shoes were on the other feet *tactfully does not mention anything at ALL about toilet papering* so I hoped you wouldn't be either! ;) Especially since your boy was very responsible about it, and totally willing to accept whatever punishment was coming to him. They are all good kids... and he was right about all the friends being disappointed if he couldn't go!

I think the bottom line is this, really: your son respects you and he knows you respect him as well. He was assertive while still being responsible and accountable. He learned that from you! Nice work!

Blue Castle said...

I think his note is totally hilarious. He sounds wayyyy older than 14. His reasoning skills are impressive.

I think parenting is really hard. Sometimes you have all the answers, sometimes you just fly by the seat of your pants. I don't think it was a huge deal, but you did say "no" and in a different situation, it could've been bad. But, then again, your kid sounds very mature and I really don't know enough to judge your parenting skills. I think the fact that you can leave your kids with your older son and he takes such good care of them is a huge reflection on the good job you've done as a mom. And he is a boy, you know. You can't come down too hard on him. They need that "in charge" feeling. But again, what do I know? I'm having a hard enough time raising 6 and 8 yo boys. :)

The Willeyes said...

I was still laughing about this after you told me the other day...hilarious...he is so funny. The tape is the best part :) You're a good mom...that's how YOU roll!

Puphigirl said...

I think the fact that while you were in the temple and had the thought that another option was to take his siblings, and then in the end he did shows that you two are on the same wavelength.

Yaya said...

I agree with you. He was responsible and made a decision that he had obviously thought through. Any other babysitter you might have hired in could have done the same thing.

Laura said...

Lol! Don't punish him! We had a TON of fun! hehe. ;]

KiennaP said...

"LittleDuckling" and I actually didn't want to go at all! But the thing is "Funnyman" Said that if i didn't want to go I still had to go! And you punished me for no reason because I had to set chairs up! I even had to help with tables a bit! Not fair! What did I DO?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????