I'm not a strict mother, by most standards. I'm haphazard about mealtimes, lackadaisical about clean faces all the time. I'm easy going about outfits - Sam buttoned his own shirt for services at the synagogue last week, and did an abysmal job. But he was delighted with it, and so proud, I couldn't bring myself to rain on his parade, so I told him he looked great and off we went. I like to think I'm a "pick your battles" sort of mom, and unless it's going to harm them, I'm willing to let my kids make the choice. Whatever that choice might be.
But I'm hard core about school. My pretty little Jessica celebrated her ninth birthday yesterday in what had to be the single longest expedition to the mall I've ever taken. Marc and I are not shoppers, either one of us. Plus we're on a pretty tight budget, and discretionary trips to the mall aren't really factored in. But it was her birthday, and our tradition is that the birthday girl (or boy) gets to pick their favorite restaurant for dinner. And she chose the food court at the Solomon Pond Mall. Since I knew that asking her to go to the mall and then just eat and leave would be way too hard, I actually took all three of my kids down after school got out, and Marc met us there after work with Lilli and Sarah.
We had a delightful time, really. The kids were great, everyone loved it, and we didn't get home until nine o'clock. Sam fell asleep in the car, and stayed asleep, so he was fine. Julianna fell asleep, woke back up and didn't go back down until close to eleven. But what with her being a toddler and the ability to take a three hour nap the next day, I wasn't too concerned. But, oh, my Jessie. She was vibrating with energy, laughing so hard she couldn't stop. She was so hyper and happy and just thrilled to betsy, she didn't fall asleep until midnight.
As you can imagine - this morning was nothing I'd want to repeat. She was exhausted, and epically miserable. But you don't get to stay up all night and then blow off school the next day. Sorry. You go to school. Follow thru and committment. If you're supposed to be in school, you go to school. Being tired is not an excuse, and next time you'll know that staying up that late means that you'll have a very hard time the next morning.
So she went to school. And she was furious and sobbing and exhausted, and I was resolute and unyielding. Natural consequences. I tried to get her to settle down, tried to convince her of the wisdom of laying down and relaxing - but she didn't want to. But I think that it did register this morning. I told her on the way in that I didn't want her to be exhausted and miserable, but she was too old for me to force her to sleep now. I can force Julie to sleep, just by laying her down and not letting her up, but Jessie is nine. She's old enough to make that decision, and live with the consequences. And I'd rather she learn the lesson now than when she's in her twenties and stayed out too late partying and then blows off work the next day and gets fired.
She had calmed down by the time we got to school, and kissed me goodbye cheerfully enough. But even though I did the right thing, and I know that - I've still spent all day feeling awful and second guessing myself.