From Zero to Grounded in 10 minutes flat
I’ve always been a somewhat strict parent. Perhaps overcompensating for my mother not really being around very much in my formative years. Or perhaps just my being wound a little bit tighter – or maybe because… well, actually there are probably atleast a dozen reasons why I’m strict. But I don’t really want to psychoanalyze myself today. Because today, I’ve realized that my daughter – the daughter with whom I’ve spent over a decade (okay, now I feel old) trying to build a loving and supportive relationship with, has vanished. In her place is a creature that looks kinda like her, but personality-wise has more in common with a pirrahna than my lovely daughter. Or a venus fly trap. Or maybe a land mine. Actually, the land mine is probably best. Except that it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. Just because it’s exploded once recently, doesn’t mean it’s safe to touch again! Like some sadistic video game, where the only way through it is to walk over the trap, and every time you walk over the trap it explodes and sends you back to the beginning of the level again, where you have to walk across this trap, which explodes… You get the point.
For instance, today on the drive home from school – where in less than ten minutes, DD managed to find herself grounded until next week. Actually, hang on – let me backtrack. It actually started yesterday morning…
Yesterday, during our morning drive to school and BART, Mr. Man brought up how he would like to play horseshoes – or maybe croquet in our yard once the weather warmed up. Now – in fairness, I’m not terribly interested in playing croquet either, but DD’s reaction was, shall we say, less than desirable. I don’t remember everything she said but I do remember it started with some quips about Stephen King’s The Shining and ended with her comparing it to golf with big clubs, and all the while she appeared to be completely clueless to the fact that she was being incredibly rude to Mr. Man, who was getting more and more frustrated with her. If she’d been paying the slightest amount of attention she would have realized that it obviously was important to him and that she was (badly) mishandling the situation. Although Mr. Man wasn’t helping either, as his reaction to her little self-indulgent attitude came very close to the “over” reaction line.
Since we dropped her off at school first, I made a stab at trying to talk to Mr. Man about his (over) reaction to her little teen ‘tude-fest. But she’d managed to so completely wind him up that I wasn’t able to get very far with that before we got to the BART. Which is no mean feat, actually. Mr. Man is usually one of the most calm and even tempered people I’ve ever met. Having not gotten very far in that endeavor, I opted to confront DD after school and get her to see reason instead – thinking that perhaps if she apologized for being a little poopy-head, then maybe Mr. Man might apologize for over reacting, and everyone could be happy again.
So for about an hour, I go round and round and round with her. Trying to explain why it’s important not to disregard someones feelings and how even if you are not interested in something you should be polite and how she should pick up on verbal ques and recognize when someone really cares about something and yadda yadda yadda. Her defense? Well he overreacted too. And Croquet is stupid, so there. When I FINALLY managed to get through her thicker-than-thick skull that she was, actually, in the wrong (the shock! the horror!) she STILL didn’t see why she should apologize to him, since he was in the wrong, too. At this point, I lost patience with the discussion and told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to make good with her Papa, it was the right thing to do, it wasn’t a big deal, she needed to do it and that was all there was to it. When she continued to argue past that point, I told her fine. She didn’t have to apologize if she didn’t want to. But she was grounded* until such time as she did. (Which went over well, let me assure you.)
*A little caveat about grounding. I hate grounding her. I honestly believe that the only person who hates her being grounded more than she does, is me. Underneath my strict exterior is a warm, gooey, softy interior that really, really hates to punish her – especially grounding, since it means that not only does she not get to do fun things, but I can’t do fun things WITH her.
Fast forward a few hours to evening. I’m laying down in the bedroom, working on the second Anita Blake book (I blame you Crystal!). At some point, Mr. Man comes in and there’s the sleeping and the getting up and the morning-which-always-comes-too-early, etc. Which brings us to this afternoon. I pick up DD from school and, in retrospect I probably should have scented the coming storm on the wind – the cursory answers to my gentle inquiries about her day – the snide way she made a comment about someone we drove past, but I wasn’t really paying close attention – since I was busy plotting how best to surprise her with the super-awesome Hollister Jacket I’d picked up for her from the Mall after returning the holiday gifts that she didn’t like/want.
