Wednesday, January 13, 2010
What kind of a mother am I?
I've been pondering this question all day. Am I the type of mom that raises a criminal? Do I foster the kind of kids that seek to harm others to feel better about themselves? Am I raising honest kids? Or, am I raising self-serving liars? So this question about what kind of mother I must be has left me giving my parenting a long hard look.
I have tried my best to raise my children to be polite, compassionate, and honest. In many instances I have succeeded. But for some reason, certain points don't stick with Madeline. Am I just a crappy mom? Or, does my child just make bad choices or perhaps not even give any thought to her actions? I'm not sure what the answer is, but today I just feel like I'm a failure of a mom.
Today I got an email from Madeline's teacher at 9:25AM, a mere 40 minutes after she was dropped off at school. I've learned from past experiences that it's generally not a good thing when you get an email from the teacher this early in the day and the subject is simply your child's name. If you haven't received one of these emails regarding your child take my word for it when I say you don't want one. The email essentially stated that my child told a malicious lie to a classmate who has been distraught over her missing dog. What did she do? Madeline told the little girl that we found their lost dog, fed it, and Ellie let it outside this morning and it's once again missing. So the poor girl told the teacher what Madeline said. When confronted by the teacher, Madeline decided to lie (again) before coming clean. I can't for the life of me understand why she did this.
When she came home from school she concealed this incident from me for an hour. I asked her how school was and she acted suspiciously, but told me she had a good day. She did her math without complaint (very unusual). She asked for snacks. I didn't deny a single one. Lolipop? Sure. Candy cane? Why not? Hot Chocolate? You got it, kiddo! The hot chocolate pushed her over the edge. The guilt was evident on her face and she decided to come clean. I think the slight glimpse of the email from the teacher on my laptop may have prompted the confession. To unnerve her a little more, I very calmly (no yelling) talked to her and hugged her. She initially told me the teacher had it all wrong and that she lied after the teacher wouldn't believe the truth. (Madeline has actually done this many times in the past, but I don't understand why she would implicate herself like that.) I gave her the benefit of the doubt and told her that I would have to write a letter to the teacher. She guiltily sat down and drank her hot chocolate. When I mentioned to her that I would accept her version of the story as the truth she perked up a bit. Then I added that I really had no other option but to believe her because the only ones who really know what was said are her, the other girl and God. I then mentioned that God is also aware of what she's saying now. Her face dropped. At that point it was clear that she had lied to me. (What else is new?)
There was also a paper (called a "Think Sheet") that I had to sign to acknowledge that I saw what Madeline wrote about the incident and why her actions were wrong. Madeline, clearly hoping to conceal this incident from me, decided to sign the paper for me. Yep, she printed "Karen" in pencil. On some level, I found this a little humorous. I explained to her that doing that was deceitful. I also let her know that it's forgery and people go to jail for that. She was very upset when she heard that and wanted to know if she was going to go to jail. She told me she forged my signature so she wouldn't get in trouble. (I print Karen in pencil as my signature in case any of you are interested in stealing my identity.)
I told Madeline that she'd be heading off to the church Saturday morning for confession. At first, she didn't want to go. But after the forgery conversation she asked me if I could take her over to the church now. She was pretty disappointed when I explained to her that she would have to wait. All of the guilt for what she had done today had taken it's rightful place on her conscience.
I had Madeline write an apology to the little girl who she upset with her lie and another one for the teacher. They weren't exactly heartfelt apologies, but I guess a lackluster apology is better than none at all.
When Bryan came home we discussed the days events a little more. He reiterated the forgery lands people in prison point. And he wanted to know the motive for the initial lie. Turns out, she did it because the little girl isn't nice to her. Madeline has a hard time accepting that not everyone in the world will like her. She would be friends with everyone if they were all willing, so it bothers her when someone doesn't want to be her friend. We had to talk to her about how it's fine if someone doesn't like you or if you don't like someone, but it doesn't mean you can be mean to them. I was picked on as a kid and I know what it's like to want people to like you. Really, I do. But the blessing (if you want to call it that) behind being in that type of situation is you realize that it's not important to have everyone like you. I look at interactions with others like this: Either you like me, or you don't. Either way, I'm not going to let it affect how I look at myself. I try to impart this to my children, but clearly, Madeline wants to learn this the hard way. Madeline is a social butterfly, and I'm pretty sure being popular and liked by everyone is a major focus in her life.
So there's my day and the reason for pondering what kind of mom I am. I try to impart the importance of being honest and kind to others to both of my children, but for some reason it just doesn't always stick with Madeline. It confounds me, and it baffles Bryan. God help me when the teen years roll around in less than 5 years. Hopefully by then my child will be better at making good choices and have a properly formed conscience to help keep her out of sticky situations.