Friday, March 13, 2009

In Which EM Loses Her Shit, And I Lose My Cool

EM lost her ipod last night. That’s her Nintendo DS and her ipod gone within just a few weeks of each other.

I’m furious. I’m shocked and disappointed that she should be so careless. But mostly—right now—I’m just plain pissed off.

The rules were she was never to take either gadget out of the house unless we were going to Farmor’s, or Tante Hildegunn’s, or the cabin—somewhere where I could control where they were and what she was doing with them. Never to school. Never to a friend’s house. And certainly, never to a restaurant, or to art class.

They were clear rules. She understood them. She agreed to them. After she lost three Nintendo games at Mathias’s house during a sleep over, I stopped allowing exceptions to the rules—ever—and eventually she stopped asking.

I believed her at first when she told me that—no, she hadn’t taken the Nintendo anywhere, she’d just misplaced it in the house somewhere. I methodically searched for it for two weeks. I literally gutted her room. I tore apart the toy room. I emptied every drawer in the house, twice. I frisked every pocket and handbag I could find. Still no Nintendo.

Up until this morning’s tearful admission about the missing ipod I was willing to say to myself, “How strange! How very vexing!” And assume I’d stumble across the Nintendo under a pile of towels or something sometime in the very near future. I no longer believe this. After this morning, I’d be a fool to believe in such innocence anymore.

I asked several times during my search if it were possible that the Nintendo wasn’t in the house anymore, if she had perhaps taken it somewhere, and forgotten? Maybe? “Oh no, it’s here” she insisted, “It’s here. It must be here.”

Outrageous, bald-faced lies! And I have no idea how to deal with it, address it, punish it constructively, yet thoroughly enough that she finally gets it. You have to take care of your shit!

She took the ipod to her art class yesterday. When I saw it in the car—when she saw that I had seen it—she hastened to explain, “I know. I know. But I’m only going to listen to it in the car. I’m not going to take it to class with me.”

“It stays in the car!” I stressed, wagging my best mommy finger at her.

“It stays in the car,” she dutifully repeated, and I left it at that.  I gave her the bloody benefit of the doubt.

I never saw it again after that, but this morning she swore up and down with splotchy red face, and fat guilty tears streaming down her cheeks that it did, indeed, stay in the car during art class.  That it was in the pizza place after the art class that the damn thing went missing.

“WHY was it even IN the pizza place?”

“I thought I’d listen to it while we waited for the pizza.”

“I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE IT IN THE CAR!”

“I know.”

I sent her out of the house then. Pushed her out in the rain five minutes early so I didn’t start fuckidy fuck fuck fucking stupid idiotic careless thoughtless thankless little wretch-ing her right to her face.

Or maybe I should have let her hear it. Maybe then she’d finally get it. Because she needs to get it, ya’ll. I need her to understand that I’m well beyond piqued at this point. I’m a vengeful, malevolent fury.  And honey, I’m out for payback.

I must have lost things as a kid. Kids lose things. I get that. But I don’t remember ever being this careless with what you might call the pricier items among my various possessions. Then again—did I even have any high ticket toys? I had a Walkman. Everyone had a Walkman. You tell me mom—did I ever lose it? Did I ever lose anything so valuable that you wanted to thrash me senseless with a wire hanger just to teach me a much deserved lesson in the value of a hard earned dollar?

Not that I’m going to do that, of course. Aside from the legal ramifications, I’m not sure I even have a wire hanger anywhere in the house. And, let’s face it, a cheap plastic IKEA hanger just wouldn’t produce a chilling enough THWICK to get my point across.

So I’m wrestling here with legal appropriate punishments to inflict upon her. Certainly I will not be replacing the lost items. EVER. And I already made her go with her class to the China exhibit in town instead of meeting for her scheduled appointment with the orthodontist to have her retainer removed.

HA!

