I was just telling my dad how wonderful my 6 year old daughter has been lately. Ever since we reduced her iPad usage and instilled a more structured evening routine, her attitude and over all energy has been calmer and more pleasant. She has been more engaged at school, she has been doing what we ask of her, being more respectful, helping out around the house, and just over all being the fun loving and playful self we know and love.
With that prelude fast forward to Saturday. My girlfriend came over with her 2 year old son and we all walked down to the beach for some fun in the sun. Yes the benefit of living in a small beach town, is a 10 min walk to the beach, followed by replacing the burnt calories with ice cream on the way back. My daughter was a little attention starved with my girlfriend when she first walked in the door. But overall, it was a great outing She was well behaved at the beach. She had fun. We built sand castles together. We played in the water together. She was even understanding when I needed to tend to her baby brother while she played on her own for a bit. We even collected really snazzy shells and rocks she could show off at her kinder class “show and tell”.
After ice cream, we headed home and played in the backyard. While my girlfriend packed up her belongings, packed her sandy little boy, and loaded the car, I walked into the bathroom to to clean up, and there it was…. Starring me right smack in my face, as I stared at my greasy, sandy, hair, and sun burnt freckly face. And huge fucking “A” scratched into the mirror. I couldn’t believe it. I stared at it for a while in disbelief. What the fuck was she thinking? What did she use to scratch this? And why would a six year old choose a symbol of the Anti-Christ, or Anarchy? Is she planning mutiny on me? I don’t get it.
I walked into the living room, right in front of my girlfriend, my husband, and the 2 babies. “Get your butt in the bathroom, right now.” She had a blank look on her face and followed me. I had her look in the mirror and I asked her “what do you see?”. Of course the answer was, “I don’t know”. After a couple rounds of that game, she says, “It looks like a star”. A star! Now I see it….. Yes a star. A fat 6 inch star carved right in the mirror. Turning my clean, vintage, pink bathroom, into a vandalized truck stop. It could have said, “For a good time, call 555-5555, carved into the mirror, and I would have been just as pissed as looking at a star”.
So the question is? What do you do? How do you handle this as a parent? She is 6 years old? She knew it was wrong. Why she continued to do it, even with knowing it was wrong, I don’t know. My mom said she remembered doing a similar act when she was a child, out of peer curiosity. Is that why kids end up playing with fire when you aren’t looking and set the cat on fire? Curiosity? Did my child loose all sense of reason and logic when she realized that her new found rock treasure from the beach could make really pretty designs when scratched on the mirror? And didn’t stop to think, “holy shit, mom will freak out of me if I even think about doing this?”
In the end, we had a long talk about how I work really hard taking care of the house to make things nice for us. And how I was disappointed that she would destroy our family belongings like that. I also said that I was going look into out how much it would cost to fix the mirror and she would not receive any allowance money nor would I buy her anything over the next month, so she could help pay for the damages. But these are the times where I question what is the “right” thing to do? How do I effectively parent her where it is ingrained in her head that she should never do anything like this again…. without causing physical harm?
Sometimes I wonder if in 15 years from now, when the kids are out of the house, and I have “empty nest syndrome”, will I look at that star scratched in the mirror, or the drawings she scratched into my bed head board (oh yeah, this isn’t the first time this has happened), will it bring me memories of how my kids used to be young and free?….Nah, I’ll still be pissed off.
Please help me feel like my child is somewhat normal. Tell me about your what your fully functioning children have done in the past that is similar to my little outlaw? What is your story? Please share, please do.