Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Excuses

When you were growing up, were there forbidden words?

In our house, the usual foul language started showing up at about age ten. With some words, all it took was asking my child the definition. Usually, he didn't know. After learning it, and having to discuss the definition with his mother, I didn't hear the offending word again.

In the teen years the words might slip out now and then, but were always followed by an apology. As the good parent lurking on MySpace and Facebook, I did step in when my son referred to girls in a pimpy manner and made him change his posting. After all, he had a mom and sisters included in the insult.

There is only one phrase, though, that makes my blood boil, and I have absolutely banned its use. It is the two word phrase "but, Mama..."

Nothing good comes after the words "but, Mama."

"But, Mama" announces the transition to an argument or an excuse or a complaint or an attempt at justification. All are fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears.

I eventually developed a coping strategy that did not include physical violence or screaming. Whenever the disagreements become unbearable, I give myself some peace and quiet.

My daughters, whining champions both, would spend an occasional childhood afternoon locked out of the house until they decided to be pleasant. During a particularly turbulent period, one daughter would head straight to her favorite sitting spot on top of the brick mailbox. She laughs about it now, and probably would admit the forced solitude gave her necessary practice at improving her attitude.

Today, as usual, I was graciously providing a ride home from school to my son. I was reminding him about what he needed to do in order to get to the car in a timely manner. The "but, Mama's" started and continued, even after several warnings and requests to stop the excuses.

I made my final request and then it was "get out of the car, please." He knew then he was done. My only mistake was not bringing the dog with me as I usually do. The dog would have enjoyed the long walk home.

My son did, too. It was his choice, after all.

It is hard at first, no matter what your age, to take responsibility when you are wrong or should accommodate someone who is your superior. Actually, one of the most disconcerting things you can do is agree with your critic. More often than not it increases respect and improves the relationship.

So give yourself some peace and quiet - admit your shortcomings and move on. No excuses needed.


Jennifer said...

I love it!!! I'm going to try the locking out of the house thing.... that may work with Kendall.... hahahahha... Colton knows when to stop with me... Kendall... a whole nother story!

Wiley said...

It was, 'But you don't..." then "Get Out Of The Car!!" no pleases and tank yous, or mama's and papa's.
It was a 'get my point across without fear of backtalk'. not please obey my wishes even though you have no choice.

I <3 U mamadre.