I've always been a mean mom. I believe that my kids need to know that there are consequences to their actions and that life isn't fair. Otherwise, how will they grow to be well-adjusted adults? As a result, I have very well-behaved kids. I'm not always mean, but when the situation calls for it, I have no trouble rising to the occasion. I yell, I spank, I ground, I punish whenever necessary. But this week I'm having to do one of the hardest things I've ever had to do under the 'mean mom' banner.
Big Sister has been dancing since she was three, competitively since she was five. She's really good and she really, really loves it. Which is why when she failed her first class, I threatened that if she didn't get her grades under control she wouldn't be able to dance anymore. Certainly it would hit home at her core and instill just how important her school work was. Right? That was about this time last year at the end of fifth grade when she got her last report card and her first 'NI' grade. Because dance team try-outs happen at the end of the school year, it came with a "last-chance" since we were already contractually obligated for this year's dance team by then. Unfortunately, she must not have thought I was serious... because she has consistently failed to turn in her homework all year and has failed, literally, at least one class each semester - sometimes more than one. Now I'm faced with the hardest thing I've ever had to do: not let her try out for a team next year.
I found out yesterday that even though she's known for months, she hasn't told any of her friends on the team because she is so sad. And every time I think about not getting to see her do something she has such passion for and is so good at, I want to cry. But I refuse to give in. (Plus Hubby adamantly won't let me even if I had a moment of weakness. Not that I've had that many of them...) She's heading into Junior High and, if she couldn't find the balance between school and extra-curricular activities this year while still in elementary school, she has little chance of doing so when she's thrust into the insanity of seven different classes and seven different teachers with homework every night. Instead of enrolling her in summer dance classes, I'm enrolling her in a summer reading program to teach her study skills - because god knows she hasn't listened to anything I've tried to teach or instill in her the past couple of years.
Being a parent sure sucks sometimes. I watch my friends struggle with kids who don't know what they love yet or have decided that video games are all they want to do and I know I'm not alone in these kinds of struggles. But it doesn't make it any easier. Clearly Big Sister would rather dance than do homework but if she can't graduate high school or college, I've failed in my duties as a parent. It frightens me to think I only have six more short years in which to influence her actions and help her figure out how to be an adult and then, whether either of us are ready or not, she will be an adult.
Here's hoping this is only a year break that proves to her how important it is to keep up on her homework so she can return to the thing that I always knew would keep her out of trouble when she gets to high school. I can't fathom if that plan backfires on me. I wish this kid had come with an owner's manual because I could sure use one!