This is THE day this week that I do not have school-related things on either side of my work day, and it’s bliss.
Last night, I had 20 people in my house. TWENTY! We all sat in my dining room. This dining room:
How? I’m not sure. We have 8 dining room chairs, 4 kitchen island chairs, my office chair, Mouse’s desk chair, 2 desk chairs in Lemon’s room, plus 6 deck chairs. So we made a BIG circle around the table, and it worked.
The meeting was of fellow parents in Mouse’s grade. I’m a huge proponent of what we’ve deemed our “Parenting Exchange.” The entire grade is invited to each meeting, which we have every 6 weeks. The meetings are relatively formal – we have topics chosen ahead of time, and we have a facilitator (just a parent – rotates around the group) who keeps things on track, both topic- and time-wise. We really only use the meeting to check in on what other kids are doing, what other parents are wrestling with, how honest are kids are being when they pull out the inevitable “but all my friends are allowed to!”
We started when they were in 6th grade, and the town started having dances, the kids started asking if they could walk further and alone (our town is conducive to that), the homework started to get harder, etc.
There are some parents who never miss, but others come only occasionally, and others still have been only once. It doesn’t matter – we still invite everyone every time.
I find it invaluable not only because of the actual conversation or things learned, and not only because of the connections that we truly do make with other parents that we might otherwise not — but because our kids watch us. They know they do this. They know we talk. I don’t only talk to my friends – I talk to my entire community. So if they want to skip a class and wander around our village with their friends – they can’t think “pfft, mom’s at work, she’ll never find out.” They have to worry about EVERY mom. EVERY dad (we often have as many dads as moms, by the way). That is my favorite part.
And my kids aren’t even sneaky.
But having 20 people over made for an insane day. I left work early to come home and prep the house. WD pitched in x10 (as usual), so I didn’t need as much time as I took. We also had to find Mouse a place to go, because that is one of our “rules” – the kids should not be home when we meet (so they don’t learn things they have no business knowing).
After everyone left – by 9:15, I had to fight with one of my children. Because life’s not complete without at least one argument per day when living with 2 teens.
I asked Mouse to find a place to go from 7:00 – 8:30. We have friends who live steps away in 4 different directions. Literally steps. Literally across our small street in 2 directions, plus around a very short block corner.
But what does she do? Knowing she has (a) homework, and (b) the messiest room in the universe that MUST be clean by Thursday a.m.? She makes plans with a friend who lives the furthest away, starting right after school. WD negotiated with her for some time after school – reminding her that if she hangs out all day long, using “Mom said I have to go somewhere” as the excuse, she’d have to come home straight after school tomorrow to clean her room and do homework, and she’d have to clean her room that evening, even though it means she cannot watch Glee. She said, “Awww. But okay.”
Guess what the fight was about?
Not so much that she could not watch Glee, but more that Lemon and I were daring to watch it anyway!!
What??!! That’s not fair! You never watched it with ME last year when SHE couldn’t!
But that was because she was doing her homework, not hanging out with friends. You made your choice.
It’s not because I was hanging out with friends! It’s because YOU are making me CLEAN MY ROOM!!
See how I made her letters red? To convey her anger?
We also had a lot of bickering about the meaning of the word “grounded.” Saying that she has to clean her room by Thursday (housecleaning day), and that she has to be in the house in order to clean her room, does not mean she is grounded.
Yes it does! because I can’t go anywhere! That’s being GROUNDED!
No, that’s telling you that you need to clean your room. Which is in your house. If you finish at 3:30, you can do something else.
What am I going to do at 3:30? There’s nothing to DO at 3:30!!!
Fortunately, she finished off her hissy fit with lots of energy that she put toward cleaning her room!
If only she skipped the hissy fit. It would have been nice.
Although I did feel bad for her, because (a) Glee featured a song from her play this year – the song she auditioned with (Anything Goes), and (b) her sister, out of habit, hit the “delete” button on the DVR when we finished watching. Oops. Thank god for Hulu.