We discovered that little scheduling conflict early yesterday afternoon. She had said she would rather skip the field trip to get the dread retainer taken out, and I was willing to go along with that plan because I know how much she’s been looking forward to getting rid of the thing. But during this morning’s drama I had the great pleasure of sneering, “And you’re going to town today. The retainer stays!”  Much wailing and carrying-on followed this pronouncement. It was great. Very satisfying. But I’m still not convinced that she’s absorbed the full extent of my wrath.

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that money and things, specifically, things that cost money, mean nothing to any of my children. And I’ve got to do something to fix this sorry state of affairs.

Do you think maybe it's because I don't work?  That because I get money from a machine in the wall for doing ostensibly (in their eyes) nothing, they think it's basically a limitless font from which all things endlessly flow?  Of course we've explained to them that the money comes from all the hard work daddy does, that his job is to earn the money, and my job is to take care of the house and the family.  But maybe they're just not getting it.

Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with money at all.  Maybe I'm expecting too much of them to understand and appreciate in anyway the price of the things we buy them.  Maybe I should just stop buying them things altogether.  Make them buy it all themselves with money they earn and save on their own initiative.  But is that really fair when all of their spoiled rotten friends are drowning in endless piles of things.  And how is it these spoiled rotten friends manage to keep track of all their endless piles of things but my kids manage to lose EVERYTHING?  From whence do these caring for skills come?  How are they taught?

The kids just got home from school a few minutes ago.  EM asked if I had called the pizza place to ask if they had found the ipod.  I had.  They hadn't.  We got into it again.  She started crying again, "So it's gone for ever?"

"Yeah.  Pretty much." 

Boy chimed in:  "Mom, I have two things to say to you."

"What's that Boy."

"One--I once lost something I loved.  Two--and that was my baby scorpie.  Don't be mad."

10 comments:

Trace said...

I can hear your "inner voice" from here as I read this as though you were telling the story right to me! I know surely one day I will go through something like it as well. I will also strive to make you proud by eminating your intense verbal reaction whence said time does occur! :)

I cut one of my very long ponytails off once and handed it to my mom when I was seven. Didn't go over so well. I wasn't ever spanked, but a swat with a hairbrush to the thigh I received that day and I remember it quite well! Her loss will stay with her and eat her up and it will be a lesson achingly learned.

Nita said...

Did you, Mark or Brandi lose things of course you did. To all of you they were just toys, you may have been told not to take them any where but in your eyes they were just your toys that you wanted to show your friends. Of course now days toys are much more expensive but to Emma they are toys, Should there be consequences for losing them yes of course but at 8 can you understand the value of money I'm not sure. Now on the other hand Stan lost his cell phone last week and I was pissed as hell, the trouble of replacing it, the expense, did he not understand.

Queen LaTeacha said...

Take a chill pill. She's 8. I have to agree with Nita. They're just toys to her. Let her earn the money for a replacement so she'll have some clue how much money it takes.

You didn't so much lose "things" when you were a kid, but you definitely didn't take good care of your "stuff".

Lay down the law, but do it without being pissed. If I remember you at age 8 or 9, you would've stuck to the I-didn't-take-it-anywhere story until the cows came home. At lease she fessed up at some point.

Batgirl said...

Hmm. I'm not sure, but I get the feeling that maybe she's not lost everything. It sounds a lot like when I was a kid, and you ended up losing your stuff to a bully, or giving it to a new friend to please them. Sometimes we even gamled our stuff away (innocent gambling, no money involved), and I know in my own case, I'd rather have my mom yell at me for losing something, rather than telling her I gave it away. Kid logic. Then again, it could be just like my nephew, whose iPod was found a while later by the neighbour's kids outside in the garden (they'd kept it, not telling their parents until they saw them using it).

JEDA said...

Nita--it is a good point, that to her these things are just toys, not any more or less special than all of her other toys. But we had laid these very concrete set of rules around these two particular toys, and it really bothers me that she completely disregarded those rules. Funny about Dad losing his phone. I hope you read him the riot act, then sent him to his room to think long and hard about his carelessness.

