Diagram of the currents feeding the Pacific Trash Vortex.
(If you don't want to know how depressing the PTV is, don't click on the image.)
Discovering the PTV this morning cheered me up because it is far more depressing than what I'm struggling with at the moment, though eerily relevant.
My parental irresponsibility is coming back to bite me in the ass.
My daughter's room is an appalling mess, and has been so for pretty much her entire life. So is her understanding of respect and responsibility. We are once again tackling the messy room issue, and simultaneously tackling at least one larger issue, that of respectful compliance when we ask her to do something.
It is excruciatingly painful for all of us. We have created a monster, and to subdue it we have to become monsters. The only effective tactic at the moment is taking away stuff she loves, really, really loves, which is genuinely excruciating for her even though her reactions secretly amuse us sometimes. Which makes me feel like even more of a monster.
Worse than feeling like a monster is the misery of knowing that all of it boils down to my failures as a parent. The Pacific Gyre driving all of the crap into one big, painful, toxic mess -- both material and emotional -- is my total lack of consistency.
These are some of the things I've failed to do consistently:
- Define expectations.
- Articulate expectations.
- Define the relative priority of said expectations
- Demonstrate the contexts that determine the priority
- Notice that things aren't being done
- Care that things are or aren't being done
- Enforce expected behavior
- Continue enforcing over time
- Use consistent tactics and intensity of enforcement, whether reward or punishment
- Model the desired behavior myself
- Model the desired behavior myself [see Surface Detail, April 7 2009. Q.E.D.]
- Model the desired behavior myself....
Do not, I repeat do not, tell me that all parents have to grapple with this.
OF COURSE THEY DO.
Disrespectful, sneering expression.
I would very much like to play the Crazy card. Because after all, its a really good card, it trumps everything but cancer and death, and it explains all of these failures.
Except that it doesn't excuse them. Parenting is my job, and good parenting is 1 part love to 450 parts consistency. And I haven't done it. I have to do it whether I'm good at it or not, whether I want to or not, whether its rewarding or not, when it hurts me, when it hurts her, whether I'm sure its right or not, whether other people criticize me or not.
As I have to tell my daughter with frustrating regularity: it sucks, and it's hard, but you still have to do it.
ANSWER ME WHEN I AM SPEAKING TO YOU. DID YOU HEAR ME? REPEAT TO ME WHAT I JUST TOLD YOU. NOW DO IT.
Every single time.
Now I need to call Greenpeace and discuss her room. I'm hoping they have some tips.