What an idiot I am! What kind of mother threatens not to buy her son a new pair of glasses if he loses/breaks the ones he’s wearing? I mean how do I follow through on this?
“Well, Levi, I’m sorry. But I guess you’re just not gonna be able to see the board anymore in class. Oh well.” What was I thinking?
Levi, my 8-year-old, wears glasses. This is not a big deal since both his dad and I wear contacts. When he picked out a cute (but modest) pair of specs in the doc’s office a few months ago, I explained that these glasses were his responsibility. If he lost them, broke them, or allowed them to remain in his pocket during a laundry wash cycle, I wasn’t replacing them. I felt this was a fair way to teach him to be responsible for his own stuff.
Well, last week he broke them. He broke them because he obsessively fiddles with them. I’ve only told him 7000 times to stop and be careful with them, but as you might guess, he doesn’t heed my warnings.
When they broke in the middle of math class, he apparently started to plunge into a full- scale panic attack. His teacher couldn’t calm him down and I, ultimately, got a call from school.
“I asked him what he thinks will happen when he tells you about them,” voiced his teacher innocently enough. “But all he’ll say is that he can’t tell you. You’ll be soooooo angry.” Of course the self-obsessed neurotic inside of me is now certain his teacher thinks I’m some type of sick, twisted “Mommy Dearest.” I try to sound overly calm when I say, “I can’t imagine why he’s so undone about this. It’s only a pair of glasses.” Again the question of “what was I thinking” begins to clang around in my head.
I was thinking that he’s old enough to be responsible for a pair of eyeglasses. My friend “D,” not a mom, says to me over lunch as I’m tearing myself apart, “He is only 8. Maybe you’re asking him to do something he’s just not capable of?”
“It doesn’t seem like such a tough task,” I counter. Bet then I compulsively replay her words for the rest of the afternoon. Great. First, I demand something that is either physically, mentally or psychologically too advanced from my poor, innocent child. Then I threaten him with something I can’t possibly follow through with. Boy, I’m sure the Parenting Award folks are gonna be knocking on my door any minute now.
I call the “talking doctor” and spill my self-loathing guts. (Then I wonder if the “talking doctor” is really for Levi or more for me?) “Debra,” he calmly pronounces, “He is perfectly capable of being responsible for his glasses.”
“Really?” I venture with a bit of relief in my voice.
“Yes, really,” he continues, “And, you do have to buy him a new pair of glasses. But he’ll need to pay for part or all of them through some kind of work relief program.”
“You mean like he does chores in exchange for money that’s ear-marked for new glasses?” I query.
“Exactly,” he concludes, eager to get off the phone.
“That makes sense,” I agree, “So, I am actually following through on not buying him a new pair of glasses. So maybe I’m not a total failure as a parent – at least not today?”
“Not today,” he replies with a hint of sarcasm. “Not today.”
I hang up and think; maybe I ought to rethink the whole “talking doctor” thing.