(a love letter to my 8 year old son)
There is a difference between “You are responsible for you and only you”, and “I am the Boss of You”. You are the only one who can make the choice whether to mind and follow the rules, but ultimately, I am the one who gets to decide what those rules are. I am the one who can force you to mind. I will use reason, and if that doesn’t work I will use consequences, and failing that, I will use ultimatums. Because I am your mother. I carried you and birthed you and I survived your colic and your projectile poo. I am still dealing with your bodily fluids to some degree, I am the one who feeds you and picks up after you and makes you feel better when you’re sick or sad or hurt. So yes, I get to decide what time you have to go to bed. I get to tell you that you must do your homework as soon as you get home from school. I get to make you clean up your room and learn to do your own laundry. Its my job. Eventually these decisions will be yours to make. Like when you’re finished school and capable of supporting yourself and NOT living in my basement. THEN you can stay up all night, wear dirty underwear, eat cheese whiz and ketchup sandwiches and use swear words. It won’t matter to me if you leave the house with every light on and the refrigerator door open. It’s my job right now to teach you that this is how life works. This is how you get enough sleep, this is how you get the right food, this is how you handle your responsibilities. When you’re on your own, that’s when you get to experiment. Get your electricity cut off. Get scurvy. Sleep through your alarm and be late for work. Tell someone to go fuck themselves and find out what that means and what happens when you talk to people like that. Your first girlfriend will ask you if you were raised by wolves, or in a barn or something and you’ll have to tell her “Actually, my mom would have kicked my ass for behaving like this”. You will know how to cook at least 10 different meals, and operate a vacuum cleaner and an iron and how to shop on a grocery budget. Maybe by then you will even be proficient at wiping your own ass! So it will be a choice to live like a pig. Right now though, and for the foreseeable future, we do things my way. So fight it if you like, but you need to accept the fact that I AM the goddamn boss of you. And even if you never suffer the urge to thank me, you’ll be glad for the skills. I promise.