Michaela has been having difficulty lately getting ready for the bus on time. We have very clear expectations of what has to be done in the morning, what time she has to be ready, and the consequences if she is not ready in time. Our consequence plan fell apart after Christmas: losing tv for the day is just not a big deal is you have a Wii to play instead. So a few weeks ago, we restructured things so she loses the Wii AND tv AND dessert after dinner if she is not ready on time (soooo Draconian, I know).
Last Friday she missed her deadline in the morning and when she came off the bus in the afternoon, she begged me to have her friend Kaitlin over for a playdate. I told her no, calmly explained why, and she burst into tears. Then I told her she lost her Wii and tv and dessert. And she cried harder. And looked horrifically bereft. I reminded her gently that the rules are very clear. She cried, hugged me, and sounded like her heart was breaking.
And of course my heart was breaking, too. Being a disciplinarian is hard. Following through is hard. Knowing that you could take it all back and stop them from crying is so tempting... but you know it's not the right thing to do.
So there we sat in the kitchen, Michaela crying and I holding on to her, and I realized this is the bond, the unbreakable bond, you have with your first born: you are both going through this process kind of blind and just holding on to each other and hoping it turns out okay. Michaela's never been seven before. I've never been in charge before. By the time Jenna gets to this point, I'll be old hat at this discipline thing, confident that my methods are effective and knowing better what to do having dealt with all the situations that Michaela has thrown at me.
No, it's different with your first born. You grow together, learn together, make mistakes together, celebrate first-time victories together and love each other like crazy.
Which is good, because you come awfully close to killing each other.