Seven-year-olds don’t need no stinking rules
The alarm went off this morning like the starter’s pistol. As I dragged the comb through my hair I called out to my kids to get up and ready for school. Emily, my seven-year-old, graciously declined the invitation. As time slipped by, I became more and more frustrated. Bus time was approaching and we were nowhere near ready to go. My reminders became more and more urgent. Finally I began to raise my voice threatening to take away dessert if she did not immediately get ready .
Emily looked at me and asked, “You know, punishing me doesn’t help. Why do I have to have rules anyway?” I told her that everyone has rules to follow that keep them safe and help them have a better life. She informed me that she didn’t want to follow my rules. ” Everyone needs to respect one another and follow the rules of the house to reap the benefits of being part of the family,” I explained. Emily inquired what would happen if she didn’t follow the rules. “Then I don’t make your dinner, do your laundry, help with homework, etc,” I told her. Emily said, “Well I don’t need any help, so no rules for me!”
With great joy Emily then screamed at me, “Dammit dammit dammit! Shut up dumb Mommy!” She then paused as if bracing for a coming hurricane. I shrugged and walk away. Again she yelled “DAMMIT!!!” Nothing…. “Dammit?” she said and waited. I continued getting ready for work and headed downstairs.
Emily didn’t seem to know what to make of the situation. She kept asking me questions but my responses were minimal. “What will happen when I run out of food?” Em asked. I told her that she would have to go buy more. She was very concerned with that response, wondering how she would get to the store without a driver’s license. I could see the wheels turning as she tried to work out the solution. The little wrinkles in her forehead, the furrowing of her brow, the small droplets of sweat building up… it was almost painful to watch.
Within ten minutes Emmy stood before me with her head down. In a small voice she asked, “Mommy, can I have rules?” Clearly this “no rule” thing didn’t turn out like she planned. So… was living without rules the right decision for Emily? No. But she would tell you…
It seemed like a good idea at the time.