Last year, my youngest son forgot to bring his things to school at least 16 times. The items ranged anywhere from his lunch, his track uniform, his textbooks, his running shoes, his wallet, his phone, a paper he’d written, his binder for science... to even more nefarious ones, like his toothbrush. WTF?
Each time, I stopped what I was doing, found his things and came to his rescue. I don’t even want talk about my oldest son’s transgressions (he’s even more forgetful than my youngest). Let's just say I'm glad I have a Prius for that good gas mileage.
This year, I’m done. It dawned on me that my sons were trained to forget their stuff at home because I had rewarded their brain farts by rushing to school with whatever it was they needed. Kind of like the way a baby learns to throw their pacifier on the ground so mommy will pick it up.
“Ha ha ha! Funny mommy! Get my binky! Again, again!”
I just can’t anymore. My kids assume that because I’m home, I’m available. Nope, nope, nope.
I work full-time from home running my own business, and while my bright, shiny offspring may not understand that I’m actually busy, I am. Every stray “can you bring me my stuff” text that dings me out of concentration is a dollar lost to the hustle. Mama’s not made of money, kids.
Not only that, my kids need to get a grip and be accountable. I did! Their dad did! The rest of the world has. One time is a mistake, but 300 times over the course of their lives? That’s just willful not giving a f***. They need to tap all that amazing breast-milk-fed brain power and make a list or something because they’re too old for this dude-in-distress bit.
So, anytime I get a frantic text or call from either of my sons, asking me to bring them whatever it is that they've forgotten, I’m going to do the following:
1. Ignore it.
Son: Mom, I forgot my note cards for Trig!!! Can you bring them?
2. Reply with: “Wow. That sucks.”
Because it does. For them.
3. Ask what they’re going to do about it.
Here’s a new idea: make their mistake a teachable moment and inspire them to consider how being ill-prepared impacts their ability to succeed. The struggle!
4. Say no, because: priorities.
I will admit that saying “no” when I technically could go drop their stuff off makes me feel extreme mom guilt. However, I have a job to do and I’m not asking them do my work, so they shouldn't ask me to do theirs.
5. Send their father. Haha, just kidding, he’d never go.
Seriously, he’s a Marine and has to save the world. He wouldn't put up with those kind of shenanigans.
6. Did I say ignore them already?
Maybe I missed the text? Maybe it never went through? There’s power in plausible deniability.
7. Send them this meme.
Photograph by Bryanne Salazar
8. Run around frantically trying to find what they’re missing so I can help them.
9. Explain to them that I really hope this teaches them to be more organized and then, kindly ask what they want for dinner, because I’m not a total monster.
Nothing softens the harsh sting of "no" like the sweet, sweet promise of my home cooking (aka take out from the local Thai restaurant).