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?