During the time in my life and I affectionately remember as “the merry-go-round of careers” I briefly worked as a Seventh Grade Special Ed Teacher, and I loved it! I would talk to friends and family about what I was doing and the response was always the same, “its great that you are teaching and influencing kids, but why middle school?”
Middles Schoolers are that interesting age between child and teenager. They are crazed with hormones, running wild with either too much freedom or too much structure, and chomping at the bit to make their own way in the world. That’s what I loved about them. I would go to the school every day telling myself one thing, “today will be a battle, and I will win it because I’m more stubborn than they are.” It was the truth. I had to be more stubborn and I had to win every single battle engagement. Once you lose one time in a battle of wills to one of those boy/men that think they are smart but don’t even know how to drive a car, its like sharks smelling blood in the water, they will swarm and eat you alive! Gaining control of a classroom takes time and the ability to build respect, loosing control of a classroom takes 2 minutes of weakness or inattention.
It occurs to me that each day is like that with my kids too. Its a battle for control and I must maintain it or things will go south very quickly. However, unlike with middle schoolers, the loss of control of my younger kids doesn’t show an immediate impact (which is the scary part). If I say no to my seven year old, and then she starts bugging the crap out of me to give in, and then I cave, at first it seems that my loss of control of that moment wasn’t that big of a deal. But, this sets the stage for me to give away control again, and again, and again, and eventually she will be a teenager and I will be left wondering why she will never do as I ask.
Its a slippery slope with our kids and because I’ve seen the long term effects of parents that constantly cave, I have chosen the path of loving stubbornness. I will not cave, I will not divert course, I will not give in, and I will be more stubborn than the combined forces of my two, three, six and seven year old (and that’s saying something). I will do this even though it will wear me down to the point of exhaustion, and I will do it all because of my love for them.
My kids are worth battling, in order to keep them in line, in order to shape and mold them into the wonderful people that they are destined to become. I will battle my kids for their good, because I love them.
Note: there is a place for grace and kindness of course. But, in general for me, no is no and its worth the battle to keep it that way.