Monday, November 15, 2004

Forgot That Rule

Crayon all over the beautiful walls greeted me when I entered Audrey’s room after her “nap.” Had she even slept? From the artwork on the walls, I was inclined to think not. I racked my brain to find the time where I had told her that she should never, ever color on the walls, and I found the moment it entered my mind to do so, but pushed aside with the thought that with 5 color books and 2 plain pads, what would she need with beautiful butter cream walls as her canvas? I tried to imagine what went through her mind when she drew line after line in color after color upon the wall above her bed. I can’t figure that she would actually think that coloring on the walls would be a good thing, something that I would be excited about.

This weekend I came to the realization that I have to be a different sort of parent, the kind I have been afraid to be. Growing up I had a hard, strict disciplinarian dad and a mom who tried to make up for his harshness with love and leniency. My mother could never understand why we wouldn’t listen to her like we listened to my dad, but we listened to my dad out of fear and we disobeyed her because we could. I vowed never to be the kind of parent my father was, though I never did anything wrong, and I ended up with scholarships and whatnot, it was a life of fear. I don’t want that for my children.

So I have been afraid to be stern with my daughter, to correct her when she is disrespectful or rude or even disobedient. I didn’t want to “squash her will.” But now her will is becoming larger than both of us. I don’t have to be like my dad, and I don’t have to be like my mom. I can find the happy medium and balance and get over the fear of making my daughter do something she doesn’t want to for fear that she will be upset. I am the parent; I am the boss. Now that I have figured that out, it is time she did too.

I was angry about those walls, and I punished her for it as visions of that recent episode of The Apprentice danced in my head. The contestants touted a new product by Mr. Clean that just happens to clean crayon off of walls. It was hard to be as upset when I knew that I could get it off. Thank God that I knew that I could get it off; otherwise my dad in me would have made a guest appearance.
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