Mother--are you trying to insinuate that I was a liar? Me? NEVER! Golden, I was. Perfect! Which is why it pains me so to have given birth to such imperfect creatures. You must strive to be more....constructive in your comments, more...I don't know...verbose.....Tracy's got the idea....

Thank you Trace. I believe that was a compliment. I appreciate your thoughts. Also, when your time does come, and you do get to yell at Zoe for losing her shit, remember not to use your "inner voice" (or mine for that matter). It's far too quite, no way will that put the fear of God in her.

Batgirl--I do half hope that that's the case with her Nintendo. That she's taken it to school or a friend's house and it's been, shall we say, misappropriated somehow. So there is a chance it will show up again eventually. The ipod though, I'm pretty certain was a case of shear carelessness. It fell out of her pocket somewhere between the car and pizza place, and that's that. A very expensive lesson learned, but I'm cautiously optimistic that she's finally learned something here.

jillybaby said...

I have a few different views on this and I can only use my only offspring to compare.

Heather once her soft dolly on a flight (I'm sure you remember). She was beyond devastated as she'd slept with soft dolly every day since birth. The dolly has since been replaced (thanks Lana) but a hard lesson was learned that day. Both my kids are so fearful of losing their prized possessions that they refuse to take them out of the house.

When the school asked Hamish's class to bring a favourite teddy into school, Hamish took one of his least favourite as the thought of losing his beloved 'Teddy' was too much to bear (bear...you see what I did there).

Anyhoo, back to the ipod. Heather has had an ipod for just over a year now without losing it. Mostly she keeps it at home but on the rare occasion she takes it out, she keeps it in a hard case attached to a lanyard which she wears round her neck. A simple solution but very effective.

On the punishment issue, I agree she should be taught a lesson and a tough one at that. My suggestion would be to take something she really cherishes and somehow 'lose' it (for a few days anyway). What if her Doko disappeared under a pile of her crap for a week or so. Maybe then she might learn to take better care of her things? Just a thought.

Oh and just one other thing. Yes she's 8 but she's also entrusted to ride on a public bus by herself so I would say she's more than capable of looking after her shit.

Anonymous said...

Emma had an Ipod?? Nintendo I understand, but an Ipod?? I would lose my merde if Hanna lost her Nintendo (we didn't buy it for her but the time effort of finding and downloading games for her makes it seem like we did), or her cell phone (which is justified as a tracking device).

Do you need a valium, cause I got some spare..:)


ME:)

Guitar said...

Take a deep breth. SHIT HAPPENS!
It did when you were a kid, and it still does. This can be a good learning tool. Don't make it a whipping tool.
She's a great kid.....

Stef said...

Patrick has BROKEN two DSs. The second was broken this weekend. I "hear" you totally. His punishment is that we will not replace it this time and it IS his favorite thing. And now he is without it.

Tif said...

Oh, how I can relate. Last week? The boy lost his Cub Scout book AGAIN, broke another backpack, left his new hiking boots outside overnight by the trampoline AND told me he needed new shoes since his lace was tied in a knot on one of his tennis shoes (like it's easier to buy new shoes than un-do a knot!!!).

Seriously, do they think I can just pull money out of my ass?!?

I was mumbling to myself for days, "Spoiled rotten little ingrates! I'll show you new shoes. You can buy yourself some new shoes with money you earn doing hard labor around this house which you never help with! New shoes!?!"

This was said to my husband re: the aforementioned Scout book, "They can give me that damn award when he 'earns' it because I'm the one that did all the work!" To which he just stared at me and I realized that the only one who cares that his Cub Scout book is gone is me. I'm the only one that cares if he earns his Weebelo whatever it is. Even my husband, who ironically is the Scoutmaster, doesn't seem to care.

Ugggg, I feel your pain!!!