Yesterday, my beautiful daughter Ksanti was glaring at me. She was angry and sad and upset because I insisted that she clean her room and her bathroom. The weather is changing in Michigan and she can finally go outside and ride her bike and play with friends. So my pronouncement... that yes, you can go out after your chores are complete, was met with a bout preteen moodiness that culminated in a debate.
Here's how my daughter is about doing her chores. She'll do just enough to get around 80% of the way through the task and then she's decided she has done enough. I'm often an easy going mom (or I try to be) but this particular pattern has been grating on my nerves and so I picked yesterday to put my foot squarely on the ground. In response to my foot planting, we had an incredible exchange about happiness and the point of life in general.
After about the third or fourth time that I went to check her room and bathroom, I said for the third or fourth time, "No, you're not finished."
Then, the combat ensued. It started with the glaring. It made me curious. Here's a paraphrase of our exchange.
me: Why are you so angry?
ksanti: Never mind. You're not going to listen to me anyway.
me: I'm asking... why are you so mad? Because I'm asking you to clean?
ksanti: I don't see anything left to clean.
me: You're not looking. Go pay attention. See what's on the floor and pick it up.
ksanti: I already looked.
me: Look again.
ksanti: What's the point?
me: The point?
ksanti: I was trying to make you happy, but I can't, so what's the point.
me: I'm not asking you to clean your room because it will make me happy. Why are you so worried about my happiness anyway.
ksanti: Because you are dissapointed.
me: Yes, I'm disappointed by the way you tend to want to ignore me when I ask you to complete your chores, but don't worry about how I feel. I feel all kinds of things... dissapointment, anger, sadness, happiness... I'm actually happy right now doing my chores so you don't have to try to make me happy.
me: So, why are you so unhappy?
ksanti: I just don't get it. What's the point of trying to be happy or going to school or doing homework or cleaning my room or anything? Even if I do get to go outside and play with my friends, I'm just going to come home and be bored.
me: You don't see any value in learning? You want to be an ignorant person who can be easily swayed and cheated?
ksanti: No [I don't want that].
me: Well, I guess if there's no point, there is no need for you to go outside and play with your friends.
ksanti: Good point. I'll be in my room. No, wait... then you'll just come in and tell me to clean it.
me. Yes, you're right.
Dear Buddha, Give me the strength to be a good mom while wading through the hormones and mood swings of a preeteen. - chalip.