Last week I forgot that I was a Buddhist.
Instead of being an impassioned, detached observer, I lost my head and thought I could control things. All I had to do was post lists of rules, yell a lot, and keep my nagging at a constant and steady rate.
Have you ever lived with a twelve-year-old boy? I know many of you reading this have, and so you have felt my pain. Try getting a twelve-year-old out of bed in the morning, especially one who spent the summer sleeping until noon. Try getting him fed, clothed and into the car by 7:40. Try making him floss his teeth.
Oh, Lord, try making that child floss his teeth.
Well, I tried. I nagged. I lost it. And then I gave up. Here's what I have had to tell myself: I can't make Jack happy. I can't make him organized. I can make him turn off his lights at night, but I can't actually make him fall asleep.
What I can do is make him suffer. Er, I mean make him suffer the consequences of his own actions. If he oversleeps, he gets to school late. If he doesn't do his homework, he'll get bad grades. If he gets bad grades, his computer will be taken away from him until his grades come up.
My problem is that I'm afraid. I'm afraid my very bright twelve-year-old son will end up living in a basement apartment with stained wall-to-wall carpet, surviving on bowls of dry cornflakes. The only light will be from the glow of his computer, where he spends all his waking hours playing World of Warcraft. He never bathes, and his breath is so toxic moths who get too close flutter to their deaths.
You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I really fear this.
Still, what I know for sure is that nagging doesn't really work in the long run, and yelling doesn't do a thing but make everybody upset. I yelled at Jack on Monday, and it ruined the rest of the day for both of us. So no more yelling, no more nagging.
That's why, when Jack was doing his French homework in the car this morning, even though he'd told me last night he'd finished all of his homework, I didn't say a word. Didn't mention that children who want to go to Harvard (which is where Jack says he wants to go) tend to get their homework on time and do the extra credit. I didn't take away his computer time or threaten to throw his iPod out the window.
I just drove calmly on and, loving mother that I am, hoped he wouldn't finish it in time.
Let his French teacher nag him. Me, I'm done with all that.
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