I’m not sure what it was – but something reminded me to ask about making things right with Mr. Man. So I asked her if she got everything sorted out with Papa. “I think so.”
My eyebrows raise – “you think so? You talked to him about croquet?”
“Oh, I’m not sure.”
“You’re not sure?” Incredulous.
“I don’t know”
“Well you either did or you didn’t.” Getting annoyed.
“I don’t remember.”
“What do you mean you don’t remember?” Definitely annoyed.
“I don’t remember!”
“Well, you either did or you didn’t. If you don’t remember then you probably didn’t!” Annoyed and well on my way to frustrated.
“Well I guess I didn’t then!”
Pause and remember the grounding. Uh oh. Sigh. “Did you watch TV last night?”
“I watched Papa playing Video Games.”
“So you watched TV.”
“When you were grounded.”
Now – if she had not been such a little poopy-head with the whole “I-don’t-know-I-don’t-remember” bull, this might have gone a little differently. Because, as I said, I really really really hate grounding her. REALLY. But she was, she did, and I’ll be honest – I was frustrated. “Okay – well, since you watched television while you were grounded, you’re going to get ungrounded tomorrow. Assuming you talk to Papa tonight of course.” I think I was being fair. One evening for one evening – especially since she wasn’t even going to be able to talk to Mr. Man until he got home from work anyways, and tomorrow morning would mean that she could still maybe have a friend over on Saturday or whatever – it was still plenty of time to have a good weekend.
Of course, that was all in my head in the second or two before the volcano exploded. “WHAT! THAT’S NOT FAIR! I FORGOT! YOU CAN’T GROUND ME FOR FORGETTING” and on and on and on. I point out that it’s her responsibility to remember. At which point she starts to blame ME for not reminding her. First by just blaming for not reminding her and then in the guilt trip way of “well if you really wanted me to make up with Papa” way. I was unmoved by either. My hopes of her being quickly ungrounded the next day were fast evaporating.
Then comes the she-shouldn’t-have-to-apologize-anyways-because-papa-was-in-the-wrong-too argument. And the best part? Her fevered, frustrated and upset adolescent mind seems to have forgotten half the conversation from the previous day. The half that came out of my mouth, of course, not her half. She starts insisting that I said that Papa was in the right and that she should apologize because Papa was in the right and how I never ever take her side and OMG the DRAHMAH! When the truth is, I never said he was in the right (although I didn’t say that he was in the wrong either – we’re still parents and whether or not I agree with how he handled the situation, we’ve got to back each other up) .
Keep in mind, by the way – that this entire conversation took place in the time it took for us to drive the two or so miles from her school to our house. So yeah, as we pull up in to the driveway she’s saying that last little bit. And that loud boom you just heard? Yeah, that was the nuclear explosion in my head. I raise my voice and tell her in no uncertain terms that I shor’-as-hell-did-NOT-say-that. So much for unveiling surprise-coats-from-hollister anytime soon. Sigh. She grabs her backpack and storms in to the house, yelling at me for being unfair, not listening, causing cancer and killing puppies, etc… Double Sigh.
Still hoping against hope that I’m not going to have to ground her for longer than the one evening. I grab the bags in the trunk and make my way inside. In my best firm-and-slightly-raised-but-not-yelling-voice, I tell her in no uncertain terms that if she ever storms off in the middle of a conversation like that again that she will be on full lockdown* grounding for a week.
*We have two types of grounding – type 1 is your basic no electronics, phone, or friends. Type 2 is where there is no Dana, only Zuul. It’s type 1 + all chores or parent designated activites, all the time.
This warning was my one, last, great hope for getting out of this situation without having to go any further. Unfortunately, the next thing out of her mouth burned that last hope to a cinder. “Well, I don’t know why you don’t remember telling me that Papa was right and I was wrong – you’re either a liar or your having mental issues.”
And I’m done. Thats it. In ten minutes flat she went from kinda-being-grounded-until-Papa-got-home to full-lockdown-level-2-grounded for a week. I think that might be a new world record.