I know it’s like February already – but I really need to tell you about what happened a few months ago with Iraina. It was one of those “days” or should I say “moments” that really taught us both a sweet lesson.
Ok, before I go into it though – I think I should explain something. With the whole change in the ways that we discipline our kids in South Africa, I have been reading up a storm. Basically, about how I can do it without physically touching my kids. So one of the ways I have learned how to do this, is to help our kids make their own choices and then leave them to deal with the consequences of their decisions. It sounds easier than it actually is – when executing as a parent. If I’m really honest with myself – I would love to always swoop in and save the day if my kids need me. (for example, if my kid left her lunch box at home and she went to school – everything within me would be like, “hey sweetie I can just swing home and get it for you and bring it back to the school”. Right?) well, this was a similar situation and it was awesome how it all panned out.
Iraina is our lovely, beautiful, free spirited, whimsical child. She dresses the way she wants – it can match one day and totally be all over the place the next. It’s sooooo her personality. One thing that she has been doing since she was a little baby, is walk around without shoes – EVERYWHERE!
So, she’s eight now and I just came to the place – as her mother – that I’m TIRED of going into the mall, with her walking around like we don’t buy her shoes. Plus it’s completely unhygienic and dangerous for her little body.
Anyway, so I’m done with this and chatted to her about it and made the call that she needs to stop it. This was a Monday – I had no form of consequence because I didn’t know how to measure it up and help her learn. So I did the firm mom voice and nagged her on the Tuesday, then the Thursday and she still kept “forgetting” her shoes! Head in my hands, I just whisper, God help me out here. (no jokes! I did do this)
Jude turned three on the Saturday, and we had his birthday party. As a family we planned to have our last time together, at Ratanga Junction because it’s closing forever in May. (Family being, with my Dad –who works out of the country – my Mom, my sister and her family and our little tribe)
So, we bundle up and get to Ratanga Junction as a group. (This is 5 kids and 6 adults) Note, tickets have been paid for ahead of time and we are going into the gate. At the ticket office, the lady now starts to count us all up and the little ones had to measure up against a mark to see if they could ride all of the rides or be on a kiddy pass. As they start to measure up, Iraina steps up and the lady says, “Shoes on!”
I immediately look down to see that my kid doesn’t have any shoes on! I mean come on!!! Now, it was in this moment that I felt like – as a mom I should take the responsibility because I should have checked that everyone had shoes on and had their hats and stuff. (which I did, I checked that everyone had hats – but completely forgot the shoes thing for my bigger kids) It was in this moment that I suddenly realized, this is it! this is the moment – “I” had a decision to make as a parent, about how I should work this one. It was in that moment that I made the call to pull the “consequence” card.
So as much as my parents, my husband, my sister and my brother in law all looked at me and immediately started to click into “let’s make a plan” mode. I decided I was going to do the hard thing and let her learn her lesson.
I turned to her (slightly frustrated on my part because I had to be the bad cop here) and I said, “Well, Iraina – how many times this week have I reminded you about your shoes?” She replied, “two times”. “So Iraina, I was gracious with you those two times – but today you are going to have to live with the consequence of your actions, ok?” She tried to negotiate for us to go to the car and get her sisters’ shoes – which would be way too big for her. I firmly said no to that one.
The ticket lady then pipes up and says that there were flip flops for sale inside, which is where my Dad was wanting to buy her a pair. I still (with a lump in my throat) stuck to my guns of it being no. I communicated that where better for her to learn that she needs to bring her shoes along than in this moment right now.
No joke, there was an immediate “vibe” set on the group, because everyone was feeling really bad for her and were expecting her to throw a bit of a sad sulk for the day.
I continued to say to Iraina that she had a choice in how she was going to have her day. She could choose how to respond to everything and we would then deal with the day as it went along. But, it was her choice because of her decision to forget her shoes.
So after shuffling a few things around, in terms of the ticket prices because she wasn’t paying for full rides anymore – we all moved in and started our day.
The main part of the group, excluding my mother, Iraina and Jude all went into the first ride. My dad walked with me and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Hard one, hey Shavs? But it’s the right thing to do.” I agreed and continued to re-iterate that it’s the only way she’ll learn.
So after standing in the queue for 25 minutes, screaming really loud on the ride and walking out – we returned to my mom and Iraina who waited for us outside and sat together.
It was in this moment, that as a mother, I was extremely proud of my child’s response to her situation.
Her cousins and sister were raving about the ride (not in a “rub your face in it” kind of way- just excited). They were all expecting her to have a sulky and moody response, but she was excited with them! I mean, she’s 8! She should be sulking right?
I turned to my mom and asked her how she was doing. My mom told me that the first few minutes were a bit “sad”. She sat and didn’t want to talk but then after that she started chatting again and her attitude lifted.
Throughout the rest of the day, she continued to respond positively and had obviously made the decision that she was going to make the most of her situation and have fun. Her cousins and sister were all expecting her to have no highlights for the day because she couldn’t ride anything – but she turned around to all of us at the dinner table and had a long list of things that she had really enjoyed for the time we had at Ratanga.
When I tucked her into bed that night, I asked her if she had learned anything from leaving her shoes at home. She said she had and that she would make sure she would try to have her shoes with her all of the time from now on. I then told her just how proud I was of her for choosing to not be unhappy about her decision. She showed maturity and great character. That is why I chose to write it down and brag about her. This was all of her and nothing I did as a parent. All I did was the hard thing and put her in a hard place which she flipped and did it right. High fives to our Whimsical Princess!!