Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Sometimes the hardest part of being a parent, is actually being a parent.

I am perfectly willing to admit that I am a softie. I have a really hard time disciplining my children because I hate to see them unhappy. But there are times when I am willing to let punishment slide a little, and times when I have to step up to the plate, be a good parent, and make the punishment stick because the safety of my children depends on it.

And my children seem determined to test my will here lately.

All three of my children spent the last week grounded from friends. We bought them airsoft guns when a local dealer went out of business and was clearancing the pistols for $1 each. We thought they would be fun to take up camping and shoot cans etc. We spent an entire weekend lecturing them on gun safety, don't ever point a gun at something you don't intend to kill, not even a toy gun, not even a bb gun, not even if it's "Not even loaded". B even showed them how you can shoot a bullet (aka BB) from an "Unloaded" gun (Boy you should have seen the shocked looks on their faces when he took the clip out and then fired a BB). We thought we had sufficiently made our point and that the boys would be responsible with their guns.

The next day, while I was in the shower, their friends came over to play. My boys "Just wanted to show them our guns" and snuck them out of the house. We had told them in no uncertain terms that these guns weren't for play, and you don't use them at home, ONLY camping, or when you go somewhere with dad to shoot them!

Well, apparently they weren't as convinced as we thought and they took the guns out and proceeded to shoot at each other and their friends. Let me tell you how fun it is to have your shower interupted by an irate mother banging on your front door to tell you that your son shot her son in the neck with a BB gun.

So I made my child go to two different neighbors and appologize. I was mortified! I was angry, no, I was FURIOUS! The boys lost their guns, and they were grounded from friends for a week.

Yesterday was their first day being ungrounded and I cautioned the boys to show me that they were capable of making good choices, because all evidence lately was to the contrary.

I had walked up the street to try to return a friend's book and as I walked home I watched this boy, my youngest off spring hop on his scooter and head down the hill. I then noticed that his two siblings and several of their friends were standing in a front yard across the street and instantly I knew what was going to happen, he was going to whip across the street without looking. He does it ALL THE TIME, and I am constantly lecturing him about it.

I started by calling his name, which he blithely ignored. I yelled louder, he didn't even look back. I then SCREAMED his name as a red jeep rolled past me on the street, and then froze in horror as he jumped off the sidewalk and crossed RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE JEEP!

Luck was with me, if I had not been standing on that sidewalk, if I had not SCREAMED his name, and the Jeep driver had not heard me scream and slam on his brakes before K even left the sidewalk, I am convinced he would have hit my son. As it was, there was less than three feet between my child and the front bumper of that jeep. I think my heart literally stopped beating for several seconds there as I stood there with my hand clamped over my mouth, and my eyes squeezed shut waiting for the sound of the impact of Jeep and boy.

My son, after glancing at the jeep with a shocked look on his face yelled "Sorry" and continued on across the street to his waiting friends. I yelled at him to "GET HIS BUTT HOME....NOW!!!!" and was totally dumbfounded when he couldn't even figure out why he was in trouble, he said sorry, like it was no big deal. I tried to explain to him how scary that was, that he could be DEAD right now, or at the very least in the hospital with broken bones and traumatic injury.

I tried to convey to him the severity of his actions and I am afraid to say he still doesn't get it. He doesn't understand that I could be planning his funeral today, that by sheer LUCK he walked away from this....again.

Several years ago, he rode his bike out into the road right in front of my friend's car. She came so very close to hitting him and was so upset when she pulled into my driveway that she was shaking so hard she could barely stand.

This child has no respect for rules, he has no appreciation for his own life and how fragile it is.

While I, his mother, am hyper aware. Maybe at one point in my life I would have believed that a child dying is some obscure thing that happens to some other person, a stranger, some friend of a friend of a friend. But I have had it brought very clear to me that children die, that accidents happen and that, though you never believe it will happen to you, it can, and it does!

That mothers plan funerals, and bury children, and spend the rest of their lives grieving and hurting. That every life is precious, and every second is a gift.

Someone please tell me how to make my child understand this. Because for the life of me, I can't figure it out.

I've lost one daughter, and a niece, and a cousin, and I know that does not exempt me from future loss. It only makes me so much more aware of the cost of the loss of a life.

So here I sit with a nine year old boy who is grounded to the yard, because I can't trust him to be responsible once he leaves it. Who is whining because none of his friends want to play here, they want to play at their house, and he has no one to play with whine whine whine. My response? I love you too much to unground you at this point pal. I love you too much to let you be careless with your life. I need you to be grounded until you can demonstrate to me that you understand how serious your mistake was, until you can be miserable enough that next time, you will THINK.

I don't know what to do about him. I'm scared.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh!! How scary!! I don't even have any words or advice. Just WOW, I'm sorry!!

Kelly said...

I just wanted to say that I really feel for you, This parenting gig can be really hard. Sending you a cyber hug from the other side of the world, from another mother, who has the same fears you do. xx