Recently, Abby's been having some major attitude problems. Ok, major may not be accurate by some people's definition, but it's accuate by mine. Last Friday, when I dropped her off at the YMCA for the day (school's out care), I reminded her to make good choices and lead by example. Another words, I don't want to get any phone calls about bad behavior or have a *car conference* in the rides out line with one of the counselors when I pick her up. She acknowledged me in that, "yeah, Mom, whatever," way that 7-year-olds do. I was really thankful that I didn't receive any distressing phone calls all day long. I even commented to Mike that today was going to be a good day as we drove into the Y lot and got in the rides out line. Little did we know (da duh dum). As Abby gets into the car, one of the counselors stops by for a little *car conference* time. He lets us know that Abby had two incidents that day. First, she drew/wrote on another boys face with markers. Second, she hit another boy across the face.
I'm being totally honest here...I wanted to scrunch down in my seat and let Mike drive away really, really fast. Of course, Abby is nearly speechless as this transpires and she isn't very forthcoming with details once we start grilling her. We get more details...the boy did ask her to draw a star on his face, which she did. But, we find out she also wrote "I am weird" on his forehead. I kid you not, I started crying as soon as she said that. Crying for the boy who she wrote that on and crying because my child, the one I carried in my womb for 9 months, the one I was gutted like a fish (c-section) for, was a bully. She was one of those horrible children I encountered nearly all of my childhood and adolescence that picked on other kids (jokes, insults, etc... because bullies don't just punch you). At some point on the way home, I whispered this to Mike. I honestly don't remember his response, if any. I'm telling you, this really shook my world. My gut reaction was fine, you wanna do that to somebody, we can do that to you. Evil momma that I am, I was totally plotting the ultimate "I'll teach you to write on somebody else's face." But Mike brought me to my senses...that really wouldn't do much, other than make people feel sorry for the poor little girl whose momma wrote "I am weird" on her forehead. Yeah, thinking about it like that, well, you know. So, in the end, we settled on WWJD (what would Jesus do)? How can you go wrong with that?
As far as walloping the other boy across the face, well, that one was a little less emotional for me. Apparently, and he admitted this to the counselor, he was ahead of Abby and another kid on the slide. He was trying to grab Abby and drag her down the slide with him (remember, another kid in between them). He wouldn't listen to Abby telling him to stop, so she walloped him. I'm the last one to promote physical violence, but I can see how she didn't feel like she had much of a choice. Of course, we talked about keeping our hands to ourselves.
Her behavior really didn't improve much at all over the course of the weekend, except in small spurts where it appeared she was behaving in the hopes of something good. It all came to a head on Sunday afternoon and I probably went too far (combination of guilt/threats/ignoring) but I'd reached my limit and something had to give. But (please Lord, don't let me jinx all of the progress by admitting it), each day since has been almost blissful. We're not having battles first thing in the morning on getting up, getting dressed (and what to wear), what's for breakfast, shoes (my girl loves flip-flops...even in 35 degree rain), lunch, getting into the car...you get the picture. I'm getting polite requests. I'm getting real responses instead of blanket "nothings" when I ask how school was today. She's not even fighting about taking a shower or going to bed. I'm telling you, it's like a whole new world.
Obviously, I know parenting isn't easy for anyone. I even realize that while some of my friends make parenting look like a total breeze, they have their own struggles that I'm never privvy to or aware of. The grass always looks greener, but you never know how much fertilizer and green spray paint your neighbor uses on that other side of the fence :-)
So, this morning, as I dropped her off at the Y, we had that same conversation again. But this time, her reply was, "Yes ma'am." Fingers crossed...it's 1:11pm and I haven't received any phone calls (yet).