It’s Christmas Eve* and until this week I wasn’t fully in the Christmas spirit (at least, not the gift buying portion of the spirit. It feels wrong to equate material purchases to the spirit of Christmas anyway, but I’m not going to bombard you with thoughts of consumerism vs Jesus. Until last weekend, I hadn’t been to church in a month of Sundays.) I feel snippets of desire to decorate but for the most part I am experiencing what can only be described as the Christmas conundrum. The oldest girl is failing two classes and by failing I mean D and F, not a less than respectable C, but wavering between D and F and WHO SAID SPANKING IS SO WRONG?
She hasn’t been beaten, don’t worry. But, she has been warned via keep it up and you won’t get shit. I think she thinks I’m bluffing. I am bluffing but how dare she even attempt to consider that I am bluffing! I intend on buying for the girl, but that list she made? Whoo boy, don’t even think about it. Those who fail 7th grade math and have their teachers writing comments such as “does not apply herself” and “could do better but she is too social” don’t deserve the (albeit few) things that are on that list.
This brings me to another important, but other post-worthy topic: When there is nothing to take away because you’ve been teaching your children they can’t have everything they want (because you can’t afford it anyway), HOW DO YOU DISCIPLINE? I can’t say “Stop reading this instant! You are punished and not allowed to read!” She doesn’t play with the DS, pointless to take it. We recently bought her a phone because she’s on the bus more but do I take that and have her wander the streets unable to respond to my frivolous text requests for dinner suggestions?
The one thing she wanted, the one big ticket item, was a pair of tennis shoes that are priced high as a giraffe’s ass. We said no. It’s winter. It’ll be snowy and the streets filled with dirty slush soon and they’re white on the bottom, sure to get dirty fast. And just no price-wise. And just no, stop asking. And no, it doesn’t matter that you found them for $10 less. And no, it doesn’t matter that you found them on eBay for $20 less. And COME ON, STOP ASKING, NO ONE’S BUYING YOU TENNIS SHOES THAT PRICE AND DO YOU STILL HAVE A “D” IN MATH?
And then my evil sister came up with the ultimate strategy: buy the shoes. Then, take the shoes back the minute she rolls her eyes about washing dishes or sweeping the floor. Take the shoes the minute she refuses to play with her brother or speaks sharply to her sister. Take the shoes back the instant she refuses to rub your feet. Aaaaah, leverage. I get it. My sister offered to buy them.
Every time she’s asked I’ve said no, the shoes just aren’t happening, sorry. It’s impractical, especially at this time of year, they’ll get muddy, you’re only 12 and i can’t justify spending that much when your feet are still growing and please stop asking BECAUSE I SAID NO ALREADY. Each time she walked away dejected, sad, broken, “But” still on her lips. I waved her away every time. And then I sat down to buy the shoes that were going to magically give me a compliant child and student. And they were sold out. Everywhere.
I’ve never browsed so many online sneaker stores in my life. Sold out. All gone. Leverage lost (because there was no way I was braving ANY mall.) Have to resort to regular old talking and punishment if her grades don’t improve. This sucks.
And then I remembered. Good old eBay. They were there offered by a seller with a near 100% customer satisfaction rating. I ordered them immediately (even though by then the price for faster shipping was much higher.) When the box came my sister-in-law was out of town. Sneaker something or other was the sender and my daughter had already investigated the box. “What’s in there?” she asked. Oh. Those are shoes your aunt ordered for your cousin because she knew she’d be out of town this week. Womp womp womp. She walked away sadly. I giggled inanely because in my head look! Look! These are the shoes! The shoes you begged for and we said no but look! Look! Here they are in your house and I’m going to take them back the first chance I get.
On Christmas morning she was excited and happy with the things we’d gotten her. And then her sister handed her a box from waaaaaaaaay back behind the tree. She unwrapped the box. Then she had to use scissors to remove the tape. Inside that box was…another wrapped box. She unwrapped that box and then had to use the scissors to remove the tap. Inside THAT box was lots of tissue paper taped around and object that was proving difficult to get to. She unwound layer after layer of pink paper and then…I think she stopped breathing. Speechless. Struck dumb. Unable to move.
And then, it dawned on her. There was only one shoe. I smiled. “See me next month** when progress reports are delivered.”
Parenting at its finest.*** See? I don’t need to shame her with signs around her neck that read “I am failing math.” I just need to get her attention. Guess what? Attention. I haz it.
*This was a scheduled post due to go up on Christmas Eve but didn’t because WordPress hates me and I think it’s because I’m black.
**I eventually gave her the other shoe that same day. I figure I can still take them if her grades don’t improve but it was fun while it lasted. Also, she probably would have worn that one shoe and considered herself a fashion force.
***She better be glad I didn’t go with her aunt’s suggestion to give her just a picture of the shoes.