I figure I'm going to get a rise out of some of you but, enh, who cares? Tough love is something I have to employ with my eleven year old all the time. She's a challenge. J is a first born. She's alpha and she's stubborn. J can be willful, obstinate, argumentative, and moody. She's also has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and my metabolism rate which you wouldn't think could go hand in hand.
J is incredibly intelligent too. J was walking at ten months and speaking in full sentences before her first birthday. At one and a half I watched her use the microwave to heat a sippie cup of milk, then shake it before she took a sip. She knew how to work the television and the VCR and she knew exactly how to use her big blue eyes and pixie grin to get what she wanted. She's funny and her sense of humor has always exceeded her age group often surprising nearby adults with her insight. J can out debate you if given a chance. Often her ideas make a lot of sense and may actually better than yours.
For example, "J, time for bed. Please go brush your teeth and come get hugs for bed." "If I brush my teeth and clean up first, will you read me a bedtime story?" (mom thinks. Hmm. No, it's late and she's been pushing for extras all day. I do want her room clean but...) "No, brush your teeth and come for hugs." "If I brush my teeth, clean up and help P clean her room, will you read me a bedtime story?" (mom thinks. P is having trouble cleaning her room. J does a great job cleaning. It could be useful. I don't really mind reading her a story. Wait, no, J needs to go to bed.) "No, J. I said brush your teeth. It's very late. Go." "Mom if I---" "Stop right there." This is a frequent occurrence, by the way.
J is my challenge kid. She is also a delight and because her mom (that would be me) won't tolerate disobedience or rudeness, she is a very good kid. She might not be thrilled if told to do something she doesn't want to, but she will do it because I said it. Having said that, once she decides she doesn't like something, it is a dickens to get her to do it. Dogs make her freak out no matter the size. Bugs have her squealing. Different foods make her pout and push it around her plate with attitude worthy of an Emmy. New experiences have her stomping her feet. She doesn't jump into new groups easily or make friends with kids her age. J is a drama queen who could out drama most queens. Including clutching her chest as she runs across the field or throwing the back of her hand across her brow. (I think she does it to annoy me.)
It is this stubbornness and metabolism and difficulty making friends, are the reason I instituted a new rule in our house. J MUST take on a sport each season before she can say she doesn't like it. She has to go out for it, go to all the practices and games, COMMIT to giving it her all. If after that sport she doesn't want it again, fine. I posted this on my own blog and got all kinds of negative reactions. This is my kid. I'm not mean. I just know what she needs to get over herself.
The sport mandate is one she hates. Little sister P is thrilled to death (of course little P is also the kid that asks for fruits and veggies while turning down anything sugary. Not surprisingly, P is J's opposite at making friends and cheerfulness). Anyway, the sport mandate changed minutely. Why? Because as I suspected, once trying Basketball and Soccer, J loved it. I knew she would cause her brain works that way. At any rate, the new law of the land is, she may pick any sport she wishes to so long as she is doing a sport every season it is offered. This thrills her. Mostly because she was dreading track and field. I don't blame her.
J's grades have improved. Her peer group has expanded and she has new friends who don't treat her like crap. She is proud of herself. Both Scott and I attend all her games and most practices with her little sister in tow. And we always make her favorite dinner after games. But it is tough love.
I adore J. She's my first born and while of course I have equal feelings for P, my relationship with J is very, very different. She's my daughter and my friend. She's tough, not showing her inward feelings unless they spill over. She's stronger at 11 than I was as a teen and I have always, often unfairly, expected more from her than from P. She soothes her little sister. She cares for her and looks after me. It is odd to house both the panicked freak and the staid calm in a single person. But it happens.
As I mentioned yesterday, there are even occasions where spanking is in order. We have rules around that too. 10 swats if I have to find out about it, 5 if they tell me themselves. The bonus result her is that my kids tell on themselves ALL THE TIME, so I usually don't wind up spanking because of their honesty. Spanking only ever occurs when they lied or were in danger. I never spank angry and the above swat ranking applies. By the way, my kids are fully aware that I love them, it's the act I didn't like and they never fail to hug me after administering punishment. We hug, they apologize. I tell them I love them and not to repeat the act. They agree and don't repeat the behavior. As a result, I have spanked J once in the last year and a half. P, not at all. I'd call that a successful measure.
Okay, bring it on. Let's hear from all you people who think I'm wrong. I know you're out there.