Listen girl. I love you, but I need you to think about some things.
#1. You might feel like you are little, but you have a lot of power. If you treat someone well, they feel good; if you treat somebody not as well, they might not feel as good. You have a lot of control over what comes out of your mouth. I want you to realize that everything you do has an impact on someone else. You are very blessed to have a Mommy who does not yell very often. So don’t you go yelling at me. That is why I was very upset with you this morning. I am not so enlightened that I can listen to whining and yelling and respond like Mother Teresa. I can get stuck in instinctual reaction too. Maybe I didn’t yell, but you sure noticed when I stopped answering you or speaking to you. New rule: you are not allowed to treat people like how you did this morning. I am not your employee. (And I hope you wouldn’t treat an employee that way either.)
#2. You are not helpless. A little baby has to have everything done for them, but when you are 8 years old, you don’t have to have everything done for you. Things like buying you clothes and food, you still need help with, but things like getting dressed or eating is all you. If you need help with those things, it’s as if someone is doing you a favor. You have to ask nicely and then when they do help you, you have to be appreciative and say “Thank you. I really appreciate your help.” It’s not just a given. You can’t just sit in your room and shout and whine and growl, “Hey! Help me! Come ON!” That’s not how it works. Think of it as if you are requesting someone to do something for you so you have to ask nicely. Even if they are the person who knows you best in the whole entire world. Do you see me ordering Daddy around? Nope. I ask for his help courteously and politely. Even though we vowed to love and care for each other 15 years ago, I don’t go expecting anything and we appreciate each thing the other does. Similarly, just because I brought you into this world does not mean I have to cut the crusts off your peanut butter sandwiches. 🙂
#3. We have a way that you and I have worked out as our morning routine. You don’t like it when we deviate from our routine, like if I don’t wake you up at the right time or I don’t give you your milk first thing, you get really upset, right? I also feel that way. I expect you to get dressed and not be mean! So when you deviate from that, I also don’t know what to do. I’m sort of thinking, “Woah, where did this person come from?”
I am tired… I just woke up for you and am making lunch for you. I am taking care of you and it’s like I am doing you a favor. You could be like that boy we see who gets himself dressed and walks himself to school. Everything I do I hope you’ll be appreciative of. Just like when you make me a card, I appreciate that because you didn’t have to do that. Think of it like this: “I don’t expect Mommy to do anything for me, so anything she does (on top of nothing) is bonus for me and thank you so much!”
And that should be true for everybody… your teachers coming to school to give you new skills and knowledge… thank you so much! I guarantee they are doing much more than their job description and I know they don’t get paid very much. Someone coming to your birthday party or someone going out of their way to do something for you… thank you so much! Try to think of it as if every single thing that happens is bonus because you’re fine without any of it.
You can handle these things. We are together as a family and we will always take care of each other, but you’re fine on your own too. You’re awesome all my yourself. You still need some help because you’re 8, not 28, and we are here to help you. But I need you to think of all the things you are capable of on your own, and everything else is “awesome… thank you so much.”
#4. Many of the things I volunteer to do outside of being your mom are still related to being your mom. Things like being the Brownie troop leader is something I am doing because I want you to be in Girl Scouts and learn responsibility, how to be a good friend, and how to take care of the earth. Being the cookie mom is also for you as well as the entire troop. Why do you think I would offer to stare at these Excel charts and make sense of all the sales numbers? It is important to me that you girls learn business skills, confidence, and customer relations. I play guitar at religious school because I want you to learn the songs and I want everyone to have the opportunity to learn the prayers.
I volunteer at your school because I want it to be a good environment for you. I chair the book fair because I want there to be new books in the library for you and all of the other kids. I wouldn’t just pick a random school and go lead their book fair! It’s is all in relation to you. Yes, I enjoy all these activities as well and yes, I do get satisfaction from doing a good job, but primarily I am doing them because of you.
When you are not appreciative of the countless hours and personal effort that I spend on these activities, I take it personally because I feel that you are not appreciating that fact that I am doing them partially for YOU. When you misbehave or don’t listen to rules at a Brownie meeting or can’t walk to your religious school class with everyone else, I think about throwing in the towel and not helping. I don’t think you mean for that to happen.
Do you understand, sweet girl? Please try to think outside of yourself. I realize that is difficult to do, especially when you don’t have more life experience. We will work on this together. I will probably start being annoying about this now as I try to point out these things more and more often. Please try not to roll your eyes.
I love you,