Learning a lesson


Yes, this little angel racked up $45 worth of charges from iTunes on Sunday afternoon. I received an email yesterday confirming his multiple purchases of dragon gems – gems used to buy more animals in Dragonvale. He had asked me in the previous days if he could purchase them and I had agreed here and there to let buy some for $1.99. He also paid me $1.99 to buy some (and yes, the gems are used up in three seconds). He found out my password for iTunes a while back. Ri spilled the beans. But he has been very good about not buying anything unless he asks me first.
That little angelic voice inside his head must have turned evil on Sunday causing him to go on a gem shopping spree.
I called him after school and told him I knew about the purchases. He whispered sorry. I told him we’d talk more about it when I got home. He said ok and didn’t seen too worried. When I got home, he was playing on the computer. “Hi mom!” He seemed to have forgotten all about our conversation.
I went in and spoke with Jon. He and I walked into the kitchen and asked Mario why he bought the gems without asking me. He looked down and mouthed “sorry.” Jon opened up Mario’s wallet and took all $39 out if it. “No technology all week dude. And you still owe us $6.”
Mario bit at his lower lip. His eyes swelled with tears. He continued to look down or away from us so that we would not see him upset.
I asked Jon to go to the next room. I pleaded for Mario. “Let’s not take all his money. Let’s let him work to get it back at least….” What a wuss, I am. I even second-guessed taking away technology for the week. Thank god I have Jon to impose some much-needed discipline.
We walked back into the kitchen and Jon asked Mario what he thought his punishment should be. Mario didn’t know. Jon eventually sent him up to his room to clean it and told him that he needed to learn a lesson – that’s why he’d be banned from technology for the week and have to earn back some of his money by doing chores. Smart result and one I could not have instituted without Jon. I am so bad at punishing!
Mario went upstairs.
I went up later to check on him. I still felt bad for him even though I knew he knew that what he did was wrong. How did I become such a softie when I became a mom? I would have ripped into other people who took $45 from me!
He was lying in his bed staring at his blinds. I told him we loved him but he had to learn a lesson. He turned his head over my way and burst out crying. “But you took every last penny I had earned in my entire life!”
He turned back to the shades. Confirmation: if we want to teach Mario a lesson and make it stick – take away his money.
I left him alone and he eventually came downstairs. He walked past me as I tried to hug him so I kept doing the dishes.
“Can we play Old Maid” he asked softly.
Of course, I replied. And he and Ri and I played a hand. Then we went upstairs to get ready for bed. He got his wish to have a pillow fight (Ri and Mario both knocked me a good one). I read them Baby Brains (our new favorite book). Ri and I rubbed his back, and he fell to sleep.
He woke this morning as I was heading down the stairs to take a run. He asked to go with me. I reminded him that he could not play on technology (which I knew would be a deal-breaker). He asked if he could go downstairs and play Wii. I grabbed his arms as he jumped on my back for a piggy back ride.
I placed him on the couch and he turned on the Wii as I got my iPod to listen to NPR on my run. No tantrums about not being able to play on the computer. I even came home to a happy guy. He read off the vitamin percentages in Honey Nut Cherrios to me and then told me he loved me as he headed out the door standing close to his dad.
He must understand that discipline is not the end of the world … now, I just need to understand that….


Life is messy

Yesterday, I sat on the edge of the bathtub reading Alya and Zeno to Ri as she brushed her teeth. Then I made her sit next to me to read the next page. We traded pages back and forth until the end of the chapter. One more down. She ran off to play with her friend as soon as I closed the book.
That’s how it typically rolls.
I used to have idyllic thoughts of Ri and I cuddling on the couch reading Little Women together and discussing what we read after each chapter.

Ri hates Little Women.
Ri hates to take time out from playing to read.

That’s reality. Face it, Mary.

After many months fighting it and fighting Ri to enjoy it (“Damnit, Ri, you have to enjoy reading this book with your mom because I said so!”), I’ve come to terms with reality.
Ri is going to fight tooth and nail to avoid reading. She is going to moan when I make her sit down and do it. She is not going to pick Little Women or Little a House on the Prairie as her book choices.

That is ok.

Life is messy and imperfect. Kids tend to not have your idealized version of a day well spent. They would rather sit on an iPad playing Minecraft or Animal Farm all day than do multiplication tables. I was there at one time, too.

Remember that, Mary.

When we do read together, Ri’s pleasant. She reads the words with inflection and tone. She even listens when I read to her. She engages with me afterwards when I ask her what she thought of the chapter (but that is with much less excitement and one leg out the door).
So I have learned to temper my desires and live with what I got right now. A messy, sighing, exasperated process whereby I have to initiate reading with my daughter and see her tapping her leg waiting for the last page of the chapter to arrive. And that’s ok. Because she’s reading and learning and pronouncing more words correctly even if it’s killing her. After all, how many nights did I sit up with my dad and yell at him for making me do my algebra problem over and over until it was correct? But now I’ve got perseverance and can add up grocery items in my head to know if I’ve reached $50 so I can use my $5 off coupon. The benefits come through eventually. It’s just as a parent it can get difficult to see up ahead. You get caught in the yelling and whining and you think “is it even worth it?”

But then you breathe.

And catch your daughter reading alone (albeit a People magazine).

And you remember how you were and where you are today.

And you keep plugging away at it – through the mess and tantrums – to arrive at another chapter accomplished.


Jon and mini-him

I never need to miss Jon too much when he’s out of town because Maria acts as a mini-him.

This morning Mario begged to play with the iPad and I let in after the fifth plea just to have some quiet. Maria shook her head at me and counseled “you have to say no to him, mom, and not give in.” Then we were walking out the door to head to school and I had a ceramic bowl of apples for Mario. Maria saw them and scolded me.

“You aren’t letting Mario take that nice bowl into school, are you?”

I saw Jon channeled through her at that moment. I burst out laughing and found myself responding like I would to Jon. “No babe, I’m not going to let Mario bring in the bowl to school.”

As I drove to work, I realized I did let Mario take the bowl into school. Jon and mini-him would be so disappointed….


Ok, ok, go ahead

I came across this cartoon today and had to laugh at its relevancy to my world with M&M.

I find myself way too often giving into the little people in order to avoid adversity or downright tantrums. I know, I know, I can hear my dad, Laura, Maggie and many others scolding me for not standing my ground and giving into the kids, but my god, after a long week at work, I just want some peace. And really, is it gonna kill them to eat one more Oreo or play one more game on Wii?!